Taiwan Public Radio Mistakenly Sounds the Alarm About Fictional Chinese Military Invasion

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    Reportedly, Taiwan’s public radio station CTS allowed mock alerts, which were to be used in a forthcoming disaster exercise in New Taipei City, to enter its text feed, creating an alarming ongoing news ticker on its 7:07 A.M. news broadcast on April 20. The text contained frightening messages such as “Communist forces strike New Taipei City with guided missiles.” “Naval vessel explodes, facilities, ships damaged at Port of Taipei,” read another fake update. “Arson and explosives placed by suspected special forces at Banqiao [train] Station, no casualties,” CTS's news ticker further claimed.

    “The CTS chyron had also warned that conflict with China was ‘in danger of breaking out,' and that New Taipei officials had established a command and control center,” Newsweek reported on Wednesday. “‘Chinese Communists make preparations for war, [Taiwan] president declares state of emergency effective 8 a.m. March 6,' the text read.”

    CTS's erroneous broadcast of fake alerts led to a number of citizens of New Taipei City phoning the local government to inquire about the messages that were broadcast on Wednesday. Responding to criticisms, CTS pinned the following statement in the middle of its YouTube streaming later on Wednesday: “The news ticker content shown earlier was part of a disaster prevention video created by the New Taipei Fire Department. Today, due to incorrect settings, the content of yesterday's video was mistakenly inserted. Please don't panic! We hereby clarify and apologize!”

    CTS released a more comprehensive account of what happened on April 20: “The New Taipei City Government [made] a video of a disaster drill using the script supplied from the New Taipei City Fire Department. The news reporter who produced the video employed a horizontal layout of screens that included news tickers. This was accomplished by making an alteration in the path of the text link to a file. The news producer did not restore the link's path after finishing the recording on Tuesday [April 19], causing an error appearing on the morning news show.”

    Taiwan's National Communications Commission (NCC) began an inquiry into the CTS news ticker scandal on April 20. The NCC believes that CTS could have violated Article 21 of Taiwan's Radio and Television Act, which prohibits programming that “disrupt public order or adversely affect good social customs.”

    “TV stations that breach the article face fines of NT$200,000 to NT$2 million (US$6,838 to US$68,378), with the minimum raised to NT$400,000 if it is deemed a major offense,” NCC representatives announced at a press conference on Wednesday.

    The long-running political conflict in the region between Taipei and Beijing has grown worse during the past few weeks, placing Taiwan on alert for possible military attacks from China. Beijing regards Taiwan as a Chinese territorial area and has repeatedly stated that it would “reunify” the island nation located in the southeastern part of China and “the mainland,” or China. In keeping with this aggressive policy, the Chinese People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) has increased the number of air strikes entering the Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) of Taiwan in the past few months.

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