TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Several politicians have spoken out on the National Communications Commission's (NCC) unanimous decision not to renew the license of Chung Tien Television's (CTiTV) cable news channel.
During a press conference on Wednesday (Nov. 18), NCC Chairman Chen Yaw-shyang (陳耀祥) announced that all seven NCC commissioners had voted to deny CTi News' (中天新聞) application to renew its six-year broadcast license, which expires on Dec. 11. The channel, owned by Want Want China Times Group, is widely perceived as being pro-China.
Want Want Chairman Tsai Eng-meng (蔡衍明) has more than once publicly advocated Taiwan’s unification with China. He has reportedly issued specific instructions on how the channel should criticize the ruling independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party and has been caught lying about meddling in editorial decisions at CTi News.
The NCC defended its decision by citing CTi News' repeated violations of rules on accurate reporting, saying that the channel had been spreading misinformation to the Taiwanese public. However, the decision prompted accusations of political interference from pan-blue politicians and their supporters.
Former Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜), who was recalled in June and also heavily supported by CTi News, accused the NCC of undermining press freedom and democracy in the country. He claimed axing CTi News will consequently discourage Taiwanese media from holding the government accountable.
Foxconn Technology Group founder Terry Gou (郭台銘), a former honorary member of the opposition Kuomintang, said he will remain neutral on the issue. However, he urged the government to apply the same standards to all media organizations, regardless of their political orientation, reported New Talk.
Meanwhile, former New Power Party (NPP) Chairman Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌) praised the NCC for making the right decision despite considerable political pressure. He emphasized that the media should not become a political tool for business owners.
Echoing Huang's statement, Taiwanese writer Nick Wang (苦苓) said press freedom does not mean reporters should broadcast the biased opinions of their employers. He said journalists can be excused for having an opinion but not for fabricating information, reported Global Views Monthly.
International press freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) released a statement expressing regret that CTi News' request for license renewal had been denied. However, it said the NCC's decision to review the channel's license was "legitimate" and that the rejection "does not go against press freedom."
RSF stressed that press freedom is not equivalent to "the absence of a regulation" but rather the public's right to receive accurate information. It called the license rejection "an extreme measure" that must be justified by the Taiwanese government, reported UDN.