TV media asked to improve disaster coverage

The China Post news staff

Chairwoman Su Heng of the National Communications Commission (NCC), the government agency regulating telecom and television services, said yesterday that the NCC will move to have local TV stations improve their practice of repeatedly broadcasting disastrous news events.

Su said at a legislative session that the NCC has received over 100 phone calls and online messages nationwide criticizing local news media for round-the-clock news coverage of the March 11 massive earthquake and the ensuing devastating tsunami and nuclear power plant crisis in Japan. Some callers complained that the content of the news coverage is too sensationalist and frightening, and some said repeated coverage of the crisis was harming their mental well-being, according to Su.

Up to 60 percent of the callers opined that local news media shouldn’t run repetitive Japanese disaster news stories and ignore other news coveraging local people and events.

At a legislative session, Lawmaker Yeh Yi-jin of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) also accused local TV news media outlets of sharply inflating the number of deaths caused by the devastating quake and tsunami in Japan to hundreds of thousands on the first day of the catastrophic disaster, although the real death toll released by the Japanese government stood at a little over 8,000.

Accordingly, Yeh noted that the NCC should ask local news media organizations to improve the exaggerated news reports.

In response, Su said that her commission will organize a meeting with top executives from local TV news media organizations, scholars and experts this week to review news coverage of the disaster.

“I’ll ask top TV executives not to make TV viewing ratings their top concern, and not to conduct repetitive broadcasting of disastrous news,” she said.

The NCC head also noted that the self-disciplinary committee of the Satellite TV Broadcasting Association of the R.O.C. has asked its member TV stations to review and improve their disaster news coverage and intensify broadcasting of other news reports concerning local events. Criticism from Scholars Meanwhile, some scholars have also fielded criticisms of the way Taiwan’s news media has handled the Japan earthquake. “Not every individual in the society can sustain watching continuous reports of the disaster,” said Shiu Mei-ling, a professor at the Department of Journalism under the National Chengchi University.