Taiwan, officially the Republic of China, is a liberal democracy and the world’s 21st largest economy, that generally respects the principles of media freedom but its journalists suffer from a very polarised media environment dominated by sensationalism and the pursuit of profit.
Taiwan's print media consumption is significantly decreasing while online media outlets and social media such as Yahoo!, Etoday Online, and Line News are widely used. Television is the second most used news source, with TVBS News, Eastern Broadcasting News (ETTV), and Sanlih E-Television News (SET News) being the most watched channels in the country. Public Television Service, an independent public broadcaster, scores as the most trusted media in Taiwan despite its small budget and audience.
The media landscape, although free, is impaired by a strong political polarisation, undeclared advertising, sensationalism, and the pursuit of profit which hinders the work of journalists and can prevent citizens from accessing objective information.
Over the past decades, few concrete measures have been taken by consecutive Taiwanese governments to improve journalists’ editorial independence and encourage media to raise the quality of public debate. Most professionals work under undue pressure from their boardrooms and cannot rely on effective legal protection to refuse unethical journalistic demands.
For a market of almost 24 million people, Taiwan has a rich media environment with around 600 TV and radio broadcasters, with satellite television as the main source of broadcasting revenues.
The Taiwanese have one of the lowest levels of trust in media amongst democracies, which scores last place in the Asia-Pacific region with only a 33% trust rate, according to a Reuters Institute survey in 2021. The structural weaknesses of the Taiwanese media makes them particularly vulnerable to disinformation attacks, especially by the Chinese regime.
Despite the relatively good situation and lack of systemic security issues for journalists, in recent years some of them were targeted with lawsuits, as well as verbally attacked following their reporting, and some politicians publicly disparaged the media.