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Cablegate: Money Talks - Taiwan "Blue" and "Green" Media Run Each

VZCZCXRO5672
RR RUEHCN RUEHGH
DE RUEHIN #0093/01 0180642
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 180642Z JAN 08
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7946
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 7758
RUEHGP/AMEMBASSY SINGAPORE 7208
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 9018
RUEHSH/AMCONSUL SHENYANG 6311
RUEHGZ/AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU 0884
RUEHGH/AMCONSUL SHANGHAI 1700
RUEHCN/AMCONSUL CHENGDU 2341

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TAIPEI 000093

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR INR/R/MR, EAP/TC, EAP/P, EAP/PD - NIDA EMMONS

DEPARTMENT PASS AIT/WASHINGTON

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS


E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR KPAO PREL SCUL TW
SUBJECT: MONEY TALKS - TAIWAN "BLUE" AND "GREEN" MEDIA RUN EACH
OTHER'S ADS

REF: TAIPEI 0058, TAIPEI 0061, TAIPEI 0063, TAIPEI 0065,
TAIPEI 0075

1. Summary: (SBU) Taiwan's ever-developing democracy is proving
lucrative as the media cash in on the elections. Political parties
spent heavily on television commercials and campaign advertisements
in the run-up to the January 12 legislative election. Despite their
political bias in day-to-day news coverage, when it comes to
business, Taiwan media ran all the campaign ads they could get and
even offered special packages to try to attract more campaign ads
from political parties. A review of election ads for the final
three campaign days revealed that major parties placed most of their
campaign ads in the media outlets they believed would attract the
most voters, including those that normally portray them unfavorably.
This campaign ad strategy is further evidence of how far down the
multi-party democracy road Taiwan has traveled. End summary.

2. (SBU) Though the accusation that most Taiwan media slant "blue"
(pro KMT) or "green" (pro DPP) is often borne out in their one-sided
news reports, editorials and talk shows, the placement of campaign
ads leading up to January 12 Legislative Yuan (LY) elections showed
that media from both sides gladly accepted money to run the other
side's ads. The KMT, the DPP and a host of smaller parties were
willing to take their chances in running ads in media not
customarily supportive of their parties. It is yet another
milestone in Taiwan's development as a democracy.

3. (U) In the three days leading up to the Jan. 12 LY election, the
KMT placed more campaign commercials on TV than the DPP. However,
the DPP government also ran many TV and newspaper ads in the name of
the Government Information Office (GIO) and the Central Election
Commission (CEC) to promote (DPP) government achievements and to
boost turnout for (DPP-sponsored) referenda.

---------------------------
TV: BLUE ON GREEN; GREEN ON BLUE
---------------------------

4. (U) A representative sample of TV ads: From 6:00 p.m. to 11:00
p.m. on Jan. 9, the KMT ran campaign ads soliciting party votes 31
times on four TV news channels, while the DPP ran ads 23 times. The
GIO and the CEC ran TV ads 12 times.

5. (U) Interestingly, during this time period, the KMT ran more
campaign ads (nine) than the DPP (four) on "green" Sanlih TV. The
reverse was equally interesting: the DPP ran eight ads to the KMT's
six on "blue" CTI TV in the same time period.

6. (U) The parties took different tacks in their ads. The KMT's TV
campaign ads featured anguished voices from various walks of life,
especially from working class voters. They roundly criticized
President Chen Shui-bian and his family, and the government's poor
economic performance, urging voters to use their ballots to punish
the DPP. The KMT also heavily ran one ad in which KMT Chairman Wu
Po-hsiung reminded blue supporters of the KMT's failure in the last
election and the importance of solidarity.

7. (U) The DPP's campaign ads appealed to that party's historical
contribution to Taiwan's democracy, condemning the KMT for
obstreperousness in the LY and impugning the party for its
"ill-gotten" assets.

8. (U) The Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU), once considered part of
the green camp, expressed the party's concern for minority groups
and stressed the importance of having a third force in addition to
the KMT and the DPP. TSU ads featured its leader, former President
Lee Teng-hui, denouncing the DPP, despite the erstwhile DPP-TSU
alliance. During the sample period AIT monitored, the TSU ran TV
ads 20 times, canvassing party votes. Their advertising efforts
appeared in vain - the party failed to pick up a single seat in the
LY.

-------------------------
PRINT PRESS: APPLE "WINS" IN THE ELECTION
-------------------------

9. (U) In the print press, the Apple Daily (circulation 500,000,
second-largest in Taiwan) received the most campaign ads among the

TAIPEI 00000093 002 OF 002


four major island-wide Chinese-language dailies, thanks to the
tabloid's neutral political position and its strong appeal to young
readers, a major swing constituency with a spotty voting record.
One creatively placed ad in the Jan. 10 edition showed an irate Ma
Ying-jeou accusing President Chen of poor leadership. This
full-page page 3 ad faced a full-page page 2 exclusive interview
with President Chen.

10. (U) The pro-independence, "green" Liberty Times (circulation
720,000), though Taiwan's top-circulation newspaper, attracted fewer
campaign ads than Apple Daily, and the KMT ran only one token
advertisement in it during the three days before the elections.

11. (U) The two "blue" newspapers - United Daily News and China
Times - carried more ads for the KMT than for other parties, but DPP
candidates still purchased ads in significant numbers in these two
publications.

12. (U) Meanwhile, smaller parties such as the New Party, the Home
Party, the Constitutional Alliance, Third Society Party and Taiwan
Farmers' Party, all ran TV campaign ads on major TV channels and
newspapers, including CTI, TVBS, SET, Apple Daily, United Daily
News, China Times and Liberty Times, hoping to capture
legislator-at-large seats. Their advertising efforts were all in
vain. The Non-Partisan Solidarity Union (not even technically a
party) was the only small political organization to run ads and
actually win seats (three).

------------------------------
KMT SPENDS BIG; WINS BIG
------------------------------

13. (U) Both the KMT and the DPP accused each other of excessive
spending on campaign ads while refusing to disclose their own
budgets to the public. "Economic Daily News" reported on January 6
that the DPP would spend a total of NT 60 million ($1.82 million) in
campaign ads in the course of the 2008 LY and presidential
elections. Other news reports quoted a KMT spokesman as saying the
KMT's budget for campaign ads totaled about NT 10 million ($300,000)
for the legislative election. Singapore's "Lianhe Zaobao" estimated
the two parties combined spent at least NT 100 million ($3 million)
on advertisements during the legislative elections.

14. (SBU) Political party campaign ads paid off most handsomely for
the KMT, which scored a landslide victory (reftels). KMT
spokeswoman Chen Shu-rong told AIT/PAS that the KMT placed campaign
ads in all media, both blue and green, "to get support from as many
voters as possible." Whether the media were blue or green "were not
issues." The KMT spent a considerable amount of money on
commercials on "green" TV stations, she explained, in order to
attract swing voters. Chen said the KMT's campaign ads (read:
income from ads) were welcomed by TV stations and, even more, by
Taiwan's chronically impecunious newspapers. Chen acknowledged that
the KMT paid three TV stations -- TVBS, CTI and China Television
(CTV) -- to broadcast three KMT rallies live.

15. (SBU) Meanwhile, Hsieh I-chun, Deputy Director of DPP's Culture
and Information Department, told AIT/PAS the KMT's TV ads greatly
outnumbered the DPP's because the DPP is underfinanced. He said
that the DPP placed TV campaign ads on all major TV channels while
concentrating on specific channels to run ads intensively on the
final day. TV stations also offered "discount packages" to
political parties, but Hsieh refused to reveal the price of running
a TV campaign ad.

16. (U) AIT monitored the following media, Jan. 9-11, for this
report. Their customary news biases are in parentheses:

TVBS -- popular cable news channel (Blue)
CTI Television -- pro-KMT cable news channel (Blue)
Sanlih Television -- popular pro-Taiwan news channel (Green)
Formosa Television -- pro-DPP news channel (Green)
Liberty Times -- pro-independence daily (Green)
Apple Daily -- popular tabloid-style daily (Neutral)
United Daily News -- pro-unification daily (Blue)
China Times -- pro-KMT daily (Blue)

YOUNG

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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