20 Apr 2022
Taiwan’s government-funded Chinese Television System (CTS) accidentally broadcast a running news ticker on Wednesday morning falsely declaring Chinese forces had launched a military invasion of New Taipei City, the Taipei Times reported on Thursday.
The Taiwanese public broadcaster CTS allowed mock alerts intended for an upcoming disaster drill in New Taipei City to enter its text feed for a running news ticker at the bottom of its 7:00 a.m. news bulletin on April 20. The text included alarming messages, such as, “Communist forces strike New Taipei City with guided missiles.”
“Naval vessel explodes, facilities, ships damaged at Port of Taipei,” read another false 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 accidental broadcast of the mock alerts caused several residents of New Taipei City to phone the local government and inquire about the messages on Wednesday. In response, CTS pinned the following statement to the top of its YouTube live stream later 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 issued a more detailed explanation of the incident later on April 20, writing:
We were tasked by the New Taipei City Government to shoot a disaster drill video, with the script provided by the New Taipei City Fire Department. The news producer who recorded the video used a horizontal screen layout with news tickers, which was done through a change in the path of a text file link. However, the producer did not restore the file link path after completing the recording on Tuesday [April 19], resulting in the error in the morning news program.
Taiwan’s National Communications Commission (NCC) launched an investigation into the CTS news ticker fiasco on April 20. The NCC suspects CTS may have breached Article 21 of Taiwan’s Radio and Television Act, which bans programs 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 said at a press conference on Wednesday.
Longstanding political tension between Taipei and Beijing has increased in recent months, placing Taiwan on high alert for a possible act of military aggression from China. Beijing considers Taiwan a Chinese territory and has repeatedly threatened to “reunify” the island nation — which is located off China’s southeastern coast — with “the mainland,” or China. In line with this belligerent stance, China’s People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) has ramped up air sorties that penetrate Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) in recent months.