Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Local English news in Taiwan

Another English news show has been started, this time on ERA TV. There's a discussion about it on Forumosa, quite interesting.

Check it out if you ever wonder why the shows keep starting up and folding in, why the productions seem of rather low quality, why local English news isn't broadcasted overseas.

Here are my two cents in the discussion:

I can't help but wonder if there's enough demand abroad for non-business/technology news on Taiwan. For business/tech news, headlines and text for business/financial people to quickly skim through works much better than having to sit through the entire story, listening to the reporter talk at his/her own pace. For all the other news, I simply don't think there is enough demand for it in English anywhere, even in Taiwan to make it a viable business - you can see that from watching all the English news shows pop up from different local TV stations and then eventually folding. But the reason FTV still has it mainly because it's done it for so long, and it's added significant indirect value for the company. Ratings are still low, meaning no one wants to buy commercial time during the show, but the English segment attracts other worthwhile attention and business, which is good for FTV's image and finance.

Most international TV networks will buy footage from local TV stations for less important news, and send in their own crew for more important news. For less important news (like typhoons), it's not that important anyway, so they'll take the footage, write their own script and re-edit the video. For more important news (like the huge anti-Chen Shuibian and anti-anti-CSB protests), they will be more specific about what kind of interviews they want and what footage they need, so they'll have their own guys fly in (if they don't already have a team stationed here). Few int'l networks have people stationed here. I believe CNN doesn't, BBC has someone that usually writes for print or radio and may do a TV story once in a blue moon. Reuters, Asahi and NHK have small teams here, usually just one reporter and one cameraman.

I suppose int'l networks can interview or do lives with local reporters on special occasions, and that would be interesting, but the problem with that is there are very few local TV reporters who can speak at least semi-fluent English. There seems to be a very, very small pool of English-speaking TV news talent in Taiwan.


UUu Ming said...

In a time when the TV networks are dying a slow death, companies are not willing to pay the same amount they paid 5 years ago for ad/commercial time, and the trend is drifting away from TV to computer screens. It's a tough industry to be in now. The TV industry needs to be very creative ASAP or major networks may follow in newspaper's footsteps.

翁郁容 Michella Jade Weng ミシェラ・オング said...

UUu Ming,

Yes, I agree with you. However, almost no one here has figured out how to be profitable broadcasting news on the Internet yet.

We'll see. It's an exciting time to be alive, also in this respect - we get to see lots of big changes happen.

UUu Ming said...

Maybe "Naked News" is an option.. haha.

Seriously, in a world overloading with information I think what stands out is a trustworthy news source. The problem is that usually the source is hardly trust worthy especially if it's people. People/Companies are always trying to leverage the media for their own gains.

Who knows, maybe one day one we'll be able to subscribe to a news network to gain useful and accurate news worthy info.