Freedom of the Press
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Press Freedom Score (0 = best, 100 = worst)
Legal Environment(0 = best, 30 = worst)
Political Environment(0 = best, 40 = worst)
Economic Environment(0 = best, 30 = worst)
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. The constitution provides for freedom of speech and of the press, and the government generally respects these rights in practice. In April, a court in Taipei sentenced Kao Nien-yi, a journalist for the United Daily News, to a fine of NT $30,000 (US$1,000) per day for refusing to reveal his sources for an article that allegedly caused the stock of a company to lose two-thirds of its value. The sentence was applied for three days before it was suspended. In October, the Constitutional Court held that freedom of publication is not an absolute right, stipulating that certain sexually explicit materials are protected only as long as they are properly packaged and labeled.
The government announced in February that Taiwanese reporters, notorious for their aggressive behavior toward visiting officials and celebrities, will be denied access into restricted areas of Chiang Kai-Shek International Airport to help protect the island’s image. In September, four journalists were attacked by supporters of President Chen Shui-bian during a pro-Chen demonstration in Taipei. At the same demonstration, a presenter for the satellite channel CTI was physically assaulted while interviewing two deputies in the ruling Democratic Progressive Party. In December, leaders of the ruling party said they were refusing to reply to questions from the China Times, a pro-opposition daily.
Taiwan has over 360 privately owned newspapers, 169 radio stations, and widespread availability of cable and satellite television. Print media are completely independent, but broadcast media have been subject to government efforts to regulate programming and to impose licenses through the authority of the Government Information Office (GIO). In a positive move for media impartiality, the politically independent National Communications Commission replaced the GIO in 2006 and given that most Taiwanese can access about 100 cable television stations, the state’s influence on the media is, on balance, minimal. Legislation approved in 2003 barred the government and political party officials from holding positions in broadcast media companies and government entities and political parties were required to divest themselves of all radio and broadcast companies by December 2005. In April 2006, the government donated its 70 percent share of the China Television System to the Public Television Service. The two companies merged into the Taiwan Broadcasting System, which was created in July. The government refrains from restricting internet access, which is currently accessed by approximately 63 percent of the population. Homosexual rights advocacy groups claim that government law enforcement agencies monitored internet chat-room and bulletin-board exchanges among adults. Several nongovernmental organizations reported that law enforcement officials prosecuted and punished adults for posting sexually suggestive messages.