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September 22, 2017

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Reciprocity key to Chinese satellite TV: minister

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The issue of whether to grant local landing rights to Chinese satellite TV channels will be considered only if China agrees to offer Taiwanese counterparts similar treatment on a reciprocal basis, Culture Minister Lung Ying-tai said yesterday.

Lung made the remarks on the sidelines of a Legislative Yuan committee hearing after former Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) Chairman Chiang Pin-kung suggested a day earlier that Taiwan consider introducing international news programs broadcast by Hong Kong-based Phoenix TV and Beijing's state-run China Central Television (CCTV) satellite channels to offer local viewers more choice.

Chiang, Taiwan's former top negotiator with China, said at a seminar marking the 20th anniversary of the cross-Taiwan Strait "Koo-Wang Talks" the previous day that he had proposed to President Ma Ying-jeou that Phoenix and CCTV satellite news channels be granted landing rights to help enhance local TV audience's exposure to international news events and distract their attention away from gossip news offered by local TV channels.

Chiang's suggestion immediately drew a backlash in local society, with critics saying that under China's censorship, CCTV news programs reflect only Chinese authorities-sanctioned views or opinions and would not cater to the tastes of TV viewers used to Taiwan's democratic and open society.

Phoenix TV is one of the few privately owned broadcasting companies allowed to broadcast news in China.

Asked about her views on Chiang's proposal, Lung said the issue should be assessed in the context of Taiwan's television industry development.

"First and foremost, the Chinese authorities should be willing to grant landing rights to our TV channels; otherwise, we have no basis to talk about it," Lung said, adding that reciprocity is vital in addressing relevant issues.

Responding to concerns about CCTV's possibly biased news coverage, Lung said this is not the most important issue on the table.

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