Thousands of people joined a rally in support of PTS (公共電視), Taiwan’s Public Television Service, in Taipei today. The rally was organised by the National Association for the Promotion of Community Universities, Media Watch and Citizen Congress Watch. There was additional participation by dozens of NGOs and community groups.
The rally began with the crowd gathering at Freedom Square (自由廣場). There was a performance by Hakka musician Lin Sheng-xiang (林生祥) to entertain the crowd. After speeches and instructions the crowd marched to the Legislative Yuan.
PTS’s independence and capacity to continue producing a diverse range of programs is under threat as a result of a number of actions by the KMT government. The Legislative Yuan has frozen some NT$450 million dollars in funds, about half of PTS’s annual budget. Another proposal by the legislature to individually scrutinise each item in the budget is seen as an attempt to exert political control over programming.
A petition on the PTS website has already gathered over 150,000 signatures. As numerous speakers at the rally noted support for PTS comes from all sectors of society and people of all political affiliations. At the international level Reporters Without Borders have expressed concern about the political interference in Taiwan’s media.
PTS also includes Taiwan Indigenous Television, Taiwan Hakka Television and Taiwan Macroview Television. Another important media outlet established by PTS is the internet based Citizen’s News Channel PeoPo. I have enjoyed watching a number of interesting documentaries produced by PTS. I know that if it were not for PTS they would probably never have been made. It really plays a vital role in reporting community activities that would rarely be covered by commercial television stations.