Taiwan TV station in media freedom row gets Internet boost

Taiwan TV station in media freedom row gets Internet boost
Above, media freedom slogans are displayed at the front entrance to Taiwan’s CTi television building in Taipei on Nov. 18, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 10 December 2020

Taiwan TV station in media freedom row gets Internet boost

Taiwan TV station in media freedom row gets Internet boost
  • The National Communications Commission said last month it would not renew CTi’s broadcasting license
  • Taiwan’s main opposition Kuomintang party have denounced the regulator’s decision

TAIPEI: A Taiwan television station at the center of a dispute over media freedom that could be forced off the air this week has received a boost to its online presence, a senior executive said on Thursday, as it prepares to shift its focus to the Internet.
Taiwan’s National Communications Commission said last month it would not renew CTi’s broadcasting license, citing evidence of interference from a tycoon with major business interests in China, amid fears of Beijing’s efforts to win support on the Chinese-claimed, democratic island.
CTi’s major shareholder, Tsai Eng-meng, runs one of China’s largest food firms, Want Want China Holdings.
The company and Taiwan’s main opposition Kuomintang party have denounced the regulator’s decision not to renew the license as censorship aimed at silencing voices critical of President Tsai Ing-wen.
Tsai and her government have rejected that, saying the decision was made by an independent body and not subject to interference.
Sky Liang, the vice president of CTi’s news department, told Reuters it would keep broadcasting, but online, and that its YouTube channel had gained some 440,000 new subscribers in the last few weeks, taking its tally to 1.7 million.
“We’ve been forced to become new media. Doubtless this is a big challenge, but everyone has prepared themselves psychologically,” Liang said, adding they were looking at Instagram and Facebook as other areas for development.
The channel is due to go off air at midnight on Friday, though it has lodged a legal appeal to stop this.
Formerly a dictatorship, Taiwan is an exuberant democracy but it has a deeply partisan media, and many Taiwanese view CTi, which began operations in 1994, as being pro-China or “red media,” a reference to China’s ruling Communist Party.
Liang said that was an unfair, “malicious” accusation, and that they took neither instructions nor money from Beijing.
“I’ve been at CTi for a long time, and as a senior executive in the news department. I’ve never come under any pressure from China or (its) Taiwan Affairs Office on what news to report or not report.”


Amazon Prime show agrees to changes after India Hindu outcry

Amazon Prime show agrees to changes after India Hindu outcry
Updated 21 January 2021

Amazon Prime show agrees to changes after India Hindu outcry

Amazon Prime show agrees to changes after India Hindu outcry
  • The Amazon Prime drama “Tandav” drew criticism from members of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party
  • Several BJP politicians called for the show to be banned

MUMBAI: The cast and crew of a popular streaming series starring Bollywood megastar Saif Ali Khan have agreed to “implement changes” to the show after ruling party politicians accused it of insulting Hindu gods.
The Amazon Prime drama “Tandav” — loosely compared to the US series “House of Cards” — drew criticism from members of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party after its Friday release.
Several BJP politicians called for the show to be banned, saying it was “deliberately mocking Hindu gods” and disrespecting religious sentiments.
One of the criticized scenes depicts a university play in which Hindu deity Shiva talks about “azaadi” (freedom), a rallying cry from 2019’s anti-government protests across the country.
“The cast and crew of Tandav have made the decision to implement changes to the web series to address the concerns raised,” director Ali Abbas Zafar wrote in a post on Twitter late Tuesday.
The cast and crew also apologized on Monday, with Zafar saying that the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting had told the team it had received “a large number of grievances and petitions... with serious concerns and apprehensions” over the series.
“’Tandav’ is a work of fiction and any resemblance to acts and persons and events is purely coincidental,” he said Monday.
The petitioners include Ram Kadam, a BJP lawmaker in Mumbai, who said he was “fighting for Hindu pride and trying to ensure that nobody dare to mock our Hindu Gods.”
Leading streaming platforms, including Netflix, Amazon and Disney’s Hotstar, have expanded their presence in the country of 1.3 billion, including by commissioning local content.
The streaming TV services are not subject to the country’s notoriously fussy censor boards, which regularly cut scenes.
But there have been growing calls, particularly from BJP politicians, for the shows to be subject to the same scrutiny.
The most recent controversy involved the BBC’s TV version of Vikram Seth’s epic bestselling novel, “A Suitable Boy,” which is streaming on Netflix, over a scene where a Hindu girl kisses a Muslim boy in front of a temple.
A BJP politician in November filed a police complaint saying the show had hurt Hindus’ religious sentiments.