Editor’s note: This is the second piece in a series of four looking at the opinions of young Taiwanese and foreign media professionals on the recent decision by Taiwan’s NCC to shut down a pro-China TV station, in addition to the resulting claims of an infringement on freedom of speech in Taiwan.
TTT Philadelphia: Taiwan’s National Communications Commission (NCC) dropped a bombshell in the media earlier this month when it announced it would in effect be forcefully shutting down the CTI news network – a channel known for its pro-China, KMT-friendly propaganda broadcasts.
On Dec. 11, the last day CTI were able to operate as a cable news broadcaster, the network officially ceased all on-air programs and was consigned to history.
Just prior to this noteworthy day in the history of Taiwan’s news media, CTI’s administration claimed they will be moving all news programs onto a dedicated CTI YouTube channel, at the same time “continuously fulfilling (their) duty and practicing the power of their fourth estate.”
“We will keep supervising the (DPP led) Tsai government (in Taiwan), and will never be silenced by the current authority,” said the chairman of the network Tsai Yan-ming.
Ever since NCC’s unprecedented decision to shut CTI down, the network has been accusing the government of “infringing upon news freedom” and frequently blasting president Tsai Ing-wen for her “intent to silence every dissenting voice.”
The network received huge support largely from Kuomintang (KMT) followers, with their YouTube subscription number soaring up to 2.2 million as of Dec. 20th, 2020.
Supporters of CTI also gathered outside the SET news network facility; a pro-DPP and anti-China news media platform, protesting against the injustice faced by the CTI network.
KMT chairman Chiang Chi-chen remarked that he is concerned that the opposition voice may be oppressed by the current ruling authority.
Former Kaohsiung mayor Han Kuo-yu also criticized the government, and the NCC for damaging Taiwan’s news freedom.
While many voices supporting CTI have been heard, the NCC and other anti-CTI movement leaders hold a drastically different opinion towards the shutdown.
As NCC pointed out, the decision was made based on the CTI network’s inability to maintain a high quality of broadcasting, and authenticated on-air news; an issue seen repeatedly during the 2020 Presidential Election, when KMT presidential candidate Han Kuo-yu was given an unreasonably large degree of coverage on most of CTI’s primetime programs.
Anti-CTI movement leader Huang Kuo-chang meanwhile praised the NCC for “making (the) right move” to safeguard Taiwan’s media democracy.
“Big thanks to the NCC for their professional and unbiased scrutiny as well as judgment with regards to this defining decision,” said Huang.
Huang has been a leading figure in combating the network.
Just this November, the former legislator posted two screenshots showing how chairman Tsai Yan-ming directs and guides the news that lead to propaganda being broadcast instead of unbiased news reporting.
The network was fined two times following Huang’s report.
The CTI administration then acknowledged the penalty, while arguing that the screenshots do not prove the network was being manipulated, but simply show the “discussion” within the network.
President Tsai also responded to all the controversies surrounding the CTI news network, saying the government has made no attempt to impact the NCC’s decision to shut down the network.
The Executive Yuan issued a statement as well, stating that the government pays full respect to the NCC’s decision and has maintained a neutral stance with regards to the shutdown.
With all the disputes regarding the shutdown controversy, and as a U.S. based Taiwanese TTT writer, I would like to stress the importance of “reporting undistorted truths” in Taiwan and elsewhere.
It is of course impossible for news media to be 100% bias-free, but maintaining a fair coverage of political and social issues is always necessary.
The CTI network, from this point of view, quite clearly violated the basic morals of news media: to genuinely report the facts and cover each news event comprehensively.
Political propaganda and smear campaigning could be found throughout the network.
But as CTI is now adopting a brand-new style of news reporting, whether the YouTube broadcasting will bring any changes to the bigger picture remains to be seen.