Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A small victory for freedom

An agreement between the largest telecoms operator in Taiwan and New Tang Dynasty Television gives hope that whenever pressure is strong and sustained enough, Taiwan can retain its hard-earned liberties and values

Under an administration that has faced its share of criticism by free speech advocates and journalists’ associations over the past three years, news last week that a row between New Tang Dynasty Television (NTD) and Chunghwa Telecom had been resolved was reason to rejoice.

Following weeks of uncertainty over whether Chunghwa Telecom, Taiwan’s largest telecommunications operator, would reverse its decision not to renew the broadcasting contract for NTD once it switched transmission to a new satellite in August, officials confirmed that an agreement had been reached and that the 3 million or so people in Taiwan who subscribe to the channel would continue to be able to watch it.

Chunghwa Telecom’s initial reaction, which contained both contradictions over alleged technical limitations and signs of intransigence, only inflamed speculation that the decision to drop NTD, well known for its critical reportage on the Chinese Communist Party, may have been political. The fact that the initial decision coincided with news that Chunghwa Telecom was expanding into the Chinese market could only compound fears that the company had struck a Faustian deal for reasons of access to the huge market across the Taiwan Strait.

My unsigned editorial, published today in the Taipei Times, continnues here.

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