RSF concerned about Chunghwa Telecom cutting NTDTV’s signal

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has written to Premier Wu Den-yih expressing concern about Chunghwa Telecom’s decision to stop relaying signals from New Tang Dynasty Television (NTDTV). Chunghwa Telecom advised NTDTV in April that they would not renew the contract to relay NTDTV’s signal.  NTDTV uses a Chunghwa Telecom satellite to broadcast Mandarin-language programming into Taiwan and China. RSF wrote:

In an 11 April letter, Chunghwa Telecom told NTD-AP that it would not be able to renew their relay contract when it expires on 9 August because of “insufficient bandwidth” on its new satellite, ST-2, which is about to replace the existing one, ST-1.

“The contradictions in the reasons given by Chunghwa Telecom for not renewing the contract and the supposed limitations of the new satellite’s technical capacity suggest that the real reasons lie elsewhere,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The similarities of this dispute and the dispute between NTD-AP’s parent station, NTD-TV, and the French satellite operator Eutelsat, make us fear the worst. Continue reading

Taiwan steady in Freedom House rankings

Freedom in the World 2001 map of Asia

Freedom House released its Freedom in the World 2011 report yesterday. The report’s key finding was that freedom declined globally for the fifth consecutive year. Freedom House noted that authoritarian regimes like those in China, Egypt, Iran, Russia, and Venezuela continued to step up repressive measures with little significant resistance from the democratic world.

Taiwan’s ranking was unchanged from last year. Taiwan scored one for political rights and two for civil liberties to retain its status as “free”. Taiwan’s scores were the same as South Korea and Japan. The Taipei Times has some comments about Taiwan from a researcher at Freedom House.

“Taiwan remained one of Asia’s strongest democracies,” Sarah Cook, Asia research analyst and assistant editor at Freedom House, told the Taipei Times by e-mail yesterday.

“Municipal elections held [on Nov. 27] were widely viewed as free and fair, despite a shooting at a rally the evening before the polls,” Cook said. Continue reading

Toxic practice spreads to Taiwan blogosphere

China has the 50 Cent Party (五毛黨) to regulate and control content on the internet. Now it seems Taiwan has its own version labelled the $5,000 Party (五千黨). The latter term was coined by convenor of the Taiwan Green Party Pan Han-shen (潘翰聲) on his blog in response to an incident where a group of 20 bloggers where paid NT$5,000 to participate in a tour of a petrochemical plant and write about it on their blog. The Taipei Times reports in more detail:

Pan told the Taipei Times by telephone that the Industrial Development Bureau (IDB) had invited 20 bloggers on a trip to visit a petrochemical plant in Kaohsiung and an electronic appliance plant nearby.

“The trip was totally free for participants. They received free meals and a NT$5,000 cash award,” Pan said. Continue reading

Youth must speak out to protect internet freedom

I had a letter published in the Taipei Times today in response to two recent incidents where freedom of speech on the internet was threatened. I wrote an article on my posterous blog which gives some more background on the issue. The post also includes links to the Hu’s girls videos. Tim Maddog has written a post at Taiwan Matters! on freedom of speech issue. Michael Turton also has more on the issue and notes that the Data Protection Act which will come into effect next year may create further problems for internet users. My letter from the Taipei Times is below.

The Ministry of Education’s attempt to interfere with political discussion on the PTT Internet forum (“Notice to Ministry sparks outrage,” Nov. 4, page 1) marks yet another attack on free speech by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government.

This comes just after an Internet user faced threats of legal action for producing a spoof version of the “Hu’s girls” promotional video for the campaign of Taichung Mayor Jason Hu (胡志強), the KMT candidate for the Greater Taichung mayoral election (“Prosecutors say no suit against altered Hu video,” Nov. 3, page 3). Continue reading

Taiwan’s press freedom ranking improves: RSF

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) released its 2010 Press Freedom Index today. The index ranked Taiwan 48th in the world. This was an improvement of 11 places on its position last year. It is still lower than Taiwan’s 36th place in 2008.

 RSF called the performance of Asia’s democratic countries “impressive.” Japan, ranked 11th, held the highest position of any Asian country. RSF noted, “Taiwan and South Korea, rose 11 and 27 places respectively, after noteworthy falls in the 2009 Index. Although some problems persist, such as the issue of the state-owned media’s editorial independence.”  Continue reading

Taiwan press freedom declines: report

Reporters Without Borders 2009 report on world press freedom ranked Taiwan 59th in the world. This was a significant drop from Taiwan’s ranking of 36th in 2008.

Japan was the leading country in Asia ranked 17th. Reporters Without Borders noted that both South Korea, at 69th, and Taiwan had fallen in the rankings this year. Regarding Taiwan it wrote, “The new ruling party in Taiwan tried to interfere in state and privately-owned media while violence by certain activists further undermined press freedom.”

Reporters Without Borders’ website contains two reports expressing concern about problems with Taiwan’s media in the past twelve months. In November 2008 at least ten journalists were injured in protests over the visit of Chinese official Chen Yunlin. It is important to note that several journalists were injured or interfered with by police or security guards, it was not just the result of the actions of protesters. In December concerns were raised over government interference in public media, including Radio Taiwan International, the Central News Agency and Public Television Service.

Earlier this year Taiwan’s ranking also fell in Freedom House’s 2009 Freedom of the Press report. Although Freedom House still classified Taiwan’s media as free.

Update: The Taipei Times has an article with quotes from GIO Minister Su Jun-pin (蘇俊賓).

Freedom House reports declining media freedom


Freedom House has just released its annual report on media freedom. The report showed press freedom declining for the seventh straight year. Taiwan’s media freedom declined slightly. It previously had the freest media in Asia, but now ranks second behind Japan.

The survey gives countries a score between zero and 100. The lower the score the more free that country’s media is. In 2008 Taiwan ranked 32nd in the world with a score of 20. In 2009 Taiwan slipped back to 43rd with a score of 23. Freedom House noted, “Media in Taiwan faced assault and growing government pressure.” Taiwan’s media is still classified as “Free”. Freedom House notes that declines in Taiwan, Italy and Israel illustrate that established democracies with traditionally open media are not immune to restricting media freedom. Continue reading

New report on independent media


Oiwan Lam of Global Voices sent me information about a new report on independent media in the Chinese speaking world. The report, available in Chinese and English, covers Hong Kong, Taiwan, China and Malaysia. It examines at how independent media has developed in response to control, regulation and monopoly.

Info-Rhizome: Report on Independent Media in the Chinese-speaking World is available for free download for individual use. Donations or purchasing the book is encouraged to help support the work of and further research on media activism. Continue reading