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Cablegate: Underground Radio Stations

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

310402Z Aug 05

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TAIPEI 003612

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

DEPT PASS AIT/WASHINGTON

DEPT FOR EAP/RSP/TC, INR/EAP, EAP/PD

FROM AIT KAOHSIUNG BRANCH OFFICE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KMDR TW
SUBJECT: Underground Radio Stations


1. Summary. In October 2004, the Taiwan Government
Information Office announced that a new radio frequency
reallocation policy would come into effect to legalize
underground radio stations. Although the policy has been in
effect for almost a year, underground radio stations that
applied for a broadcasting license have not seen any change
in their legal status. Because many underground radio
stations are partial to certain political parties, an AIT
contact attributes the lack of change to the desire of the
new director of the Government Information Office, Yao Wen-
chi, not to interfere with the year-end elections. The
reallocation policy is, however, expected to move forward
after the elections have taken place. End Summary.

2. A little more than a year ago, the Taiwan Government
Information Office announced plans for a new radio frequency
reallocation policy. This policy would enable some 200
underground radio stations in Taiwan to apply for licenses
to become legalized. Only about one-third of all underground
radio stations took advantage of the policy, whereas two-
thirds of the stations chose to remain underground. Free
from any governmental regulations, it is more advantageous
for the stations to remain underground. The advantages
include: freedom of broadcast content, no limitations on the
amount or type of advertising, and no need to pay royalties
or fees for songs broadcast. Neither legal nor underground
radio stations need to pay taxes.

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3. AIT/K discussed the new radio frequency policy with Boss
Radio Station Manager Huang Dong-rong. Boss Radio Station,
which originated in Kaohsiung as an underground radio
station, received its license six years ago. Huang
explained to AIT/K that the new policy would not eradicate
underground radio stations in Taiwan because stations are
able to occupy any frequency available. Huang said legal
radio stations would face more competition from newly
legalized players in the business. According to Huang,
legal radio stations rely heavily on income from
advertising, organizing public events for government
agencies, and selling time slots. Huang bemoaned that legal
radio stations do not receive financial support from
government authorities. Further, to be eligible to renew
broadcasting licenses, the government forces legal radio
stations to abide by regulations and requires them to
produce programs that advocate government policies.

4. Huang also complained about the lack of law enforcement
on underground radio stations. He stated that underground
radio stations had collaborated with corrupt government
officials to ensure protection for their businesses. Huang
also pointed out that some are owned by organized crime
syndicates. He had received threats from gangsters after he
filed complaints about underground radio stations.

5. Comment. Introduction of the October 2004 policy was
widely seen as a reward for the pro-green underground radio
stations for their continuous broadcast of the March 19,
2004, shooting of then presidential candidate and current
President Chen Shui-bian right before the election, which
aroused voters' sympathy. However, the reward has not yet
panned out as the path towards receiving a license to
broadcast has not become easier for either pro-KMT nor pro-
DPP underground radio stations. The former director of the
Government Information Office, Lin Chia-long, who initiated
the policy in 2004, resigned to concentrate on his campaign
in the Taichung mayoral election and has since been replaced
with a new director, Yao Wen-chi. Boss Radio Station Manager
Huang Dong-rong indicated that the new director may have
halted the issuing of licenses in order to prevent the
policy from interfering with the 2005 elections, which will
take place at the end of the year. After the election takes
place, the policy should take effect.

(Prepared by AIT/K Intern Cindy Chou)

End comment.

Thiele

Paal

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