Statement by Reporters Without Borders
A democratic government should take pride in protecting the state-owned media’s independence. Protecting their independence is essential in order to guarantee a really democratic political system, a system that allows all political parties and all sectors of society to make their voices heard.
A government that respects the rules of democracy gets its strength from guaranteeing the editorial freedom of the public radio and TV stations, thereby accepting that it will sometimes be criticised by state-sector journalists. Many governments in democratic countries are tempted to put their supporters in charge of the public media in order to influence news content, as we have recently seen in France, Italy and South Korea.
But this temptation is contrary to the spirit of fairness and to the need for a fourth estate that offers independent news coverage. After all, the state-owned media are a public service that is paid for by the taxpayer. They are not the media mouthpieces of the president or ruling party. They are media that are there to serve the public.
The board of Taiwan’s Public Television Service (PTS) has just removed Sylvia Feng as its president nearly a year before the end of her term of office. It is disturbing to see a power struggle at the head of PTS being won by the ruling party’s supporters. So far there is no evidence that this victory is affecting news coverage but we will be watching very carefully for signs that it is.
We would like to express our solidarity with Sylvia Feng in her defence of PTS’s independence.
We would like to think that President Ma will ensure that PTS’s editorial independence continues to be guaranteed. After Reporters Without Borders issued its first statement of concern about this issue in 2008, the authorities assured us that the independence of the state-owned media was a priority for them.
Reporters Without Borders