Taiwan alters laws to ban sex, violence in media

Fri Dec 11, 2009 3:12am EST
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TAIPEI (Reuters Life!) - Taiwan's parliament changed laws on Friday to ban gratuitous images of sex and violence in the island's racy media following a surge in parental complaints.

Passage of a bill that outlaws explicit photos, television scenes and online graphics comes after officials issued two fines, totaling T$1 million ($30,900), against the publisher of mainstream newspaper Apple Daily over its online imagery.

"Entire families see this. Children see it. Only in Taiwan do we have these images. You go to Hong Kong and it's not there," said Ke Ming-hsiu, aide to legislator Hung Hsiu-chu who sponsored the bill with broad bi-partisan support.

"This isn't news, so it won't get protection under news freedom laws," Ke said.

Parental complaints to the Taiwan government had soared before the city of Taipei fined Apple Daily's publisher, a government official said.

The paper had built a name on its real-life animation of grisly crimes and even a make-believe video of golf star Tiger Woods crashing a vehicle.

Taiwan, a vibrant democracy, is known in Asia for its barely regulated and intensely competitive news media.

The parliament bill, which passed without opposition, revises three acts that govern media broadcasts and the welfare of children and teenagers. Parliament must vote two more times to finalize it, but no roadblocks are expected.

(Reporting by Ralph Jennings, editing by Miral Fahmy)