Court ruling overturns NCC decision to shut down Cti News
Taipei, May 10 (CNA) The Taipei High Administrative Court on Wednesday ruled in favor of Chung Tien Television (CTiTV) in a lawsuit against the country's broadcasting regulator for shutting down its cable news channel in 2020.
In its ruling, the court overturned the National Communications Commission (NCC) decision on Nov. 18, 2020 not to renew the broadcast license of CTi News, citing "repeated violations of regulations" and "a failure of its internal discipline and control mechanisms."
The decision led to the shutdown of CTi News on Dec. 12 that year, after its existing broadcast license expired.
In a press release, the administrative court said the NCC should have reviewed CTi News' license renewal application, which was submitted on June 8, 2020, using criteria adopted in February 2018.
However, the court said, the NCC rejected the application based on new criteria it approved about a week prior, thus violating the Examination Regulations for the License Renewal of Satellite Broadcasting and Foreign Satellite Broadcasting Businesses.
While the 2018 and the 2020 criteria are both designed to allow the NCC to gauge a broadcaster's past performance and its operational plan for the next six years, they differ in terms of their assessment standards, according to the court.
The court added that the NCC's decision was thus "illegal" as it was based on "incorrect" criteria.
In the ruling, however, the court dismissed CTiTV's request that the NCC should approve CTi News' license renewal application, saying instead the regulator must review the case again based on the 2018 criteria.
In addition, the court denied damages of approximately NT$7.95 billion (US$256.61 million) with additional interest sought by CTiTV.
CTiTV filed the case with the court on Dec. 1, 2020 and sought an injunction to allow for the continued operation of CTi News and prevent the NCC from allocating channel 52 of the cable TV network used by CTi News to another company during the lawsuit.
However, the Supreme Administrative Court on Dec. 11, 2020 made a final judgement rejecting CTiTV's request for an injunction.
Since ceasing operations as a cable news channel, CTi News has continued to air news programs through its YouTube channel.
In a statement on Wednesday evening, CTi News said Wednesday's ruling "upholds freedom of the press and fundamental values enshrined in the Constitution," while applauding the administrative court for "setting an example of democracy and the rule of law in Taiwan."
The NCC said in a separate press release the ruling was "regrettable" and that it plans to appeal.
The NCC criticized the administrative court for failing to "respect the professional judgement" it made in line with the Satellite Broadcasting Act.
According to the NCC, the Act requires that broadcast licenses be renewed every six years, thus providing the government with a mechanism to "protect freedom of the press, journalistic ethics and the public interest."
CTiTV is affiliated to Want Want China Times Media Group, which also includes China Times and Commercial Times newspapers, as well as China Television Co. (CTV).
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