New Tang Dynasty Television, a media affiliate of the Epoch Times, has finally broken onto the cable box and began airing on Rogers Cable on Tuesday.
“I feel very happy,” said NTDTV Canada president Joe Wang. “It’s a breakthough for NTDTV, of course, and also for the Chinese Canadian community that can finally have access to independent Chinese television.”
NTDTV is known for its hard-hitting coverage of issues relating to China that most other Chinese media avoid. It was, for example, the first television network to report the breakout of SARS, while many other Chinese-language broadcasters were toeing the Chinese regime's line that it was still safe to travel to Beijing.
Wang said this is because NTDTV is different from every other Chinese television station out there.
“The uniqueness is since day one we are independent, meaning that we will be reporting events important to the global Chinese community. We will not shy away from quote unquote 'sensitive matters.'”
China’s governing regime, headed by the Chinese Communist Party, is infamous for deeming any topic it wants unreported or reported in a very specific way to be a “sensitive matter" and Chinese media know to exercise caution when touching on those issues.
Topics include Tibet, the Tiananmen Square Massacre, Falun Gong, and currently the scandal associated with melamine-tainted milk in China which has caused the deaths of four babies and sickened tens of thousands.
“As we know, the media out of China, they are all totally controlled by the Chinese government. So that includes quite a few Chinese channels available on Rogers. Even for overseas Chinese media, the Chinese government tries very hard to influence them, so for those media their hands are quite tied sometimes.”
Those ties arise from the Chinese regime's efforts to either buy or influence Chinese media overseas as a way to keep the Chinese diaspora under Beijing’s thumb.
The Jamestown Foundation, a U.S.-based non-partisan think-tank that monitors threats to democracy and freedom, analyzed Beijing's influence on overseas Chinese media in 2001.
It found that three of the four major Chinese newspapers published in the U.S., the Sing Tao Daily, Ming Pao Daily News and The China Press were under the direct influence of the Chinese communist regime.
The fourth, World Journal, is run by a parent company in Taiwan and has increasingly given in to pressure from Mainland China, Jamestown said.
Three of those newspapers, Sing Tao, Ming Pao, and World Journal, also have Canadian editions.
In addition, Chinese authorities have bought airtime on foreign radio stations to broadcast state-run programming, and cable companies around the world have started to carry a host of state-run channels. The result is a Chinese diaspora with views that are sometimes starkly contrasted to those of non-Chinese.
A Reporters Without Borders spokesperson recently noted that many younger Chinese have started to believe the Tiananmen Square Massacre is nothing more than a “Western myth.”
Mr. Wang said NTDTV is outside the “censorship and control of Beijing.”
However, independence has come at a price for NTDTV.
The station’s dedication to reporting on “sensitive matters” has made it a frequent target of interference from Beijing. The regime has intimidated NTDTV’s sponsors, threatened its reporters and used Chinese consular officials to pressure broadcasters not to air the channel.
But despite those difficulties, Mr. Wang said he never gave up hope the channel would make it onto cable in Canada.
“We realize the importance of independent media for the Chinese community,” he said. “We took this path not because it’s easy but because it is important. It has been a long struggle to get on [cable], but it’s very worth while. When the signal came out of the digital box, it was a terrific feeling.”
“We would like to thank Rogers Cable for getting our signal out,” said Mr. Wang.
Rogers is offering NTDTV on channel 630 for free until December 2 and its digital cable boxes, which normally cost $100, are also free with a sign-up for digital cable.