Taiwan takes pro-China TV station CTi off the air

Station often violated broadcast rules, says regulator; it can still stream on YouTube

China-friendly candidate Han Kuo-yu (above).
China-friendly candidate Han Kuo-yu (above).

A pro-China cable TV station in Taiwan was taken off the air yesterday after the media regulator found it had failed to address findings of bias and disinformation, and declined to renew its licence.

Chung T'ien Television's (CTi) licence expired yesterday.

Prior to going off-air, CTi - one of Taiwan's most-watched cable news stations - put out a 42-hour live broadcast of its anchors and hosts chatting about their experiences working for the station, and its 26 years of broadcast history.

CTi is owned by Want Want China Times Media Group, which also owns pro-China newspaper The China Times and snack manufacturer Want Want.

Want Want's management is known for being critical of President Tsai Ing-wen's pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), and the company-owned news outlets produce coverage that leans towards China.

Taiwan's National Communications Commission (NCC) announced on Nov 18 that it had unanimously decided not to renew CTi's broadcast licence, in effect shutting it down.

NCC chairman Chen Yaw-shyang said CTi had violated broadcast regulations repeatedly, with viewer complaints to the commission rising in the past three years.

Last year alone, CTi was the subject of more than 960 public complaints to the regulator, or about 30 per cent of all complaints about TV programming, he added.

Mr Chen said Want Want chairman Tsai Eng-meng had meddled in the station's news production.

Mr Tsai has long been an advocate for Taiwan's unification with China. He is the island's second-richest man with a fortune of US$5.6 billion (S$7.6 billion), after Foxconn founder Terry Gou with US$6.1 billion, based on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

CTi's content can still stream on online platforms like YouTube, said the NCC.

The station received much public attention in the weeks leading up to Taiwan's presidential election on Jan 11, when it dedicated much of its coverage to lauding the China-friendly candidate Han Kuo-yu. It zeroed in on details like his demeanour, the way he dressed and the jokes he made.

NCC's decision regarding CTi may be the most severe penalty a local media outlet has received because of its ties with China, but it is not the first time that "red media", or China-leaning media, has made headlines. In June last year, more than 100,000 people marched in Taipei to protest against "red media". Among them were DPP and third-party lawmakers as well as politicians, professors and Internet influencers.

The protest resulted in discussions in Parliament the following week, when DPP lawmakers proposed amending laws governing cross-strait relations and media laws to prevent China from meddling in local news production.

CTi has hit back, saying NCC's move was politically motivated.

A week after NCC's decision, CTi filed for an injunction but this was rejected by the court. The station said on Monday that it will be filing an appeal, but as of yesterday, no appeal had been filed.


  • 'No' to pro-China businesses

  • Businesses in Taiwan that are seen as China-friendly face the risk of being snubbed by locals. Here are some examples:

    1 WANT WANT GROUP-OWNED BUSINESSES SUCH AS THE CHINA TIMES AND CTI NEWS, AND SNACKS

    The boycott began in 2012 when chairman Tsai Eng-meng told The Washington Post that the Tiananmen protests on June 4, 1989, did not end in a massacre and "not that many people died".

    Former Tiananmen student activist leader Wang Dan posted on Facebook, calling for the public to boycott Mr Tsai's businesses.

    His call was echoed by some Taiwanese democracy activists and publishers, and supported by many Taiwanese who vowed not to buy the popular Want Want rice crackers.

    2 17 BUBBLE TEA FRANCHISES, INCLUDING TRUEDAN, GONG CHA, CHATIME AND YI FANG

    They were listed by numerous netizens last year on social media sites, including Facebook and PTT, the largest terminal-based bulletin board system in Taiwan.

    Behind the campaign were mainly younger Taiwanese who shared posts on which franchises to stop patronising.

    The shops were targeted after they posted press statements that referred to Taiwan as "Taiwan, China" or expressed views that put China in a favourable light.

    3 WU PAO CHUN BAKERIES

    Award-winning baker Wu Pao-chun was criticised when he said he was born in "Taiwan, China" and was "proud of being Chinese" in a press statement released in December 2018, shortly after his first bakery in China opened.

    4 NEWS OUTLETS WITH CHINA-FRIENDLY VIEWS

    United Daily News and EBC News, a satellite cable news channel operated by Eastern Television.

    Katherine Wei

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 12, 2020, with the headline Taiwan takes pro-China TV station CTi off the air. Subscribe