ROC Yearbook

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Nankan 1567 Bookstore is one of the many independent bookstores that have flourished in the past decade serving as venues to disseminate values as well as publications. (Courtesy of Taiwan Panorama)

 

News Agencies

Taiwan has one of the freest media environments in Asia, with intense competition among news agencies offering breaking news, economic intelligence and a variety of political viewpoints.

 

The largest and oldest among the news agencies is the Central News Agency (CNA) 中央通訊社, established in 1924 in mainland China and relocated to Taiwan in 1949. CNA is the Republic of China’s (ROC) official news agency, funded only in part by the central government. Providing news around the world in Chinese, English, Spanish and Japanese, CNA also operates the largest online photo sales platform in Taiwan. Capitalizing on its worldwide newsgathering network, in 2010 the agency expanded into video news.

 

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Another prominent news agency, the China Economic News Service 中國經濟通訊社, was founded in 1974 to provide overseas investors with up-to-date business and economic news as well as contact and background information on Taiwanese suppliers. The Military News Agency 軍事新聞通訊社, established in 1946, is the only domestic news agency that specializes in news about the ROC armed forces.

 

Print Media

Newspapers

According to The Nielsen Co., newspaper readership in Taiwan peaked at 76.3 percent in 1991 and has steadily declined since then. Print editions of newspapers continue to lag behind television and the Internet in terms of penetration rate. Newspapers have responded by going digital, delivering news to readers via online and mobile platforms.

 

Taiwan’s major Chinese-language dailies are the China Times 中國時報, the United Daily News 聯合報, The Liberty Times 自由時報 and the Apple Daily 蘋果日報. (Unless otherwise indicated, newspapers and magazines mentioned below are Chinese-language publications.)

 

Founded in 1950, the China Times presents itself as an intellectually sophisticated paper that provides extensive coverage of international affairs. Its electronic media operations include the terrestrial TV station China Television Co. 中國電視公司 and satellite TV channel CTI Television, Inc. (CtiTV) 中天電視. Sister publications of the China Times include the Commercial Times 工商時報, the China Times Weekly 時報周刊 and the Want Daily 旺報, a newspaper launched in 2009 targeting Taiwanese readers interested in mainland Chinese business affairs.

 

Founded in 1951, the United Daily News continues to enjoy a loyal readership. Its affiliated publications include the Economic Daily News 經濟日報 as well as the United Evening News 聯合晚報, which has been Taiwan’s sole evening paper since 2005.

 

The Liberty Times, which began operations in 1988, bills itself as a guardian of the fourth estate and defender of Taiwan’s local ideology. Its motto “Taiwan Foremost, Liberty First” reflects its more progressive stance.

 

The debut of the Apple Daily in 2003 shook up the newspaper market by offering tabloid-style excitement. Like its parent paper of the same name founded in Hong Kong, the Taiwan edition has carved out a niche by publishing intriguing accounts and photos of figures in the worlds of politics, entertainment and sports.

 

Recent years have seen the rise of giveaway newspapers. Among them, Upaper targets the over 2 million daily Taipei Metro 臺北捷運 passengers. Another free newspaper, the Sharp Daily 爽報, is available in Taipei 臺北 and Kaohsiung 高雄 cities; it shares news content with the Apple Daily and has a daily circulation of about 250,000.

 

For foreign residents in Taiwan wishing to keep abreast of local and world affairs, the Taipei Times and The China Post are the two printed English dailies to choose from.

 

Online News

To satisfy a growing Internet-savvy population, traditional newspapers have focused on operating online platforms, social networking sites as well as mobile applications. For instance, the Apple Daily has merged live reporting, video, animation and user feedback in its online news updates; the United Daily News in 2015 unveiled a new website design tailored to mobile gadgets; and the China Times publishes Instant Articles enabling fast download on Facebook. Overall, advertising sales generated by online news are projected to increase by 18 percent annually, prompting other print news publications to go digital as well.

 

Stand-alone online publications have also been on the rise in recent years. The two largest online news publications in Taiwan are ETtoday 東森新聞雲 and NOWnews 今日新聞. Other choices include cnYES 鉅亨網, specializing in financial news; New Talk 新頭殼, which aims for independent reporting, media reform and citizen participation; and Storm Media Group 風傳媒, featuring international news and political investigations.

 

A number of online news publications are also available in English, including Taiwan News and CNA’s Focus Taiwan which is also published in several other languages.

 

Magazines

An increasing number of consumers are reading magazines online as publishers offer more access via mobile applications. Market surveys show that magazines on finance and business management, news and current affairs as well as fashion are the most popular among Taiwan’s reading public.

 

Leading periodicals on finance and business management include the Business Weekly 商業周刊, Business Today 今周刊, CommonWealth 天下雜誌, Smart 智富月刊 and Wealth 財訊雜誌, while Next Magazine 壹週刊, the China Times Weekly, the Ming Pao Weekly 明報周刊, the TVBS Weekly TVBS周刊 and the Global Views Monthly 遠見雜誌 are readers’ top choices for news and current affairs.

 

Taiwan remains an attractive market for publishers of internationally known periodicals. Some, such as Time, Newsweek and The Economist, offer direct subscription services or distribute their publications through bookstores, while others publish Chinese-language editions in pursuit of a wider readership. The Chinese editions of fashion magazines such as Vogue, Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, ELLE and ViVi have long enjoyed top spots in Taiwan’s sales charts. Those of National Geographic magazine, science magazines such as Scientific American and Newton, as well as sports and leisure magazines such as Golf and XXL have also succeeded in carving out a niche in Taiwan’s magazine market.

 

The success of English-learning magazines is also a noteworthy feature of Taiwan’s media market. Studio Classroom 空中英語教室 and Let’s Talk in English 大家說英語, both associated with radio and TV programs, have ranked among the top 20 best-selling magazines for many years.

 

Taiwan Panorama 台灣光華雜誌, established in 1976, is an important periodical that offers international readers in-depth insight into Taiwan’s society and culture. It is published in two editions featuring parallel texts, one with Chinese and English, the other with Chinese and Japanese.

 

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Books

Implemented in Taiwan since 1989, the International Standard Book Number (ISBN) system is a bellwether for growth in the island’s publishing industry. In 2015, the industry saw about 39,700 new book titles with ISBN codes, marking a 10-year low in the number of new publications. This decline is mainly attributed to a growing number of readers preferring browsing on mobile devices over traditional reading, and a slowing economy also dragging down market demand. Although new books from publishing companies are decreasing, books published by individuals are bucking the trend and steadily growing each year.

 

Kingstone 金石堂 and Eslite 誠品 are the nation’s two largest chain booksellers, and books.com.tw 博客來 its most prominent online bookstore. Among book publishers, the majority are small, independent firms while a score of large publishers are affiliated with media conglomerates enjoying ample financial and marketing resources.

 

In addition to works of fiction, books on personal and career development as well as health and fitness have a wide appeal among Taiwanese readers, with translations of foreign books continuing to sell well in 2015. Translated works made up 23.93 percent of the new book titles published in 2015, with Japan, the United States, the United Kingdom and South Korea the main sources for book licensing.

 

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Digital Publishing

The digital publishing industry has seen faster growth than paper books in recent years, producing about 2,150 new e-book titles with ISBN codes in 2015. Publishers have become increasingly optimistic about the future of the e-book market, as private-sector interest in developing digital content has grown, e-book platforms have been launched and e-reading devices are available at affordable prices.

 

Among the leading e-book platforms are those established by major telecommunications service providers: eBook Town 遠傳e書城, an affiliate of Far EasTone Telecommunications 遠傳電信; myBook myBook書城 of Taiwan Mobile 台灣大哥大, which offers titles from more than 100 publishers as well as an audio publication inventory; and Hami Bookstore Hami書城, operated by Chunghwa Telecom 中華電信, with digital book content as well as video books. Other popular e-book platforms include PUBU, which features books published by individuals, and MagV, popular for its wide selection of magazines. Subscription to unlimited access is widely offered by Taiwan’s major e-book platforms.

 

Broadcast Media Profile

 

Broadcast Media

Radio

As of December 2015, Taiwan had 171 radio stations. Most of them began operation only after 1993, when media liberalization resulted in the release of more radio frequencies for commercial use. This sharp increase in the number of stations, however, has been accompanied by a declining number of listeners. Despite facing a challenging future, radio broadcasting continues to maintain a viable share of the media market. Surveys have found that music programs are most popular, with news and talk in second and third place, respectively.

 

Radio Taiwan International (RTI) 中央廣播電台, funded by the government, creates and broadcasts programs to regions around the world in 13 languages, highlighting Taiwan’s culture, society, and political and economic affairs. Its broadcasting reached Africa for the first time in January 2015, covering a total of 22 countries worldwide. RTI’s Mandarin teaching programs are particularly popular in Latin America.

 

International Community Radio Taipei 台北國際社區廣播電台—ICRT—is the island’s only predominantly English-language radio station, and broadcasts talk shows, news reports and Western pop music. In addition, a dozen other radio stations air programs in English, Thai, Indonesian and Vietnamese, providing tens of thousands of Southeast Asians working in Taiwan with practical information about Taiwan, local labor regulations and news from their homelands.

 

Among Taiwan’s seven nonprofit, public service radio stations are National Education Radio 國立教育廣播電台, which primarily offers educational and language-learning programs, and the Police Broadcasting Service 警察廣播電台, which specializes in round-the-clock traffic and news reports.

 

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Television

Terrestrial Television

Taiwan’s television industry dates back half a century to 1962. In its first three decades, TV broadcasting was monopolized by three terrestrial stations—Taiwan Television Enterprise 臺灣電視公司, the Chinese Television System (CTS) 中華電視公司 and China Television Co. The industry has become highly diversified since 1993, when multi-channel cable and satellite television system operators and content providers officially entered the market. Competition further intensified with the launching of two additional terrestrial broadcasters—Formosa Television 民間全民電視公司 in 1997 and the Public Television Service (PTS) 公共電視 in 1998.

 

Supporting Domestic TV Programs

 

Established in 2006, the Taiwan Broadcasting System 臺灣公共廣播電視集團 is the umbrella organization for several publicly funded television enterprises, including PTS, CTS, Hakka TV 客家電視 and Taiwan Macroview TV 臺灣宏觀電視, which produces and distributes Chinese-language programs about Taiwan worldwide. This array of programming, along with the Taiwan Indigenous Television 原住民族電視台 under the Indigenous Peoples Cultural Foundation 原住民族文化事業基金會, caters to audiences often overlooked by commercial television, such as minority groups, children, senior citizens and the hearing-impaired.

 

In 2012, a nationwide transition among terrestrial stations ending analog TV signals in favor of digital broadcasting was completed under the supervision of the National Communications Commission (NCC) 國家通訊傳播委員會. The digital switchover has freed up bandwidth and facilitated high-definition content-rich television programming of 20 channels offered free-of-charge to viewers.

 

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Cable Television

Cable TV is overwhelmingly preferred to terrestrial television, as Taiwan’s mountainous terrain and high-rises in urban areas often result in poor reception. NCC statistics show that as of December 2015, cable television had an analog household penetration rate of 59.97 percent with over 5 million subscribers. In December 2015, a total of 115 satellite broadcasting program providers offered 299 channels via satellite to 61 cable television system operators.

 

Weather forecasts and news broadcasts are the most popular programming among television viewers in Taiwan, followed by foreign movies, variety and entertainment programs, locally produced dramas, and travel shows. The most watched domestic news channels include TVBS News TVBS新聞台, SET News 三立新聞台, Cti News 中天新聞台 and EBC News 東森新聞台, known for their large fleets of satellite newsgathering vehicles for live coverage of important events and breaking news. Widely carried foreign film channels, all of which provide Chinese subtitles, include HBO (Home Box Office), Cinemax and Star Movies.

 

Live telecasts of local and foreign baseball and basketball league games, along with a wide selection of other sports programming, are available on FOX Sports and Videoland Sports 緯來體育台. Widely carried foreign-origin children’s channels, meanwhile, include the Disney Channel, the Cartoon Network and Discovery Kids.

 

Digital Transition

The NCC is pushing the cable TV industry toward full digitization and is also allowing competition for subscribers over a greater number of service areas than before. The Legislative Yuan 立法院 in December 2015 approved an amendment to the Cable Radio and Television Act to promote cable television digitization. In order to spur competition in areas where market structures were previously monopolistic, this amendment also lifted the previous limitation of cable system operators to their licensed franchise areas.

 

Cable system operators have expressed support for the government’s call for full digitization; 89.85 percent of cable television subscribers had switched to digital systems as of December 2015.

 

Digital Convergence

 

An increasing variety of digital video programming is also available via the Internet. Chunghwa Telecom, for instance, operates an Internet Protocol television platform known as MOD (Multimedia on Demand). Pay-per-view movies and other programs are offered in addition to a basic channel package. The recent rise of over-the-top (OTT) television, which delivers the content users select directly to their computers, tablets or mobile phones, is shaking up the traditional television industry. Taiwan’s OTT market has low entry barriers, as service providers are relatively loosely regulated and are not required to build network infrastructure. Market entrants include telecommunications operators, broadcasters, Internet-based providers and hardware makers such as manufacturers of smart mobile devices and set-top boxes.

 

 

Related Websites

• Central News Agency: http://www.cna.com.tw

•  Focus Taiwan: http://focustaiwan.tw

• Radio Taiwan International: http://www.rti.org.tw

• Public Television Service: http://www.pts.org.tw

•  Taiwan Macroview TV: http://www.pts.org.tw/macroview

•  Taiwan Indigenous Television: http://titv.ipcf.org.tw

•  Taiwan Today: http://www.taiwantoday.tw

• National Communications Commission: http://www.ncc.gov.tw