The Kuomintang (KMT) legislative caucus proposed new legislative measures on Tuesday (Dec. 9) that, if enacted, would violate the widely embraced principle of government and military non-interference in the Fourth Estate and deprive Public Television Services and its member channels, Taiwan Indigenous Television, Taiwan Hakka Television and Taiwan Macroview Television of their independence.
If the proposed legislation is passed, the above four public television channels would require prior item-by-item governmental approval for all budgetary dispersals. The KMT party holds an over three-quarters majority in the legislature. President Ma Ying-Jeou is a member and former KMT party chairman.
Public Television Services Foundation issued an emergency public statement on Tuesday evening critical of the proposed measures. In the statement, the foundation appeals to the public to support the independence of Public Television and uphold Taiwan’s democratic values.
↓The official statement by the PTS
Public Television Service Foundation Statement
Taiwan Public Television Service (PTS) was founded in the spirit of the Public Television Act to strengthen the development of public television broadcasting in Taiwan. PTS’s core mission is to establish a public broadcasting system in service of the public interest, maintain independent and autonomous media operation, and defend freedom of speech and the public’s right to know where the corporate media is unable to deliver.
However, at a time when PTS should be celebrating its 10th anniversary, US$14 million – half of the legally appropriated annual budget of US$28 million – has been frozen by the Legislative Yuan for nearly one year. During this time, PTS has made every effort to communicate with the Legislative Yuan through official channels and appealed for assistance from the Government Information Office (GIO).
PTS has further demonstrated ample good faith through the submission of assorted operational plans and performance reports in the effort to justify the resumption of its budget. However, not only have these actions failed to elicit a direct response from the GIO, neither has the Legislative Yuan offered a clear rationale for the continued budget freeze. Similarly, the GIO has also failed to respond to PTS’s request for assistance in retaining the suspended US$14 million budget.
The budget suspension has had a dire impact upon PTS, hampering daily operation, program production, and the payment of fees to commissioned production houses and partners. On December 9, 2008, we were shocked to learn that the Education and Culture Committee and Internal Affairs Committee of the Legislative Yuan have each passed the proposition to impose the resolution on Public Television. The proposal states that Public Television Service (PTS), Taiwan Indigenous TV (TITV), Hakka TV, and Macroview TV can only disburse programming and production budgets upon prior item-by-item government approval. The resolution even contains the further provisions that would empower the Council of Indigenous Peoples, Council for Hakka Affairs, and Overseas Compatriot Affairs Commission to exercise censorship and oversight over the programming policy and daily operation of their respective subordinate media agencies.
The proposed legislation seriously violates the social consensus for all political parties to withdraw from media operation. Further, it seriously threatens the independence of public media and violates the intent of The Statute of Disposition of Government-owned Shares in Terrestrial TV Industry. If passed, it would signify the undoing of hard-won freedom of the media and democratic progress in Taiwan.
PTS operates in strict accordance with the legal responsibilities accorded in the Public TV Act. Over the course of its history PTS has never transgressed its designated role and has always respected criticism and suggestions from the legislature and society. However, we will never accept unjustified interference in our independence, and will take whatever steps necessary to protect the freedom of public media and the core democratic values that the people of Taiwan have cultivated at great cost.
如今，在公共電視創台十週年之際，九十七年度法定編列捐贈預算九億元，自去年十二月中遭立法院凍結四億五仟萬元，迄今已長達十二個月仍未撥付。期間公共電 視透過正常程序不斷向立法院溝通、向新聞局求援，一切努力，從未間斷；同時更已盡最大努力，配合立法院之需求提供一切管理營運計畫與績效報告，以爭取年度 法定預算之解凍，但至今不僅仍未獲得立法院正面之回應，立法院亦未明確告知不解凍之理由。對於主管機關新聞局，公共電視在十一月中亦去函要求協助對仍遭凍 結的四億五仟萬元預算申請年度保留，但迄今，同樣未獲新聞局正式回覆。
值此年終歲末之際，公共電視依法應編列捐贈之預算仍有四億五仟萬元遭凍結，已嚴重影響公共電視日常營運週轉、節目製播，以及廠商往來付款之正常運作。昨 （12/09）日更驚見立法院教育文化委員會與內政委員會分別通過對公共電視台、原住民族電視台、客家電視台、宏觀電視台之九十八年度預算執行施以附加決 議，要求各台於執行明年度預算時須逐項報請主管機關核可同意始能動支，更明文要求原住民族委員會、客家委員會、僑務委員會等機關要對所主管之電視台執行節 目製播、審核、監督之責。
公共電視一切營運乃根據公視法所賦予的法定責任，從未逾越，並尊重立法院與全體公民對公共電視之批評與指教，但絕不接受任 何可能破壞媒體獨立自主，損害公共媒體價值之不當干預。公共電視更將盡一切力量捍衛媒體自由與台灣得來不易的民主價值，為全國人民保存一塊媒體淨土，並籲 請所有珍惜民主價值的國人同胞共同支持。