CPJ condemns shuttering of TV news station

New York, August 10, 2005—The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the Taiwanese government’s recent actions against the cable television news station ETTV-S. The government halted the station’s broadcasts and revoked its license last week, citing “irresponsible” reporting.

The Government Information Office, the official agency tasked with monitoring the media, accused the station of abusing broadcast guidelines with sensational coverage of sex scandals and crime, and of airing false news. ETTV-S continued to broadcast its programming this week through sister channels.

The government also stopped the broadcasts of six other entertainment-based cable stations. At the same time, the GIO placed all other cable news stations under a three-month probationary period.

Local opposition politicians and journalists condemned the move, saying the government was seeking to control the press.

The GIO defended its actions Monday by stating that some news media workers “have employed illegal practices or practices counter to acceptable industry standards in order to compete with other programs.” The statement did not specify the reports that had resulted in the license revocation.

Taiwanese Premier Frank Hseih said on August 2 that the government had exercised restraint by withdrawing the licenses of only seven stations. Taiwan’s news media have come under public criticism for sensational coverage in their attempts to compete for audiences.

“We are deeply concerned by the government’s blatant censorship of ETTV-S and its chilling effect on other news stations,” said CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper. “We call on Taiwan authorities to reinstate its license immediately.”