Taiwan Broadcasting System (TBS)

Taiwan Broadcasting System (TBS) is a public broadcast group that was founded in 2006. It operates two of Taiwan’s largest television networks (CTS with five channels, and PTS with three channels), and Hakka TV, which airs in Hakka, a group of Chinese languages spoken in Taiwan. In the last quarter of 2022, TBS launched the streaming service TaiwanPlus, an English-language on-demand program offering news and documentaries.

Media assets

Television: Chinese Television System (CTS): CTS Main Channel, CTS Education and Culture, CTS Recreation, CTS News and Info, CTS Variety; PTS: PTS Main Channel, PTS Taigi, PTS HD, Taiwan Plus; Hakka TV

State Media Matrix Typology: Independent State Funded and State Managed (ISFM)

Ownership and governance

TBS was created in 2006 as part of a media reform process carried out by the Taiwanese government that merged CTS and PTS into one broadcast group. The creation of TBS was based on the Statute Regarding the Disposition of Government Shareholdings in the Terrestrial Television Industry, a legal act adopted by parliament that became effective in 2006, which created the legal basis for the transfer of shares from CTS to the newly created TBS. (The law also obliged the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) to sell its media assets to privately owned companies, a development that significantly changed the Taiwanese media market).

TBS is a public broadcasting entity that is owned by the Taiwanese government. PTS Foundation, formerly the entity that ran PTS, manages all entities that are part of TBS now: PTS, CTS (which donated its shares to PTS Foundation when it was merged with TBS in 2006) and Hakka TV (which joined TBS in 2007). PTS Foundation is governed by the Public Television Act of 2009.

The main governing structure of PTS Foundation, which is a nonprofit organization, is a Board of Directors and Supervisors consisting of 18 members. They are appointed by the Legislative Yuan, Taiwan’s parliament, and endorsed by the Examination Yuan, an independent civil service commission whose main task is to validate civil servants. The Executive Yuan’s members are appointed by the country’s president and confirmed by parliament. The board chair serves as a board chair for all entities in TBS (PTS, CTS and Hakka).

Source of funding and budget

In 2020, PTS Foundation had revenues of TWD 2.35bn (US$ 85m), according to a company annual report. The government funding, including grants from the government, funding from a special government-managed fund and donations from the culture ministry, accounted for over 80% of the total budget.

In 2021, PTS Foundation had revenue of TWD 2.78bn (US$ 90.2m), according to a company annual report. The exact share of the state funding allocation in the overall budget is not known. Based on the data released by PTS Foundation, it exceeds 50%, yet it seems to be much lower than in the previous year. The largest source of revenue, according to the PTS Foundations, is service revenue, accounting for more than 52% of the total revenue. This includes government-commissioned projects such as running a newly established PTS Taiwanese-language channel, Hakka TV, and broadcasting the parliament channel. In addition to that, the outlet also received government grants covering basic operations, a source of funding accounting for nearly 36% of the total revenue.

CTS is the sole entity in TBS that doesn’t receive any funding from the state budget allocated to TBS.

Editorial independence

Although the public media outlets grouped under the TBS umbrella face political pressure from time to time, they generally enjoy editorial independence. Media professionals in Taiwan have a high trust in the programs and productions of the public broadcasters, according to experts in Taiwan’s media.

The Public Television Act puts forward a series of public service media principles that are meant, among other things, to ensure the station’s editorial independence. To guarantee respect for these principles, the station introduced a system of public feedback that allows people to submit complaints about the broadcaster’s programs. After receiving an answer from the TBS’ department responsible for the incriminated program, viewers can decide, if they consider that their complaint was nor properly addressed, to ask the station’s board of directors to further investigate the issue. The board is obliged to respond to the request and publicly issue their own verdict. The decision of the board is made public and sent with instructions to the program producer, the station’s director and the complainer.

The TBS media stations have no independent assessment mechanism to validate the editorial independence however, the group has a robust system of public participation that helps the Board of Directors to constantly monitor the weaknesses of the stations’ editorial coverage.

October 2023