RSF concerned about Chunghwa Telecom cutting NTDTV's signal

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has written to Premier Wu Den-yih expressing concern about Chunghwa Telecom’s decision to stop relaying signals from New Tang Dynasty Television (NTDTV). Chunghwa Telecom advised NTDTV in April that they would not renew the contract to relay NTDTV’s signal.  NTDTV uses a Chunghwa Telecom satellite to broadcast Mandarin-language programming into Taiwan and China. RSF wrote:

In an 11 April letter, Chunghwa Telecom told NTD-AP that it would not be able to renew their relay contract when it expires on 9 August because of “insufficient bandwidth” on its new satellite, ST-2, which is about to replace the existing one, ST-1.

“The contradictions in the reasons given by Chunghwa Telecom for not renewing the contract and the supposed limitations of the new satellite’s technical capacity suggest that the real reasons lie elsewhere,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The similarities of this dispute and the dispute between NTD-AP’s parent station, NTD-TV, and the French satellite operator Eutelsat, make us fear the worst.

“In the latter case, it was established that the Chinese authorities were involved and had pressured Eutelsat to stopping relaying NTD-TV, which they have repeatedly criticized. If it turns out that the same has happened with NTD-AP, the credibility of the Taiwanese government, which has a controlling share of Chunghwa Telecom, will be badly damaged.”

J. Michael Cole at the Taipei Times earlier wrote a detailed article questioning Chunghwa Telecom’s actions. According to Cole contradictions in Chunghwa Telecom’s responses raised questions about possible interference by Taiwanese or Chinese authorities in the decision not to renew the contract.

This is yet another issue causing concern about declining press freedom in Taiwan since the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) took office in 2008. Some of these concerns were detailed in an article published on on the government operated Taiwan Today website last week. However, the article is currently unavailable. I have recovered it from Google’s cache and republished it here. I have written to Taiwan Today asking for an explanation. A free press is one of the pillars of democracy. Unfortunately it seems this pillar is continuing to erode in Taiwan.

Update: NTD-AP angry at lack of progress in Chunghwa dispute, Taipei Times, 1 June 2011

Update 2: NTD TV, Chunghwa reach agreement, Taipei Times, 21 June 2011