Taiwan: Indigenous TV's Second Anniversary
Below are extracts from an article written by Cindy Sui and published by the International Herald Tribune:
The two-year-old Channel 16, which marked its second anniversary Sunday, aims to help the island's 470,000 aborigines regain a sense of pride in their long-devastated cultures. The station also hopes to raise consciousness in
It comes at a time when
"In the past,
"Only by having our own TV station are we able to have discussions about issues that concern us and have aborigines' point of view heard in Taiwan's media, laws, education, et cetera," he said in an interview. "And only when we have a joint way of expressing ourselves as a group can we realize who we are."
Aborigine advocates had discussed a channel since the 1980s, and a Han Chinese legislator from a small political party, hoping to win aboriginal votes, publicly proposed it in the late 1990s. TITV went on the air July 1, 2005.
Previously, the only programs about
With about 100 workers and 350 million Taiwan new dollars, or about $10.6 million, in annual government funding, TITV offers 24-hour programming, including news, interviews and aboriginal language lessons, as well as a music and a cooking show, and soon, the first aboriginal situation comedy.
The station regularly invites experts, including doctors and academics, to address issues like alienation among aboriginal youth, alcohol abuse and the encroachment on aborigines' land by development projects. Aborigines have shorter life spans and higher unemployment and suicide rates than the rest of
But TITV faces many challenges, including the large number of aboriginal languages, and the difficulty hiring aborigines with the right skills.
Some critics say the station is not doing enough to promote tribal languages that face extinction.
Few aborigines younger than 40 are fluent in their tribal language, and less than 5 percent of children are believed to able to speak their tribal language at all, thanks to previous government efforts of assimilation.
"The station should do more to reverse this trend, but most of its broadcast is in Mandarin," said Namoh Rata, an aboriginal language professor at
Masao, the station director, said it would be difficult to broadcast mostly in aboriginal languages because there are so many. "Which language do you choose?" he asked.
Other than the language lessons and weekly news broadcasts in the major tribes' languages, most of TITV's programs, including the daily news, are in Chinese.
Janubark, an aboriginal ethnic relations scholar at
But there is no financing for multiple stations, and TITV has difficulty maintaining aboriginal staffing at its current level of 87 percent, given the lower educational levels among indigenous peoples. Most of the station's technical jobs go to Han Chinese.
Even so, TITV's critics say the station has had a significant impact in a short time. Mainstream stations have picked up numerous stories the station has broken.