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Apple Daily: 'Alien' NCC

Apple Daily: 'Alien' NCC

Taiwan editorial abstract (File 1 of a daily roundup) It seems the National Communications Commission (NCC) has been so capivated by China that it is diligently learning from China's control of mass media and may soon become an incarnation of the now-defunct Taiwan Garrison Command in restricting freedom of speech.
After arbitrarily formulating regulations that give it the power to order electronic media to suspend the broadcast of specific programs or to slap them with fines, the commission now plans to streamline TV news graphics.
Claiming that current TV news graphics are messy and untidy, the NCC says it will lay out ground rules to standardize the format of TV news graphics, including the direction and size of the Chinese characters used in the graphics. Violators may face fines ranging from NT$200,000 to NT$1 million.
It is true that many TV viewers dislike graphics, but it is not a question that the government should meddle with. The issue should be left for the market to decide.
In a democratic society, it is very important that the government exercise self-restraint and refrain from expanding its control beyond legal authorization. Arbitrary government interference tends to have political side effects and leads to suppressing civil liberties.
Since President Ma Ying-jeou assumed office, the sense and scope of government control has become more evident than during the previous A-bian administration. The NCC is a typical example.
As the Criminal Code, the Child and Juvenile Welfare Law and the Consumer Protection Act have prescribed clear provisions to penalize law-breaking media outlets, the NCC need not bother setting new rules to discipline TV stations at the risk of violating constitutional provisions.
Thirty-five media outlets ran a joint advertisement in local newspapers Tuesday reminding the NCC that it only has supervisory rights and should not try to expand its role in restricting electronic media operations.
We support such an appeal and suggest that they file a request for a constitutional interpretation by the Constitutional Court of Grand Justices to prevent the NCC from becoming an anachronistic "bizarre beast" with unauthorized power.
(By Sofia Wu)