Opposition head asks President Tsai to comment on NCC’s decision

From left: Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), KMT Chairman Johnny Chiang (江啟臣), and President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) are featured in this photo collage. (NOWnews)

TAIPEI (The China Post) — Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) on Thursday dismissed concerns of political interference over the decision of the National Communications Commission (NCC, 國家通訊傳播委員會) to reject CTi News’ (中天新聞) application for a license extension.

The premier told local media that the NCC is an “independent agency,” whose members are experts and scholars who have been selected, vetted and approved by the Legislative Yuan (Parliament).

Asked whether the NCC’s decision to shut down a news outlet critical of the government policies has trampled on press freedom though, Su said that he already answered this question.

Taoyuan Mayor Cheng Wen-tsan (鄭文燦) also remarked that the NCC is the “regulatory body” of Taiwan’s broadcast media, and it exercises its powers and functions independently according to the law.

Yet, the mayor invited the NCC to clearly explain the legality of the results of its deliberations and the basis for its decision to reject the TV station’s application for a license extension.

The front page of The China Times on Wednesday features the word “shame” (可恥) on its front page to describe the agency’s decision a day earlier to unanimously reject CTi News’ (中天新聞) application for a license extension. (The China Post)

Meanwhile, KMT Chairman Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) invited President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to express her views on this topic in order to avoid a confrontation between the ruling and opposition parties.

During a radio interview earlier that morning, Chiang remarked that President Tsai and Premier Su should comment on this issue given that the NCC is supposedly an independent agency.

Chiang asked: “Do you really think the NCC is impartial, independent and objective? Should they respect the opposition and protect the freedom of speech and freedom of the press?”

KMT Legislator Chiang Wan-an (蔣萬安) also believes that respecting different opinions and accommodating diverse voices is a “symbol of a free and democratic country,” and that it is only right that the media monitor the government.

The legislator further expressed concern in a post to Facebook on Wednesday that the NCC’s decision will have an impact on freedom of the press, which is the pride of Taiwan, and may lead to the media chilling effect and self-censorship, which is equally worrying.

According to Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. (鴻海精密) founder Terry Gou (郭台銘), anyone operating a media outlet should maintain journalistic autonomy, which is a consistent attitude with no particular stance, and that the government should uphold consistent standards for continuous media censorship in the future to create a favorable media environment.