Taiwan: the non-renewal of CTi news channel’s licence does not go against press freedom

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) regrets the non-renewal of news channel CTi TV's broadcasting licence as it bears consequences for its staff but insists that the decision does not go against press freedom.

On 18th November, Taiwan’s independent regulator, National Communications Commission (NCC), announced its decision to deny the renewal of the broadcasting licence of news channel CTi TV, owned by pro-Chinese Want Want China Times Media Group. The regulator made its decision on the grounds that the channel repeatedly violated its licence agreement, receiving 25 fines in the past six years for the spreading of disinformation. A media licence review by an independent regulator is a standard procedure but this is the first time NCC has declined the renewal of a news channel since its establishment in 2006.

"The public has a right to receive accurate information and media owners should not impart content that suits their interests," says Cédric Alviani, RSF East Asia Bureau head. “The de facto shutdown of a news channel is an extreme measure that will bear significant consequences for its staff and we expect NCC to provide the public with complete access to all evidence showing that the licence renewal would have endangered the public interest.”

Want Want China Times Media Group, part of the Want Want industrial conglomerate that has most of its business in China, belongs to Taiwanese tycoon Tsai Eng-meng, who openly displays his sympathy and support for the Chinese Communist Party. In July 2019, the group filed a defamation lawsuit against Financial Times correspondent Kathrin Hille after she reported on China’s meddling in daily newspaper China Times’ editorial direction.

Taiwan, a liberal democracy, is the victim of growing media interference from the People's Republic of China, who aggressively claims its sovereignty on the island. Taiwan’s journalists are also suffering from a very politically polarized media environment dominated by sensationalism and the pursuit of profit, which impairs the right of the public to receive complete and unbiased information.

Taiwan ranks 43rd out of 180 in the 2020 RSF World Press Freedom Index

Read the original RSF press release in English and Chinese:

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Updated on 20.11.2020