Accompanied by former Minister of National Defense Michael Tsai and Chung-Hsi Lee, associate professor at Taipei Medical University’s Graduate Institute of Health and Biotechnology Law, Professor Glenn Smith of California Western School of Law visited the National Communications Commission (NCC) on the morning of June 1, 2017. The party was received by commissioners Yaw-Shyang Chen and Chen-Ling Hung on behalf of the commission to exchange opinions on issues regarding freedom of speech, supervision of radio and television media, and controversial information on the Internet.
The meeting began with an introduction of the NCC, an independent authority founded to ensure freedom of speech and to objectively and professionally manage and oversee Taiwan’s communications and broadcast industries as well as protect media independence through a collegial system. Professor Smith, an expert in constitutional and administrative law, shared with us his views on American legal practices. Professor Smith noted that protecting freedom of speech is also the Federal Communications Commission’s first priority, and that the commission supervises communications content using a soft regulatory approach, employing minimum measures such as soft persuasion or referring to the courts for a ruling, except in cases involving a clear and present danger such as threats to national security or defamation.
In response to Commissioner Hung’s questions about the controversy over freedom of speech and national security arising from fake online news reports during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Professor Smith responded that the U.S. generally considers ensuring the right to freedom of speech to be its first priority, but he emphasized that it is not true that controversial information online is entirely unregulated. For example, technology firms such as Google and Facebook have developed tools to establish a mechanism to verify online information due to pressure from the market economy and the public.
When our guests inquired about how radio and television contents are supervised in Taiwan, the NCC responded that freedom of speech is the foundation of a democratic society, and since supervision of radio and television content involves making a diverse range of value judgements, the NCC convenes television program advertising consultative conferences involving professionals and scholars from different fields, NGOs, and members of the media to discuss whether selected content is inappropriate, with the goal of eliciting viewpoints from these different sectors of society and canvassing their opinions as important references for the conference committee’s deliberations.
This exchange helped both parties gain a greater understanding of media supervision in the U.S. and in Taiwan. At the end of the meeting, Mr. Chen presented a souvenir to our guest on behalf of the NCC and expressed a wish for future cooperative exchanges.
NCC commissioner Yaw-Shyang Chen (right), Professor Glenn Smith of California Western School of Law (center), former Minister of National Defense Michael Tsai (second left), and Chung-Hsi Lee, associate professor at the Graduate Institute of Health and Biotechnology Law of Taipei Medical University (left), discussed freedom of speech, supervision of radio and television media, and controversial information on the Internet.
Commissioner Yaw-Shyang Chen presented a souvenir to Professor Smith at the end of the meeting. From the left: Commissioners Chen-Ling Hung and Yaw-Shyang Chen, Professor Smith, former Minister of National Defense Michael Tsai, and Associate Professor Chung-Hsi Lee.
Commissioner Yaw-Shyang Chen received a gift from Professor Smith at the end of the meeting.