The National Communications Commission (NCC) should implement a tiered pricing policy so that people can reject content broadcast by so-called “red media,” protesters said yesterday.

As yesterday was the Ghost Festival, protesters gathered outside the commission’s office in Taipei, where they laid out food on tables in the style of offerings made on the day, as it is the commission’s job to catch “red ghosts,” they said.

People should not watch content produced by Want Want China Times Group, which owns China Television Co and CTi TV, as they are tainted by Beijing’s influence, they said.

The protesters have established an alliance to defy “red media,” with the organization including members from youth groups and young city council members from across political lines, they said.

They signed a declaration asking the commission to return to the people the right to take down content produced by “red media.”

The commission should stop funding them through fixed cable subscription fees, the protesters said.

Yen Ming-wei (顏銘緯), the Taiwan Statebuilding Party’s director of strategy, said that the nation has about 5 million cable service subscribers, who pay, on average, a fixed fee of NT$523 per month to access cable channels.

They must subscribe to the entire package and have no right to unsubscribe from individual channels, let alone those of “red media,” Yen said.

The commission in 2017 proposed tiered pricing plans for cable television services, through which people were to be given the right to subscribe to individual channels, he said.

The delay in implementing the policy shows that the agency is cowardly and incompetent, while it empowers “red media” to infiltrate and divide public opinion, Yen said.

Kaohsiung City Councilor Kao Min-lin (高閔琳) accused the commission of administrative inertia, as it postponed the implementation of the tiered pricing policy until 2021.

The right to reject media is the first step to prevent Taiwan from becoming Hong Kong, Kao said.

“Beijing would buy Taiwanese media at any cost, because it wants to create favorable views of itself, which in turn helps its favorite candidate win at election time,” she said. “Last year’s nine-in-one elections proved that the broadcast campaign launched by red media can elect a gasbag as Kaohsiung mayor and even enable that person to run for president,” she said.

“Red media should not exist in a democratic country. If we believe that democracy means fair competition and free elections, then we should not allow capitalists or agents from foreign adversaries to influence them,” Taipei City Councilor Miao Bo-ya (苗博雅) said.

“If the commission can revoke licenses of broadcast media run by foreign agents, the agency should use it,” Miao said.

Several civic groups have said that restaurants and cafeterias are paid if they show Cti TV News for customers, Miao said, adding that the Fair Trade Commission should investigate those claims.

The NCC said that the tiered pricing policy would still be launched in 2021.