Mirror Media sees back-to-back controversies ahead of TV network launch

by Brian Hioe

PPhoto credit: 鏡新聞/Facebook

MIRROR MEDIA EFFORTS to establish a television network have faced ongoing problems over the past few months. Mirror Media is currently hoping to establish a television network called Mirror News.

Mirror Media had its application to launch a news channel approved by the National Communications Commission (NCC) in January. This is the NCC’s first approval of a news channel in ten years and came only after two years of review.

The NCC established 26 regulations for Mirror Media with which it had to comply. The most sensitive of these regulations concerned the separation of the operation of the Mirror Media newsroom from its management, as well as the fact that Mirror Media had to comply with the anti-infiltration law and the law governing relations between the inhabitants of the Taiwan area and the mainland area. . Investments by the Chinese government or foreign entities seeking to influence Taiwanese policy would be punished.

Media mirror logo

To that extent, much of the NCC’s concern was whether Mirror News would engage in tabloid-style reporting similar to Mirror Media’s content. In particular, Taiwanese news is notorious for having poor fact-checking practices, and the NCC’s concerns center on whether Mirror News is becoming a platform for spreading disinformation and misinformation – which is particularly concerning given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and China’s “cognitive warfare.” target Taiwan with misinformation and misinformation.

Now, Mirror News is set to launch in May, with Mirror Media’s license lasting six years and allowing broadcast to begin three to six months after receiving the license. Mirror News has recruited over 400 staff and will produce eighteen hours of daily content. It will be sixteen hours of real-time news, two hours of in-depth news, one hour of international news and one hour of cultural content. International news will cover 15% of hourly content. Additionally, Mirror News claims it will be the first news network in Taiwan to feature news targeting minors.

To allay the NCC’s concerns, Mirror News also announces that it will use an ombudsman system, as the first media in Taiwan to do so.

Indeed, the Mirror News endorsement came after the NCC ruled against renewing the broadcast license renewal of Want Want group-owned CtiTV in November 2020. TV stations and newspapers belonging to the Want Want group have been accused of taking Chinese state funds and say in their editorial office of the Taiwan Affairs Office of China. Similarly, in May 2019, CtiTV devoted 70% of its airtime to coverage of its favorite presidential candidate, Han Kuo-yu.

Although CtiTV also had a mediator before its license was renewed, that person, Chen Ching-ho, vice president of Shih Hsin University, said he hadn’t had time to review the network’s content as a whole. By contrast, the Mirror News Ombudsman will have an office, a full-time position and two assistants.

At the same time, NCC members have expressed skepticism towards Mirror News. Two members of the CNC published an open letter in February who was skeptical of the network’s ability to maintain adequate funding since the network claimed that 30% of revenue would come from producing content for government agencies, but it was unclear who would control the network.

National Communications Commissions Ren’ai Road Headquarters. Photo credit: Solomon203/WikiCommons/CC

Under the terms of the Mirror News license, it must increase its assets from NT 1.35 billion to NT 2 billion within six months. Shareholders could not own more than 15% of the company, Mirror News staff could not serve on the board or management, and half of Mirror News’ board had to be non-shareholders .

Concerns about the possibility of management interfering in the operation of the newsroom have already been raised. Namely, in March, Mirror News quickly swapped between four different presidents and shuffled its board of directors in quick succession. Among those nominated for the presidency are former Chunghwa Telecom chairman Cheng Yu, the most recent chairman, director Yang Ya-che and Paper Windmill Theater founder Lee Yung-feng. Among the reasons for the dismissals were allegations that there had been interference by the president in the company’s information management.

Some rumors suggest that NCC chief Chen Yaw-shyang approved license from Mirror News because of DPP factionalism. TPP lawmakers Tsai Pi-ru and Lai Hsiang-ling criticized Mirror News for illegally sharing staff with other branches of Mirror Media. NPP lawmaker Chen Jiao-hua also criticized the fact that Mirror News officials were found to be paying NT 100,000 to former NCC officials in consultancy fees, suggesting bribes to try to pull the strings, though Chen’s calls to investigate were reportedly blocked by DPP lawmakers.

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