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A Comparison and Analysis of Taiwan's and Singapore's Media System

-Introduction to Four Theories of the Press

We will use the Four Theories of Press to explain the different media systems. The four theories are: The Authoritarian Theory, The Libertarian Theory, Soviet-Communist Theory, and Social-Responsibility Theory.

Soviet-Communist Theory The Soviet-Communist Theory originated from the Soviet Union from Marxist, Leninist, and Stalinist thoughts after the 17th century. Under the Soviet-Communist Theory, the state owns or in some way controls all forms of mass media directly. The medias authority falls in the hands of a small group of party leaders. The role of the media in countries applying the Soviet-Communist Theory is to act as an instrument of the ruling party to unite people of the state, and to carry out plans of the party and state, bringing about societal change.

Also under the Soviet-Communist system, the media reports less on the bad things that happen under communism, and emphasizes the bad things that happen in democratic areas (David McHams Communication Law Center, undated). For example, when the Russians media was still under the Soviet-Communist system, the official communist paper Pravda portrayed the ideology that Communist is good by praising Stalins non-aggression pact with Hitler, and avoided reporting about the Chernobyl disaster as it may raise concerns about the safety of Soviet nuclear plant. Pravda reported about the incident only two days later after constant urging from Sweden. (Tiffany Gabbay, 2012)

Technically, currently, no countrys media is fully under the Soviet-Communist system. However, certain countries media possess characteristics of a Soviet-Communist media system. One example is the North Korean media. The North Korean media is very much- if not, entirely, controlled by the government. For a really long time, there were no independent journalists in North Korea, radio and television receivers are locked to government-specified frequencies. The media also covers up on the negative things that happen under the communist leadership, not revealing the dangers and hardships North Koreans faced. For example, the government suppressed news of a famine that affected millions of people (Committee to Protect Journalists, 2006). However, North Korea has shown signs of opening-up in recent years, and its media is used more to maintain societal status quo instead of bringing about changes and hence, North Koreans media is currently leaning further towards an Authoritarian media system.

The Authoritarian Theory Authoritarian theory is developed in the 16th and 17th century in England. The Authoritarian Theory is operationalized as strict control of content by the state and a general lack of freedom for the public to criticize state policies (Jennifer Ostini, undated). Under an Authoritarian media system, ownership of the media can be either public or private. Ownership of printing medias are mostly private, while broadcast and cinemas usually remain in the hands of the government.

The Authoritarian Theory describes the situation where states view the mass media as an instrument at all ties. The role of the media is to mainly educate citizens, and acts as a propaganda tool for the ruling party.

The main difference between the Authoritarian theory and the Soviet-Communist Theory is that while the former allows both private and public media ownership, the latter allows strictly only public media ownership. Another difference is that while the Authoritarian medias are mainly use to maintain societal status quo, a Soviet-Communist media is often used to bring about societal changes. (Krishnammurthy Sriramesh, undated)

In the past, the Burmese media has been under an Authoritarian system. Until 2011, the Burmese media has always portrayed itself as supportive of the countrys previous military junta. News reports gushed over generals, attacked foreign media, and remain uncritical of its military leadership. Journalists who wrote reports that threatened the ruling party were imprisoned. Stiff censorship regulations were in place as well, and only state-controlled newspapers, usually propaganda-filled, are allowed to publish daily. Privately run news publications published weekly rather than daily due to Myanmars stifling censorship requirements (Committee to Protect Journalists, 2006). However, recently, with the uprise of democracy in Myanmar and transition to a civilian government, the burmese media has been walking away from its extreme authoritarian approach, releasing imprisoned journalists. From June 2011, half of Myanmars privately owned publications were allowed to published without submitting page proofs to censors in advance. Also, the government will allow private daily newspapers from April next year (Aung Hla Tun, 2012).

Other countries whose media are practicing the Authoritarian Theory include: North Korea, China, Iran, and Saudi Arabia

2-Introduction to Four Theories of Press II

Libertarian Theory The Libertarian Theory originally came from liberal thought in Europe from the 16th Century. The Libertarian Theory describes societies that provide media with unrestrained freedom, especially from government control, so that they are free to report a variety of views (Krishnammurthy Sriramesh, undated). There is no control or censorship. Under a libertarian media system, ownership of media is mainly private.

Under the Libertarian Theory, the medias purpose is to inform, entertain, sell, and serve as a watchdog, keeping the government in check. Libertarian Theory involves some innate distrust of the role of the government and the state (Jennifer Ostini, undated), and a belief that everybody has rights to information. The theory also sees people as rational enough to decide what is good or bad and hence the press should not restrict anything. Even negative contents may provide audiences with knowledge. Libertarian thoughts are exactly the opposite of the Authoritarian Theory.

An example of a country whose media system applies the Libertarian Theory would be Finland. In 2011, the finnish press was ranked as freest in the world according to Freedom House, an organisation promoting freedom around the world. Freedom of expression and access to information is guaranteed under Article 12 of the constitution. Every citizen has the rights to reply and to have falsely published information corrected. Threats against journalists are rare, unlike those working under Soviet-Communist or Authoritarian media systems. Also, the internet is open and unrestricted, with around 89.4 percent of citizens having regular access in 2011 (Freedom House, 2012).

Other countries whose media apply the Libertarian Theory include: The Netherlands, and to a lesser extent, Hungary.

The Netherlands


Social-Responsibility Theory Social Responsibility theory is an outgrowth of the Libertarian Theory. However, the SocialResponsibility Theory does not assume that anyone can use the media to publish anything like the Libertarian Theory. Instead, this theory requires the media to adhere to professional

standards and codes of conduct when exercising their editorial freedom. Under the SocialResponsibility Theory, ownership of media is mostly private and practice self-regulation according to standards, codes and guiding principles. The media is relatively free of arbitrary government controls.

Under a Social-Responsible media system, the role of the media is to serve the public, and in order to do so, should remain free of government interference. The idea of this theory is that the media has a moral obligation to provide adequate information for citizens to make informed decisions (Jennifer Ostini, undated). However, the different media can retain a liberal notion of healthy public disclosure. The media is also expected to represent the diversity of cultures they represent, and should have high standards for professionalism, truth, and accuracy.

One example of a country that practices the Social-Responsibility Theory is the United States of America. The USA has a Bill of Rights that states that the Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech, or the press. (Lorne W. Craner, 2008). This bill entitles the media to freedom and at the same time, put across a trust the congress has for the media to be responsible for its freedom. Such trust encourages the media to be responsible for the information it publishes.

Countries who has a Social-Responsible media system include: France, Germany, and Japan.




3-Singapores Media System

We believe that Singapores media leans towards a Social-Responsible media system.

In Singapore, there are two media companies Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) and MediaCorp. They dominate local print and broadcast media. Both of them are touted as privately owned entities even though their management are linked to the government and tend to hold a pro-governemnet stance.They keep strict control of the editorial line of their newspapers, television and radio stations. Foreign publications, cable TV, BBC radio, a range of Internet sites, magazines and books, and political parties newsletter s make up the remaining media.

The Media Development Authority (MDA) approves publications, issues arts entertainment licences and enforces the Free-to-air (FTA) TV Programme Code, Subscription TV Programme Code, TV Advertising Code, Radio Programme Code and the Radio Advertising Code through financial penalties.

The following factors account for why Singapores media is under the Social-Responsibility theory.

Political Media ownership and the regulatory environment define the way the media operates in Singapore. Political, regulatory and structural control over the local media restricts and discourages the development of an environment where views can be expressed freely. Selfcensorship can be observed, created and enforced through the suspension of offending publications, or the threat of such action.

The area that is most watched by the government is the media space that allows opposition parties, civil society opponents and foreign journalists to comment on local issues. Censorship of political expression is achieved through a mixture of ownership, legislation, defamation suits, harassment and self- censorship on the part of the media.

Media ownership in Singapore is carefully regulated and media content strictly monitored. Until 2000, Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) owned all dailies in the city-State after the government successfully managed to tame the press. Francis Seow, in his book The Media Enthralled: Singapore Revisited, records how private and family owned newspapers were run to the ground by Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, in his fervour to control the domestic press. Media owners and journalists, both local and foreign, were on different occasions threatened, arrested, and detained without trial and deported. However, in recent years, government control on the media has been reduced, and media companies are given even more freedom.

Mediacorp, a company that was created following the amalgamation of several governmentowned broadcast corporations, currently dominates the broadcasting media. Foreign broadcasters operate for commercial and public relations reasons. However, there is still a bit of government-restriction through acts and regulations in an effort to prevent them from commenting on sensitive issues such as politics.

Most Singaporeans expect the media to play a role in getting rid of social media, educating people, evaluating government policies, and exposing the wrong doings of others.

With the different regulations, Singapores media have to be responsible for what they are going to air. The media has full freedom on one hand but have external controls on the other hand. They have to be social responsible, because if they do not carry out self-censorship to filter sensitive articles, the government will have to take over. Overall, media freedom is granted to a certain extent, but if regulations are not followed, the government will step in.

Singapore Population Singapore has a population of 5.18 million at the end of June 2011. Singapore is a multicultural country with a majority of Chinese (74%), substantial Malays (13%) and a minorities of India (9.2%) and the rest are Eurasian . Singapores first religion is Mahayana Buddhism though its not the majority, with significant number following Islan, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism or even no religion at all. There are 4 official languages in Singapore, Mandarin, Malay, Tamil and English, but English is the main working language and is the mandatory first language in Singapore. With many different ethnic groups, religions and cultures in Singapore, the media must be sensitive enough not to threaten the vulnerable harmony and national security. Singapore media have to be socially responsible because citizens should not be influenced by the media to be against other ethnic or religious groups. It is of paramount importance that Singapore does not see a repeat of the 1964 race riots or the Maria Hertogh riots which started due to certain reports being biased towards a certain race and religion.

When people are of different ethnic groups, their values and acceptance of discussion of various topics differ. Therefore Singapores Media have to self -censor to ensure that the viewpoints that are publish do not offend certain groups of people.

Singaporeans are given channels to express their views about the media and any other topics, like forums under The NewPaper and discussions under Channel NewsAsia. However, airing or publishing, posts will go under screening to check if it is too sensitive or offensive to be aired out. Singapores media concern all class audience, and hence, they have a responsibility in maintaining peace and harmony in the country.

-Taiwans Media System

We believe that Taiwans media lean towards the Libertarian media system, but it is not entirely libertarian and also possesses characteristics of a Social-Responsible media system.

The following factors justify our perception of Taiwan media system being Libertarian:

1. Political scene (Corruption) In Taiwan politics, there are two different major parties. These parties are the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT, Blue)and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP, Green). In Taiwan, the media companies will usually take a stand in the political parties side. Even though they do not state it, the political news article that were reported by them will reflect their stand.

The role of the media in the libertarian system is to check on the government. Hence with the media taking different sides in the political aspect, they are driven to take note of its opposition parties actions. One example will be the Chen Shui-Bian corruption incident.

However, one driving factor for Taiwans media to check on the government is the history of corruption among the government officials. According to the Transparency Internationals (TI) corruption Perception Index 2012, Taiwan was ranked 37th out of 176 nations and regions. (Transparency International, 2012) Hence, Taiwan was the third-highest in the East Asia. (Taipei Times, 2012)

Taiwan was also ranked 19 out of 28 in the Bribe Payers Index, where the lower the rank, the more bribery the country is involved in (Transparency International, 2011). Being ranked 19th implies that Taiwan is heavily involved in bribery. A top official in Taiwan, Lin Yi-Shih, even admitted to accepting bribe from a wealthy businessman in 2012. Some Taiwanese government officials also bribe the judiciary and high court judges to get off from charges. Therefore, the Taiwanese Media took up the role of helping people of Taiwan uncover the truth of these corruption cases. As such cases also undermined the trustworthiness of the government, Taiwanese also begin to look to the Media for an alternate and sometimes even more accurate source of information.

2. History and Culture

Historically, Taiwan is led by the Kuomintang (KMT), or the Chinese Nationalist Party, which believed in anti-communism, and implemented democracy in Taiwan.

The KMT was extremely against communism, and this resistance to communism was further blown when the KMT had to retreat to Taiwan after losing the civil war against the Communists in China. The KMT had also been closely associated with the West in terms of its idealogical inclination, security alliance and economic partnership (Yu-han Chu, 2011). Western culture influence could have led to Taiwans strong belief in human rights and freedom of expression. Hence, its media tend to be libertarian and holds lots of press freedom, without much interference from the government. Anti-communist ideologies could also have led to Taiwans media functioning on the extreme opposite end compared to a Soviet-Communist media system. While under a Soviet-Communist media system, the media is used as a propaganda tool for the ruling party, under Taiwans more liberal media system, the medias primary aim is to serve its people and act as watchdogs to check on the government. The Taiwans media investigates on corruption issues in the government. According to Freedom House, the Taiwanese media reflect a diversity of views and report aggressively on government policies and corruption allegations.

3. Population

The population in Taiwan was estimated at 23,268,087 in July 2012, making it the sixteen most populated country in the world. According to governmental statistic, 96% of Taiwans population is made up of Han Chinese, while only a 2% of the population are Taiwanese aborigines(). Half of Taiwans population are one or mixture of 25 recognized religions, around 93% of the religious population are followers of a mixture of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism, while minority of 4.5% are followers of Christianity.

The official language in Taiwan is Mandarin, although a majority also speak Taiwanese dialect of Min Nan (a Southern Fujian language) and Hakka().

Unlike Singapore which has a good mix of different ethnic groups (mainly Chinese, Eurasian, Indian and Malay) and religions, and has to make sure that the media is sensitive enough not to threaten the vulnerable harmony and national security, Taiwans media is able to be more liberal because most of its citizens are of similar ethnic groups and religions. When people are of similar ethnic groups and religions, their values and their degree of acceptance regarding various topics tend to be similar. Hence, Taiwanese media can afford more freedom of speech in their news without having to worry too much that a large group of people may be against that particular view, or that a case of slight insensitivity can disrupt national security.

5-Development of Taiwans Media System

Taiwans efforts in creating a Libertarian Media System According to Freedom House, an organisation promoting human rights, Taiwans media environment is one of the freest in Asia. The constitution also provides freedom of the press, and the government and independent courts generally respect these rights. Print media are free of state control, and broadcast media do not have to go through licensing or reviews by the Government Information Office (GIO). Taiwans legislation approved in 2003 banned the the government or officials from holding any positions in broadcast media companies, and required government entities and political parties to divest themselves of all broadcasting assets, thus ensuring that the media holds complete freedom without interference. The government also do not restrict the internet.

The media acts as a public watchdog to check on the government, and media coverage is often critical of the government, though often politically polarized, mostly dedicated to either one of the two major political parties, the Kuomintang (KMT) or the Democratic Progressive Parties (DPP). For example, the United Daily newspaper is pro-KMT, while the Liberty Times is pro-DPP. The Liberty Times publishes reports accusing the KMT government of being corrupt, while the United Daily publish reports portraying a negative image of the DPP.

Ownership in Taiwans media system is also generally private. In Taiwan, there are over 360 privately owned newspapers and numerous radio stations. There are state-owned medias in Taiwan too, such as Radio Taiwan International, but generally, the media scene is still largely made up of private companies. Physical violence against journalists in Taiwan is also rare, and they are able to cover news freely (Freedom House, 2012).

Though there have been signs of Taiwans government having slowly-increasing control of its media though public relations means, with positive coverage being purchased by government entities (Freedom House, 2011), Taiwans media is still generally liberal. President Ma Ying-jeou also claimed that the governments policy was to maintain an open environment for the media. The media will not become just the instrument of one voice but instead, represent the community (Taiwan News, 2012). Reporters Without Borders (RSF) also confirmed that Taiwans press freedom is not in danger (Amber Wang, 2009).

Taiwan Medias Social-Responsible Areas The Taiwans media also do have characteristics of a Social-Responsible media system. Taiwans media practices self-censorship, especially regarding sensitive issues, such as their relationship with China, especially now that Taiwan is cementing ties with China. Chuang Feng-Chia, senior editor at the independent website and a past president

of the Association of Taiwan Journalists said that Nearly all the Taiwanese media practice self-censorship in reporting about China.

Taiwan Media also follow acts and regulations set by Taiwans National Communications Commission (NCC). When issues arises, the NCC may take action to ensure that media freedom is not misused. For Example, in 2010, the NCC fined cable channels Azio TV, CTi Variety, and JET between NT$1 million to NT$2 Million for violating food and health regulations and commercializing their programmes when they exaggerated the benefits of food products introduced. This violated the Act Governing Food Sanitation (The China Post, 2011).

Other than cross-strait relationship, Taiwans self-censorship also focuses on slander. Taiwanese media avoid defamation in their publications, as publication of defamatory words or pictures can be punished by a maximum of two years in prison. For example, a Taiwanese food blogger was sentenced to 30 days in jaid and fined NT $200, 000 because she unfairly criticised a restaurant, and even referred to the shop owner as a bully (Erin De Santiago, 2011).

Publication of defamatory words or pictures can be punished by a maximum of two years in prison. In another case, a blogger in Taichung City was sentenced to two years probation and ordered to pay NT$200,000 (US$7,000) in compensation for defamation after she wrote a negative review of a restaurant.

Our Judgement Despite Taiwanese medias Self-Responsible traits, we feel that the Taiwanese media is still Libertarian. Even though Taiwans media practices self-censorship, it is still up to media practitioners whether they would like to publish certain things. It is only ethical and humane to consider consequences before making decisions, so that does not really make Taiwans media any less liberal. Furthermore, there is no media system which is entirely Libertarian. Finlands media is considered one of the most liberal in the world by Freedom House and yet, it also has laws against defamation and regulations against child pornography too, much like Taiwan. These regulations do not have much impact on the degree of liberation that the media of the different countries get. Instead they reinforce the need to be ethical while having freedom, so that security of the nation and welfare of the people will not be threatened. The media is a potent tool for societal destruction and hence, no matter how liberal a countries media is, it should still be carefully managed. This careful management will not threaten the freedom the media has.

6-Case Studies

We will be comparing between the media system in Taiwan and Singapore.

Looking at materials from news and articles on the internet, we cover these three key aspects in terms of the differences in Taiwan and Singapore media system.

We cover the differences in the titles and contents of their soft news, as well as the way Singapore and Taiwan media present news respectively.