TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Messages broadcasted by the Chinese Television System (CTS) news channel about war erupting between Taiwan and China alarmed the public on Wednesday morning (April 20) and were later confirmed to be published “by mistake.”
A user on a popular online forum PTT shared screenshots of a CTS news broadcast at 7:11 a.m., asking “Have we begun war with China?” In the screenshots, the news crawl at the bottom displayed messages such as “New Taipei City hit by Chinese missile, Port of Taipei warship explodes, facilities, vessels damaged,” “war on the brink of erupting,” “China makes frequent moves to prepare for war, President issues emergency decree,” and “Special agent suspected of setting fire to Banqiao Station and planting explosives.”
Netizens made note of other erroneous messages, including “magnitude 7 earthquake in Taishan District” and “incident at the Second Nuclear Power Plant.” Some messages were reportedly broadcasted for almost 10 minutes.
Despite initial confusion, the commentators quickly realized that the messages were shown either due to a “ridiculous mistake,” a “malicious prank,” or written by “a staff member high on drugs.” Others angrily called CTS “the source of social disorder” and a “spreader of rumors” that should be fined by the National Communications Commission.
CTS issued a correction notice and public apology on its bulletin board and social media page. “During the 7 a.m. morning news broadcast on April 20, due to a mistake on the part of relevant staff members, text from disaster drill messages provided by the New Taipei City Fire Department were mistakenly shown as news crawl content. CTS was commissioned by the New Taipei City Fire Department to record the disaster-prevention video,” the apology read.
“CTS solemnly apologizes for the serious oversight that has caused public panic and unnecessary issues for relevant authorities. Immediately, aside from the anchor’s urgent clarification and apology, CTS also clarified and apologized on each of its channels via news crawls. Meanwhile, CTS has begun an internal oversight investigation and will conduct an urgent self-discipline committee meeting to review the major oversight and issue severe punishment against staff members involved.”
CTS added, “As a member of the Taiwan Broadcasting System, CTS does not take this type of mistake lightly and apologizes once again to the public.”
The Ministry of Culture also issued an apology, saying that it will immediately ask CTS for a report about the incident. Meanwhile, Minister of National Defense Chiu Kuo-cheng (邱國正) said if the ministry received controversial intelligence, it would respond immediately and investigate to confirm its accuracy. Chiu added that the incident is a good lesson for the media and urged the public to verify information before commenting.