Alleged paid content scheme an issue of journalistic ethics: NCC

Hualien County Magistrate Fu Kun-chi is seen in this file photo from Aug. 28, 2018. The National Communications Commission (NCC) said on Dec. 19 that the reporters allegedly involved in an auction to bid for the job to write propaganda for a county government. (NOWnews)

TAIPEI (CNA) — The National Communications Commission (NCC) said on Dec. 19 that the reporters allegedly involved in an auction to bid for the job to write content marketing schemes for a county government was an issue of journalistic ethics and should be investigated by the media itself.

After investigating whether reporters put in bids and were paid to write paid content for the Hualien County government, the media should submit their findings to the NCC, said the commission’s deputy chief Wong Po-tsung (翁柏宗).

He was commenting on a Mirror Media report earlier in the day, which said that last year then Hualien County Magistrate Fu Kun-chi (傅崐萁) invited bids for jobs to prepare written or video marketing pieces about the county’s policies.

The bidding involved 25 deals, through which the Hualien County government paid NT$140,000 (US$4,545) to NT$280,000 each to reporters stationed in the county from several news organizations, according to the report.

It said the news organizations involved included Taiwan Television (TTV), China Television (CTV), Sanlih E-Television (SET), ETTV, Era News, Formosa Television, CTiTV, Hakka TV, TVBS, Taiwan Indigenous Television (TITV), Keng Shen Daily and United Daily News.

TTV and Hakka TV said their reporters allegedly involved in the issue have resigned, while Formosa TV and TITV said they have suspended the reporters who were said to have taken part in the bid.

Also commenting on the report, the Cabinet-level Public Construction Commission said it is investigating whether the Hualien County government violated the Government Procurement Act.

Meanwhile, Legislator Tuan Yi-kang (段宜康) of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party said he has asked the Ministry of Justice to investigate the matter.

Responding to the allegations against the reporters, the Association of Taiwan Journalists said the news organizations and reporters allegedly involved owe the public an explanation.

In September, Fu was imprisoned on an eight-month sentence for stock market speculation.

By Li Hsien,-feng, Chiang Pei-ling, Chiang Ming-yan, Pan Tzu-yu, Hsiao Po-wen and Frances Huang