KMT’s interference in Taiwanese media: conflict of interest
Following the ‘save the Public TV Service (PTS)’ protest, the KMT whip, Lin Yi-shih, refuted the notion of KMT interference. (For a full background of this matter, please see Michael’s post ‘KMT Takes over Public TV’.) Lin said that the PTS needed to explain why the PTS fell behind on their efficiency and refused to make their account transparent to the legislature and if the PTS complied with their request, he was willing to talk to other KMT MPs with a view to unfreeze the PTS budget. Lin argued that it is perfectly within the remit of the parliament to oversee the government budget.
If the PTS were really not doing well, the strategy should have been reviewing the management by a truly independent body rather than giving the government (KMT) the power, directly or indirectly, to approve and monitor the programming of the entire PTS.
While people are focusing on the government interference with freedom of speech, Frank Hsieh, the DPP 2008 presidential candidate, pointed out another potential breach of political ethics in his own radio programme (broadcast both on the radio and on the internet) on 14th January 2009. He prompted his audience to think about who would benefit if the PTS failed or became restricted in what they could do and achieve. Who could bid for the second equipment if the PTS became history? The obvious answer is the commercial TV companies. Hsieh went on to explain that quite a few KMT officials’ or MPs’ spouses or relatives are high up in various commercial TV companies and there are clear conflicts of interest. He is of the opinion that the purpose of the KMT’s manoeuvre against the PTS is more than just advancing their control over the messages conveyed by the media.