Jimmy Lai's Next fined by Taiwan

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 November, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 27 November, 2009, 12:00am
 

The Taiwanese government has slapped a NT$500,000 (HK$120,000) fine on Hong Kong-owned Next Media for posting obscene animation on a newly launched news service delivered over the internet and on mobile phones.

The publisher of Apple Daily started the trial service, which delivers computer-animated reconstructions of real-life violent incidents, on Monday and has received a number of complaints from press watchdogs and rights groups.

Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-ping said Next Media, chaired by Hong Kong media mogul Jimmy Lai Chee-ying, had violated the children and youth welfare law and that the city government had decided to impose the most severe penalty possible for failing to observe the rating system for news media content.

He said the service's explicit content was improper and harmful to young people and the media group could be fined again if it continued to violate regulations.

More than a dozen press watchdogs as well as women and youth rights groups protested in front of Apple Daily's office building in Taipei. Some protesters carried banners saying 'No to motion graphics news'.

In a joint statement, the groups said the online service sensationalised criminal cases, and would further hurt the victims. It also noted the content was mostly a grisly portrayal of sexual assaults, murders and domestic violence incidents.

'This is not conducive to the protection of victims, and in fact, it would hurt them for the second time,' said Kang Shu-hua, executive director of Taiwan Women's Rescue Foundation.

The Executive Yuan also issued a statement saying the government would prosecute web operators that breach youth welfare and telecommunications laws. The government could close down a service if the offence was serious, it warned.

National Communications Commission chairwoman Bonnie Peng said she would not accept Next Media 'testing the bottom line'.

Apple Daily Taiwan yesterday issued an apology, saying it had stopped broadcasting the service.

The service was also available on Apple Daily's Hong Kong website.

Professor Leung Tin-wai, head of journalism at Shue Yan University, said news portrayed in animated form was going in the wrong direction. 'Animated news tells a story through lots of imagination. It is getting away from the truth,' he said.

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