CtiTV News License Could Be Revoked, Taiwan to Become Where One Voice Reigns Supreme?

News Compiled and Reported by Taiwan Weekly


The hearsay that Chung Tien Television (CtiTV) News will be shut down by the government withdrawing the channel’s license has made a lot of noise in Taiwan this week. On January 13, Taipei City Councilman Lo Chih-chiang predicted that a "deep throat" told him, that CtiTV News will be closed. Lo added that next up might be TVBS, and all television news networks opposed to the ruling elites could suffer.


The National Communications Commission (NCC) has scheduled a hearing for October 26, 2020 to review the license of CtiTV News, which expires on December 11, 2020. It will be the first hearing for a television channel license renewal in the NCC history. Commissioners Lin Li-yun and Wang Wei-ching are to preside over the hearing. Both of them have clear sentiment opposed to the political stance of Want Want China Times Media Group. CtiTV News was sold to the group.


During last year's presidential campaign, CtiTV News was a big supporter to the Kuomintang (KMT) presidential candidate Kuo-yu Han, and his approval ratings skyrocketed whenever CtiTV News broadcast Han’s campaign news, making the Green camp felt the pinch. Moreover, CtiTV's frequent positive coverage of mainland China news has also been considered by the "anti-China" camp of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) supporters as a threat to Taiwan’s national security and social peace.


On October 14, Former President Chen Shui-bian pointed out on Facebook that when the martial law was effect in Taiwan, both pro-democracy activist and free speech martyr Cheng Nan-jung and him were put behind the bar for the sake of 100 percent freedom of speech and freedom of the press. They felt hurt due to fact that the authoritarian KMT government had kept suppressing freedom of the press and mugging free speech. It is up to the audience rather than the government to decide whether the media would stay. Taiwan cannot have only one voice. Although government may change through the transfer of political value, freedom of the press is a core democratic value which should be perpetual and ever-lasting.


In a Facebook post on October 17, former President Ma Ying-jeou called upon the U.S. Department of State and Freedom House to be concerned about the CtiTV News license renewal. He said only a totalitarian country can muzzle freedom of speech by shutting down a television news channel. It should not happen in a democratic Taiwan. Ma added that President Tsai Ing-wen only recently criticized that Communist China had drastically dealt a blow to freedom of speech in Hong Kong and asked Taiwan to "prop up Hong Kong." The possible revocation of the CtiTV News license would be an extremely serious matter in a democratic country. Does the Tsai administration’s suppression of freedom of speech go beyond the era of martial law?


Several media outlets have underpinned the freedom of speech. Among them, the United Daily News published an editorial on March 16 commenting that the Tsai administration should not do anything that would humiliate the Cheng, a late pro-democracy activist who set himself on fire in 1989 to support free speech in Taiwan. On September 16, Apple Daily editorialized that NCC should not take the advantage of license renewal to suppress freedom of the press and freedom of speech with its own ideology, while seeking to rein in dissidents. As a result, the chilling-effect and one-man show will emerge.


CtiTV News was launched on September 1, 1994. From 2019 to 2020 it was fined more than NT$10 million (about US$348,000) for "improper program content" by the NCC, making it the highest amount of fine among all television channels in Taiwan.


In response to various reports which have been circulating, Executive Yuan Spokesman Ting Yi-ming said that regarding the license renewal of the relevant television station, the Executive Yuan would respect the decision by the NCC's independent exercise of legal professionalism.


In addition, the NCC explained that the license renewal is to be in accordance with the rule of law and there is no prejudice. According to Article 10 of the National Communications Commission Organization Act, the hearing for the license renewal was based on the decision by the NCC meeting which decided to select assessors from among fields of communication, finance, and law. The name list is to be published for external inspection while the whole process will be broadcast live. All are subject to public commentary.


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