TAIPEI, Dec 10 (Reuters) - A Taiwan television station at
the centre of a dispute over media freedom that could be forced
off the air this week has received a boost to its online
presence, a senior executive said on Thursday, as it prepares to
shift its focus to the internet.
Taiwan's National Communications Commission said last month
it would not renew CTi's broadcasting license, citing evidence
of interference from a tycoon with major business interests in
China, amid fears of Beijing's efforts to win support on the
Chinese-claimed, democratic island.
CTi's major shareholder, Tsai Eng-meng, runs one of China's
largest food firms, Want Want China Holdings Ltd.
The company and Taiwan's main opposition Kuomintang party
have denounced the regulator's decision not to renew the license
as censorship aimed at silencing voices critical of President
Tsai and her government have rejected that, saying the
decision was made by an independent body and not subject to
Sky Liang, the vice president of CTi's news department, told
Reuters it would keep broadcasting, but online, and that its
YouTube channel had gained some 440,000 new subscribers in the
last few weeks, taking its tally to 1.7 million.
"We've been forced to become new media. Doubtless this is a
big challenge, but everyone has prepared themselves
psychologically," Liang said, adding they were looking at
Instagram and Facebook as other areas for development.
The channel is due to go off air at midnight on Friday,
though it has lodged a legal appeal to stop this.
Formerly a dictatorship, Taiwan is an exuberant democracy
but it has a deeply partisan media, and many Taiwanese view CTi,
which began operations in 1994, as being pro-China or "red
media", a reference to China's ruling Communist Party.
Liang said that was an unfair, "malicious" accusation, and
that they took neither instructions nor money from Beijing.
"I've been at CTi for a long time, and as a senior executive
in the news department. I've never come under any pressure from
China or (its) Taiwan Affairs Office on what news to report or
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard
Editing by Robert Birsel)