"I've never said that we were going to take Korean soap operas off prime time TV. I've never said that we were going to order TV stations to play local TV dramas in prime time. When did I say that?" Yao asked during a news briefing at the Executive Yuan yesterday morning.
Yao made the remarks in response to comments by four opposition Kuomintang lawmakers, who blamed him for the reported proposal to ban on foreign TV dramas in prime time. The Apple Daily reported the proposal on Tuesday and indicated that it was part of the GIO's latest plan to boost local drama production.
The idea was presented in a GIO internal conference on Monday, when the office and other experts and scholars got together to discuss how to boost the local media industry and the production of local TV dramas, the GIO explained on Tuesday.
The minister had also said on Tuesday that a certain media worker had made the suggestion to the GIO, citing concern for the future of Taiwan's ailing drama production industry.
Yao emphasized that the idea was only one of the suggestions the GIO received as part of an effort to boost the local drama industry, and said that the office had not yet decided whether to accept the idea.
On Tuesday, however, KMT Legislator Kuo Su-chun (郭素春) criticized Yao as insane to come up with such an idea. "Yao should besiege the Chiang Kai-shek International Airport to ban all foreigners from entering this country" instead of only prohibiting the airing of foreign TV dramas in the local media, Kuo mocked.
Kuo further attacked Yao yesterday, saying that as the mouthpiece of the government, the GIO minister "ought to be aware of mainstream opinion," referring to the high popularity and viewer ratings of foreign TV dramas - including Korean, Japanese and Chinese soap operas, in Taiwan.
KMT Legislator Yang Chiung-ying (楊瓊瓔) added her voice to the criticism of Yao, saying that the Democratic Progressive Party government was never serious about promoting the domestic drama industry through policy making or legislation.
Yang claimed that the DPP government's lack of interest and sincerity in boosting the drama industry was demonstrated when Premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) stopped the broadcast of a local drama inside the Executive Yuan before long before the plan was announced.
Another KMT Legislator Hsu Shao-ping (徐少萍) bluntly charged that Yao's proposal to ban foreign TV dramas was "fascist."
"Yao is trying to control and suppress people's thoughts by (controlling) the media," she alleged.
Yao said the ban proposed by the media worker was understandable as it was "based on policy models in other Asian countries such as Japan and South Korea." These countries have established a series of policies to protect local drama production as part of the effort to sustain the development of their individual cultures, Yao said.
"Critics should read extensively before making criticisms," the minister countered.