Taiwan | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press

Taiwan

Taiwan

Freedom of the Press 2006

2006 Scores

Press Status

Free

Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)

20

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

7

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

6

A consolidated democracy, Taiwan is known for having one of the freest media environments in East Asia because of its firm commitment to judicial independence and economic freedom. President Chen Shui-bian and Vice President Lu Hsiu-lien were themselves victims of political repression in the 1980s and have been eager to champion freedom of speech since taking office in 2000. Nevertheless, in 2005 President Chen's administration was criticized by Reporters Sans Frontieres and the Committee to Protect Journalists for ordering the abrupt closure of cable television news station ETTV-S because of "irresponsible" reporting. In October 2005, the Parliament passed a law establishing the National Communications Commission (NCC) to replace the Government Information Office (GIO) in overseeing the operations of the broadcast media. The NCC is an independent body under the Executive Yuan. However, in late October, the GIO, while still in operation, threatened to close the popular television station TVBS, which the GIO asserted was in violation of a law barring foreign ownership of the media. In April, Chen's cabinet spokesman announced a temporary ban on Chinese media outlets Xinhua News Agency and the People's Daily newspaper from posting journalists in Taiwan, because the two media "continuously publish unfriendly, biased, and distorted or outrageous reports about Taiwan." The banned media are the official mouthpieces of the Chinese Communist Party in Beijing.

The Taiwanese press is "vigorous and active," according to the human rights report issued by the U.S. State Department. Print media are completely independent, but electronic media have been subject to government influence through the GIO's authority to regulate broadcast programming and the radio and television licensing process. Taiwan has over 350 privately owned newspapers, 150 radio stations, and widespread availability of cable and satellite television. Given that most Taiwanese can access approximately 100 cable television stations, the state's influence on the media is, on balance, minimal. Legislation approved in 2003 barred the government, political parties, and political party officials from owning or running media organizations and led to the establishment of eight new public television channels. Members of the Nationalist and Democratic Progressive parties have given up considerable television and radio holdings. In December 2005, the Nationalist Party divested itself of holdings in the China Broadcasting Corporation, Chinese Television Company, and China Motion Picture Corporation. The government refrains from restricting internet access which is currently accessible to more than 60 percent of the population.