Pro-Taiwan media under threat? Talking Show is cutting hours
The weekend slots for the most popular political commentary programme in Taiwan, Talking Show, have been cancelled. The show is known for using real figures and evidence to comment on or criticise the KMT and Ma Ying-jeou. As the majority of Taiwanese media are very pro-KMT and pro-China, to the extent that show hosts, guests or journalists wouldn’t mind making allegations about the Green camp without evidence backing them up and unfairly blaming everything on the Green camp, the show host, Cheng Hung-yi, decided to inject a sense of fairness and make pro-Taiwan arguments. Although he is pro-Taiwan, his arguments and comments are always based on concrete evidence such as published figures or news reports. When he misreads or misinterprets things, he always makes corrections and apologises as soon as he’s spoted them rather than letting them pass.
Talking Show has been the number one political commentary programme in Taiwan for a long time according to Neilson Rating. It has been the most popular since Ma Ying-jeou took office because it has been the only show which looks into issues really concerning Taiwanese, e.g. the economy, petrol prices, government budget, parliamentary process, human rights in Taiwan etc. while other political commentary programmes go on bashing Chen Shui-bian all the time (as if he is still running the country).
The reason given for cutting hours was cost saving but I am really not convinced because a number one show with that level of popularity brings in a lot more revenues from commercials than it costs unless someone tries to block that income or pressurises the company by other means. A lot of people have been asking the TV company, Sanlih, to have a replay of the show during the day and that replay alone can bring in a sizeable income but Sanlih has always refused. The recent political climate and government interferences in the media make people suspect that this has something to do with political pressure.
Coincidentally, the pro-Taiwan weekly magazine, New Taiwan, is now stopping its publication. The government did not make any orders but the National Communications Council (NCC) has allegedly been making trouble to the magazine’s distributors and the Investigation Bureau has allegedly been harassing companies that placed adverts in the magazine. The strategy seems to be cutting off the magazine’s income by harassment so that the magazine wouldn’t survive. I don’t know whether Talking Show has been subject to similar strategies but the KMT government officials seem to really hate the show. Premier and health minister openly accused Talking Show of misleading the public in the parliament during the Chinese toxic milk scandal when the government was the one misleading the public. NCC announced that they would like to start exercising tighter control on political commentary shows. The KMT legislator asked NCC to reprimand Sanlih and Talking Show. Now, Talking Show is cutting hours… are these things just coincidences?
Update: The Talking Show clips on the South News and Taiwan US websites were found to be tempered with a spyware (hacking tool) around 4th Dec. I don’t think the South News or Taiwan US would do this because they’ve been providing this service for ages without any problem. The spyware was put on them after the KMT expressed their resentment towards Talking Show and around the time the hours are being cut. It really arouses suspicion. I honestly don’t know what this spyware does to my computer and its activities if left undetected. Even if it doesn’t do much actual harm to computer or intrude privacy, it’s certainly putting those who are aware of this problem off watching Talking Show on those websites for the time being.