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153 M E D I A R E F O R M S T R AT E G Y This chapter discusses how media reform groups in Taiwan and the Media Watch Foundation and the Campaign for Media Reform in particular worked together to engage in media reform movements ranging from the promotion of public media to the campaign against big media mergers. The strategies they utilized are context-sensitive and mostly effective in terms of raising public awareness, setting public agendas and having an impact upon government decisions and policies concerning media freedom and media democratization. These strategies include, among others, engaging in public debates, lobbying the legislature, and, where necessary, mobilizing public support in both online and offline protests. However, these strategies have limitations too. Most of all, the mainstream media were usually hostile to media reform movements and the government was passive in its response to the cause of media reform. To overcome this extremely difficult situation , media activists in Taiwan have taken advantage of new media and social media to pursue their media reform goals and have increasingly engaged in creating more diverse information alternatives to the mainstream media. In recent years, Taiwan has been ranked as one of the top countries in terms of press freedom in Asia (Freedom House 2014). This is remarkable given that the country was still ruled by an authoritarian, one-party regime less than three decades ago. Until 1987, the martial law, which aimed to suppress the Communists in mainland China, was finally lifted and the press liberalized (AP CHAPTER TWELVE Media Reform Movements in Taiwan hsin-yi sandy tsai, National Chiao Tung University, Taiwan shih-hung lo, National Chung Cheng University, Taiwan 18798-Freedman_Strategies.indd 153 18798-Freedman_Strategies.indd 153 5/23/16 1:27 PM 5/23/16 1:27 PM 154 hsin-yi sandy tsai and shih-hung lo 1987). Taiwanese citizens were allowed to form different political parties. The political transition of democratization in the late 1980s put an end to the world’s longest period of rule under martial law (thirty-eight consecutive years) and the longstanding bans on organizing political parties and publishing new newspapers. From then onward, three waves of media reform movements aimed at media democratization started apace. Each wave of media reform pursued the same goals but utilized somewhat different strategies. Over the last few decades, the interests of the ruling party usually commanded civil society; the party opinions and interests usurped the public ones. Therefore, the first wave of media reform movements in Taiwan called for media privatization and liberalization because the government maintained its monopoly over terrestrial television right up to 1997, when the first privately owned terrestrial television station was launched in Taiwan. Yet, another eight years would pass before the government was forced to finally give up its ownership of the other three terrestrial television stations. However, the media privatization and liberalization that ran riot in the 1990s also caused new problems. Private media in pursuit of commercial interests could not manage the responsibility of handling the public service and the public sphere. The big media consolidation, thanks to a series of mergers, had resulted in “market-driven journalism” (McManus 1994) or even “audience ratings journalism” (Lin 2009). The second wave of movements for media reform in Taiwan thus strived to campaign against big media and irresponsible journalism prevailed in the market. Since the late 1990s, established by nonpartisan media activists, the Media Watch Foundation has done a great deal to promote media literacy education and fight media commercialism . The third wave of media reform movements has entered new terrain. Since 2003, media activists and media scholars have formed the Campaign for Media Reform with the intent to pursue new goals. This new movement seeks to expand public media that correspond more closely to the ideal of public service broadcasting in terms of quality, universality, independence, and diversity and strengthen alternative, independent citizen media. In this chapter, we focus on how media reform groups in Taiwan engaged in the aforementioned media reform movements and the strategies utilized by these groups. We begin by providing a brief account of media history and the changing media landscape in Taiwan. Next, we discuss the media reform movements in Taiwan and the strategies media reform activists utilized respectively in the campaign for the expansion of public media and the campaign against big media mergers. We also examine the increasing relevance of the alternative, independent citizen media...


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MARC Record
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