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Sunday, October 31, 2004 

Underground Radio Channels in Taiwan

Despite incomphrehensible Putonghua spoken by some program hosts, the second and final part of the Internet Politics Activists in Taiwan Talkshow series jointly produced by WM6471, Hi-Radio and PRHK.org was a very interesting show.

HUANG Shuan Quan (黃孫權) founder of popular independent weekly POTS magazine, a freely weekly with a circulation of 80,000 (China Times, the top newspaper in Taiwan has a daily circulation of 100,000) said that the underground radio channels in Taiwan emerged around in the late 1980s. Many of them were founded by academics on university campuses. They broadcasted illegally on shortwave and were often raided by authorities back then.

Today, there are still underground radio channels with many of them based in southern Tawian. Some of them are one-man band operations broadcasting 24 hours a day with most of the airtime given to illegal medication advertisements. The government is said to legalize all existing underground radio channels soon, so as to bring them under control, Cyd Ho commented in the first series of the show.

Formerly a progressive force in the society, Huang said that many of the underground channels today have become conservative with some even radical in their views. They are closed minded and focus only on viewpoints that they like to hear. They refused to interact with groups outside of their own circles. It can be seen as a kind of a "Me" media and a problem in Taiwan's society for sure.

He also mentioned about the international NGO exchange in Taipei that he organized many years ago, under the sponsorship of Taipei's government. The program hosts commented that they too would like to do international NGO exchange in Hong Kong, but the NGO culture is so weakly rooted in Hong Kong that it is difficult to raise funding for it locally.

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