IFJ Condemns Government Interference in Taiwan Media

Update: On October 11 the Government Information Office issued a statement to the IFJ in response to this media release. The statement can be read here.

 

The International

Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has expressed fears for the independence of Taiwan’s

media after escalating instances of government interference in state-owned

media.

 

The IFJ has learned that the Government

Information Office (GIO) demanded on September 26 that the state-owned Central

News Agency (CNA) alter reports on the contaminated milk powder scandal which

has engulfed China.

 

GIO also demanded that CNA withdraw

a report which criticised President Ma Ying-Jeou, who took office on May 20

after the Kuomintang (Nationalist) party won elections in March.

 

GIO was also implicated recently in

a scandal after the chairman of Radio Taiwan International

(RTI), Taiwan’s state-owned

broadcaster, claimed that the Government had asked RTI not to broadcast reports

that were too critical

of China.

 

RTI chairman Cheng Yu and several

independent board directors of RTI resigned on September 30 in protest after

news reports suggested that GIO and the new Kuomintang government had put

pressure on RTI to change its editorial focus. GIO denied the reports.

 

An

anonymous source told the IFJ that Taiwan’s Government was angered by RTI’s

frequent criticism

of President Ma Ying-Jeou. RTI has

13 language services which broadcast

worldwide, including into mainland China.

 

In

another recent development, the Government appointed Lo Chih-Chiang, a former

spokesperson for President Ma Ying-Jeou’s campaign, to the position of Deputy

President of CNA in early October. The Kuomintang party also nominated four government

legislators to new positions on the Board of Supervisors for Taiwan’s Public Television Service.

 

“Taiwan’s new Government

is exhibiting worrying reflexes towards attempting to control the media,” IFJ Asia-Pacific said.

 

“These

latest appointments and directives suggest the Government fails to understand

the critical importance of editorial independence in a democratic society.”

 

The IFJ condemns Taiwan’s apparent interference in

state-owned media and urges government authorities to refrain from further acts

that could jeopardise editorial independence.

 

For more information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919

 

The IFJ represents over 600,000 in 122 countries worldwide