TAIWAN: NCC investigates alleged 'fake' Morakot relief call-in TV show

A blog post alleges relief show collected information from people stricken by Typhoon Morakot but never forwarded the information cards to the central disaster relief center

The China Post
Friday, August 14, 2009

Taipei, Taiwan --- The media watchdog is investigating a possible major mishandling of information from a Morakot relief TV call-in show after being tipped off by an individual yesterday.

A woman, surnamed Pang, posted a Web link on the media content complaint blog of the National Communications Commission (NCC) to a blog article supposedly written by a person working on a TV call-in program by ERA Communication Co. Ltd.

In the blog article, the writer claimed that notes containing information collected on the program, which served as a coordination center that people stricken by the typhoon can contact for help, "were just piled up on a table and generally ignored."

"I searched for answers (for such ignorance), yet all I got are weird smiles and fingers over lips, implying me to 'hush.' From 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., nobody seemed to care about the plea for help from the crying and desperate people who called in," the writer said in the article.

The blog in question, which accused ERA for taking advantage of the needs of the victims in search for higher rankings, is currently closed.

The NCC will require ERA to explain the case and will conduct investigations on the matter, Jason Ho, head of the watchdog said yesterday.

Since the authenticity of the blog article has yet to be proved, the NCC will not comment on the detail of possible punishment. However, since the incident involves news ethics, media negligence and damage to the people's rights, the NCC will handle the case with care, Ho said.

ERA said in a statement that the station had "sent the compiled information to the central disaster relief center and the ERA interview centers in central and southern Taiwan."

The TV station will also take legal action against people who produce and spread untrue comments, the statement said.