Scholars urge TV news channels to produce unbiased reports

By Joseph Yeh ,The China Post

A group of scholars yesterday urged local television news channels to stop producing biased reports especially in the face of the upcoming municipal elections after a survey showed that many TV stations are making reports based on its own political preference instead of journalist profession. “We would like to ask all the television news channels to respect ethics in journalism and make impartial reports,” said Weber Lai, chair in the National Taiwan University of Arts’ Department of Radio and Television, who also serves as director-general of the Taipei-based Chinese Communication Society (CCS). He made the comment yesterday after he revealed a survey conducted by the CCS that monitored 10 local television news channels for four days to determine if these channels are producing biased reports in favor of its supported political party. The survey showed that the Formosa TV (FTV) had performed worst by failing to follow the fair report principle and heavily leaning toward the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). Taking for instance the FTV evening news reports for the past four days from Nov. 1 to 4, the survey showed that the network has produced 11 reports to praise certain candidates, all of them DPP members, in the upcoming municipal elections. At the same time, the FTV news had made a total of 31 reports to criticize ruling Kuomintang candidates and politicians.

“I would like to see this as a coincidence, or the FTV could just very well change its name into the DPP TV,” said Chuang Po-chung, a professor of journalism at Chinese Culture University, who took part in conducting the survey. Chuang added that the survey also showed that many political TV talk shows are leaning toward certain parties as well. For instance, during the same period of time, a total of five talk shows were criticizing Taipei City Mayor Hau Lung-bin, the KMT candidate for the upcoming Taipei City mayoral election, while another three shows were praising his accomplishments in his tenure as the capital city’s mayor, Chuang said. “We can understand that each channel would have its own preferred political party, however, they should keep professional journalism in mind and try to make impartial news reports,” Lai said. Lai noted that his society will continue to monitor local news channels for the upcoming three weeks before the election day on Nov. 27 and make regular report to the public about their findings to see if these channels have made improvements.

The survey is part of an unbiased news reporting campaign launched by the CCS.