NCC to probe media figure’s planned appointment to KMT advisory body

Taipei-Taiwan's National Communications Commission (NCC) on Thursday pledged a fair and impartial investigation into whether the opposition Kuomintang's (KMT's) plans to appoint media personality Jaw Shaw-kong (???) to its Central Advisory Committee would violate laws protecting media independence.

The NCC statement came after the KMT announced on Wednesday that it plans to appoint Jaw -- the host of television and radio programs popular with the party's supporters -- and five others to the advisory committee at its next National Congress later this year.

Jaw, 70, rejoined the KMT earlier this month after leaving the party almost 30 years ago, and has said he plans to seek the party's nomination for president in 2024.

After the announcement, the NCC said it would investigate the legality of Jaw's appointment, in light of his roles as the chairman and largest shareholder of the Broadcast Corporation of China (BCC).

If Jaw is found to have accepted the position illegally, BCC could face fines of up to NT$2 million (US$71,576), the commission said.

In an interview on Thursday, NCC Vice Chairman Wong Po-tsong (???) explained that the probe would examine whether the advisory committee role, as defined in the KMT's party charter, should be subject to restrictions that ban political and government officials from media ownership.

The law in question - Article 5-1 of the Radio and Television Act - states that political party workers, political appointees and elected public officials may not invest in or hold stock totaling more than 1 percent of the issued shares of a radio or television company.

The act defines a political party worker as "a person holding a position specified in the charter or organizational framework of a political party, but not those holding consultative positions."

The KMT charter, meanwhile, lists several duties for members of the advisory committee, including making recommendations on the party's direction, advising its chairman, and overseeing matters related to the party's platform, discipline and finances.

On Thursday, the KMT issued a press release accusing the NCC of arbitrarily expanding the scope of the law and acting as a "tool of the (governing) Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)."

In separate remarks, Jaw argued that the Central Advisory Committee's function is clearly consultative, noting that it has over 1,000 members and meets only once a year.

Jaw said, if he were to be elected to a political role such as KMT chairman, he would be entirely willing to step down from his media positions and divest from any related investments.

Jaw said the NCC was harming its image by launching what he considered to be a politically motivated investigation, and predicted that if it tried to fine him for accepting the appointment, he would fight it in court and win.

This latest dispute comes just months after the NCC faced accusations of political bias from the KMT for its decision to deny a broadcast license extension to CTiTV, a cable news network that was known for being critical of the DPP and favorable to China.

Wong, however, insisted that the NCC would conduct the investigation impartially and make its judgment "based on the law."

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel