TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Canelle Chen (陳文越), an anchor for CTi News (中天新聞), broke down in tears during a live broadcast on Wednesday (Nov. 18), the same day Taiwan's media regulators unanimously rejected the pro-China news channel's license renewal application.
The National Communications Commission (NCC) on Wednesday (Nov. 18) unanimously denied Chung T'ien Television's (中天電視) CTi News a renewed broadcast license. The news station is part of Want Want China Times Group, which has repeatedly come into conflict with the authorities due to its pro-China stance, having been fined for 21 violations over the past six years that range from spreading disinformation to biased reporting.
Halfway through a televised broadcast Wednesday, Chen was visibly distraught and had to pause several times. On Thursday (Nov. 19), she took to Facebook to apologize to her followers by stating that she had paused during the broadcast out of fear she would begin sobbing uncontrollably.
She wrote that all CTi News anchors that day wore white clothing with black ribbons on their lapels to signify that "freedom of speech in Taiwan is dead." Chen then sarcastically wrote, "It's hard to believe at this moment. I wonder if you realize it? Taiwan is going through a historical moment of great democratic changes."
Lashing out in frustration, Chen complained:
"The punishment, the interference, all the charges, there is too much injustice. From double standards and targeted punishments, including 21 cases —only five of which were confirmed — to the unprecedented hearing and a rating standard changed halfway through the review, all the processes comprised too much smearing and distorted rumors. The so-called shutdown is a well-designed game, a crude and rotten scene."
Chen admitted that she had shed more tears as she wrote these words. She also emphasized that her anger was not because she was worried about losing her job, but because she felt puzzled and helpless: "How did Taiwan get to this point? It's so ridiculous, how can it be so ridiculous! What the presidents of democracies dare not do is now being staged in blood."
Accusing the government of violating her station's right to freedom of speech, she wrote, "Don’t tell me how I should speak now. It’s not about freedom of speech. I tell you that what has been silenced today is a news media outlet that stands opposite the government. [Cti] plays a real supervisory role and is a thorn in the side of the government." She then claimed that the station's daily viewers number in the "hundreds of thousands."
Chen closed by warning that the government's action has had a chilling effect on media outlets:
"Today, the government has violently assaulted Chung T'ien. The effects on other media can be imagined. It is far more serious than [censoring] my posting here or a live-streaming broadcast by Holger Chen."
She then urged her audience to take to the streets on Nov. 22 to protest.