The renewal of a satellite contract between an independent TV station and Taiwan’s largest telecommunications company is in the public eye in Taiwan, with increasingly vocal support from viewers and politicians who wish to see press freedom in mainland China.
U.S.-based New Tang Dynasty (NTD) Television has been transmitting news on the Chinese regime’s corruption and human rights issues to mainland viewers via Taiwan’s Chungwha Telecom using its S-2 satellite for years. The two-year contract is due for renewal in August, but Chungwha has remained silent on whether they intend to renew it, leading many to believe that business interests in the mainland, or the Chinese Communist Party, are holding sway.
When contacted by NTD on April 30, Leng Tai-fen, general manager of Chungwha’s international branch, said: “I do not wish to talk about this, no no no, no no no. I can’t say anything.”
NTD viewers in Taiwan are keen to see the contract renewed. A regular watcher called Kevin Chui left a remark on the company’s website saying that people want to know the truth, even if Chungwha does not wish to discuss it.
Another viewer called Tsaikuo Lo, also left the comment: “Chunghwa Telecom is doing this because of Chinese funding; China probably owns many of their shares. If even the general manager is afraid to talk, hopefully they’re not acting like puppets.”
Hu Naiwen, a citizen of Taipei, wrote in a comment in response to a story in The Liberty Times on May 1: “In the face of pressure, you must have a conscience, morality, and courage to back you.”
Legislator Yu Mei-nu, Chairwoman of the Association for International Human Rights, a subcommittee in Taiwan’s Legislature, expressed her concern about the contract renewal process in an NTD report. “The government of the Republic of China–a free, open, and autonomous government–should pay close attention to this issue for the sake of the entire media industry.”
An online campaign to collect signatures was also initiated.
Solidarity in Hong Kong
Speaking with The Epoch Times, Wu Chi-wai, a member of Hong Kong’s Legislative Council, said that Taiwan should not become “a silencing tool for the regime.”
“NTD allows international and domestic voices to be heard in this authoritarian and closed-off place, which is very important for the intellect of society as a whole. Hence I believe that NTD plays an unparalleled role in this area.”
Gary Fan Kwok-wai, another Legco member, added, “Regardless of whether it is NTD or other broadcasting stations, they must all maintain freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and freedom of expression. I believe that we should protect and support them, so of course I hope that Chunghwa Telecom swiftly provides the new license and bandwidth to NTD.”