Talking Show & NCC
Since I last blogged about issues about Talking Show, Taipei City Councillor, Chien, Yuyen explained in her blog the danger behind Sanlih’s decision to take over the production of Talking Show. First of all, external production gives the production team freedom and independence to set their topics and contents. Internal production means that they will inevitably be pressurised by the Sanlih executive who have to compromise and follow the direction of those who pay for their commercials. Chien presented evidence (images of original charts and budgets) on her blog which showed how the KMT administration and local government used taxpayer’s money to buy commercials, publicising their achievements (which NCC turned a blind eye on). This could brainwash influence the public and also control commercial media companies.
Furthermore, the original Talking Show production team worked well together and was brilliant in their ability to find materials and evidence to back up their arguments and drawn the public attentions to the issues. This requires good search ability, journalist instincts and teamwork. She expressed concern about the future of the programme if the production team was changed. Chien predicted that if Talking Show was still running after the lunar New Year, there would be more negative press on the show in Blue leaning media, which may serve to discredit the show or shake regular viewers’ confidence and loyalty to the show.
Indeed, on 3rd February 2009, National Communication Commission (NCC) announced that Talking Show and Sanlih TV received the most viewer complaints. The reasons for complaint given by NCC were simply inaccurate reporting and bias. No specific reports or incidents were identified. There was no mention of investigations into those complaints and the outcome of those investigations. They just singled out Talking Show and Sanlih with unsubstantiated viewer complaints. NCC didn’t tell the public who (not revealing the ID of the person but showing some proof of validation of IDs) made the complaints and the channels through which the complaints were made. NCC also didn’t tell the public the numbers of errors and complaints other companies or programmes had, like they did when DPP was in charge.
NCC then approved a draft amendment to the Satellite Radio and Television Law to tighten the regulations on news and talk show programmes. NCC emphasised that programmes “must follow fact-checking procedures and the principles of equality.” Companies that broadcast the programmes judged inappropriate will be fined. This is again heavily criticised.
While the principles look alright, who can validate NCC’s judgement on fairness and equality? While fact checking is essential, exactly what sources does one have to check and base their argument on to fulfil ‘fact-checking’? If one checks all sources and decides to go along with academic writing and scientific analyses rather than government announcements in the end, is this person going to get done for not using the government sources? Although individuals who ‘violate’ the regulation will not be punished, does anyone think TV companies are going to keep those whose arguments that keep getting them fined by NCC?