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Legislative Yuan starts special session, PTS budget remains frozen

DPP says KMT must first withdraw proposal to expand government influence over public TV

Legislative Yuan starts special session, PTS budget remains frozen

The Legislative Yuan started its extra session yesterday in an attempt at finally passing the central government budget for 2009, but the public television budget will still not be unfrozen.
A first try to pass the budget failed on Tuesday, officially the final day before the Lunar New Year vacation recess. As a result, the Legislature decided to fit in an extra session yesterday and today.
One of the topics originally expected to come up for a vote was the fate of the NT$450 million Public Television Service (PTS) budget for the second half of 2008, which has been frozen for a year amid disputes about the political orientation of the company.
Yesterday afternoon it became clear that the PTS budget would not be discussed during the special Legislative Yuan session.
Government Information Office chief Su Jun-pin said the government would keep the budget in reserve. The legislature should list the issue as a priority for the start of its session after the Lunar New Year, Su said.
The government spokesman blamed the failure to unfreeze the PTS budget on the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) because it didn't sign a cross-party agreement to put the topic on the agenda.
DPP caucus leader William Lai said the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) should first withdraw a proposal to expand government influence over public television. For the past few months, PTS and the KMT have been involved in a war of words over a proposal to give government departments a bigger say in the station's programing and budgeting. The Legislature approved the proposal on Tuesday.
Control over media
PTS management, program makers and the DPP see the government plan as an attempt to strengthen its control over the media. Earlier last year, protests erupted over appointments of presidential confidants at the Central News Agency and Radio Taiwan International.
The Legislative Yuan began voting on 109 separate motions yesterday afternoon before it got around to the central government budget as a whole.
The package contains NT$1.82 trillion in spending and NT$1.7 trillion in revenue.