World Media in 2005: Taiwan

Taiwan's troubled relationship with China has not affected the growth of its free media. Despite the success of cable, terrestrial TV is set to become more popular with advertisers in 2005

Taiwan's fraught relations with China continue to dictate its fate, particularly as China becomes evermore the global economic superpower.

Yet Taiwan, under its Democratic president, Chen Shui-bian, wants to break free from its past and the population is increasingly keen on the idea of independence. In a survey by Taiwan's National Chengchi University tracking the past 12 years, the number of those identifying themselves as Taiwanese has risen from 17 per cent to 41 per cent. Those describing themselves as Chinese has plummeted from 26 per cent to 6 per cent.

Yet China - and most of the rest of the world - still regards Taiwan as a Chinese province. China has warned that if Taiwan changes its name from being a Republic of China to a Republic of Taiwan, war is definite.

So President Chen is treading carefully. A war would jeopardise Taiwan's prosperity and strong relations with the US. China would not be keen on going to war either. Consequently, the missiles permanently aimed at the island serve more as a threat than a promise.

Despite Taiwan's troubled identity, its media could not be more different from China's. The free media in Taiwan has spawned 350 newspapers, 150 radio stations and, most significantly, has helped to grow cable and satellite TV penetration to 85 per cent, easily the highest in any Asian country.

TV claims more than 60 per cent of adspend, with cable TV attracting about two-thirds of that percentage. Due to high demand, cable prices ballooned in 2004, with some primetime rates rising by as much as 60 per cent.

The four terrestrial stations are struggling to claw back some market share. They are still popular with viewers, however, due to a seemingly endless supply of Mandarin soaps.

Terrestrial channels may also become more attractive to advertisers in 2005 because the government is ending political ownership of the broadcast media. This will see eight new public TV channels launching.

In print, the popular and gossipy Hong Kong daily Apple launched to great acclaim, selling 400,000 copies every day. It certainly sparked attention by being the only Taiwanese paper to be audited.

But with so much competition typifying Taiwan's media, there is often an emphasis on quantity over quality. For instance, there are six 24-hour news channels and quite plainly not enough stories to fill them.


USdollars million at current prices. All years based on US$1=

NT$34.4 *Estimated

News- Mag-

Total papers azines TV Radio Outdoor Internet

1992 1,821 806 127 659 79 150 0

1993 1,922 806 136 716 92 171 0

1994 2,125 908 135 795 99 189 0

1995 2,353 1,111 145 841 115 140 0

1996 1,258 372 116 706 64 - 0

1997 1,484 525 141 746 73 - 0

1998 1,878 615 171 1,012 80 - 0

1999 1,724 548 177 937 62 - 0

2000 1,737 545 209 891 67 - 25

2001 1,879 630 205 928 91 - 25

2002 1,900 424 239 1,105 105 - 28

2003 2,078 405 274 1,261 107 - 32

2004 2,193 409 282 1,356 109 - 37

2005* 2,287 415 289 1,430 111 - 42

2006* 2,385 425 293 1,509 112 - 46

2007* 2,481 437 300 1,575 117 - 52


1) Includes agency commission

2) Excludes production costs

3) Before discounts until 1995; after discounts from 1996

4) Includes classified advertising until 1995; recruitment, classified

and charity ads excluded from 1996

5) Radio since 1996 is a ZenithOptimedia estimate

6) Internet 2003 is a ZenithOptimedia estimate



Newspaper: Liberty News (daily, 1,300,000)

Business magazine: Business Weekly (136,000)

Consumer magazine: Reader's Digest (monthly, 180,000)

Most-watched TV programme (2003): Taiwan Pi-Li Fire

Best new TV format: Any Mandarin soap


Circulation: All circulation figures are publishers' claims

Readership: Nielsen Media Research

TV viewing: AC Nielsen


Newspapers: China Times, United Daily News, Liberty Times

Magazines: China Times Weekly Co.

Television: PTS (public), FTV, TTV, CTS, CTV


Media topic du jour - Media creativity. The market has an insatiable appetite for creative media, even though most ideas never see the light of day.

Reigning media guru and why - Rose Tsou, the general manager of Yahoo! Taiwan, one of the industry's top negotiators.

Media mogul to be seen dining with and why - Mr Hung Tze Jan: a publisher, editor and film-maker and the chairman of the Magazine Business Association of Taipei. He's also a director of several Taiwan print and information industry associations.

Car to drive - Take a taxi.

Phone to carry - Motorola V3.

Top-selling beer brand - Mythos. The only Greek beer in Taipei, to be found in limited supply in the only Greek restaurant in the city - Mykonos.

Whatever you do don't say ... "President Chen's faked assassination attempt was an election-winning scam."

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