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Population: 24 million
Internet penetration: 95%
17th June 2024

Taiwans media are dominated by a number of private companies that are both highly competitive and increasingly polarised. Recent presidential elections again put the focus on strained relations with China, which claims the island territory, and pro-independence and pro-unification arguments are often played out in the press.

The January 2024 election was won by pro-independence candidate William Lai of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), despite him being labelled a troublemaker by China. Chinese media and officials repeatedly warned people against voting for Lai, with the opposition KMT promising better ties with Beijing. Against the geopolitical backdrop, a media war was taking place in Taiwan. The pro-independent media such as Liberty Times adopted a pro-democracy line, saying that voting for the pro-unification candidate would be tantamount to voting for Chinese autocracy. The pro-unification media such as United Daily and China Times dubbed Lai ‘the dangerous friend of the US’ who would bring war to the region.

A feature of this election, though, was the rise of a third force, the Taiwan People’s Party (TPP), which placed the spotlight on media bias. It launched a boycott of the commercial news channels, alleging biased reporting and pointing out that some of them – notably EBC and Sanlih – were owned by tycoons, who were too close to political parties.

But while TPP called for impartiality, it also launched its own news channels on social media. Its candidate, Ko Wen-je – known popularly as Professor Ko – used social media to appeal to young voters, sometimes making politically incorrect statements which made him seem like a breath of fresh air. He enjoyed the highest social media popularity of any Taiwanese politician – his TikTok posts sometimes attract more than 1.5 million views, and he duly received a quarter of the popular vote, succeeding in his goal of denying any party an overall majority.

Although TikTok is owned by the Chinese technology company ByteDance, it is not banned in Taiwan – indeed it is used by 19% of our sample for any purpose and 8% for news. The pro-independence government does, however, consider it to be a ‘a national cybersecurity threat’, with the possibility of control by ‘foreign hostile forces’.

While the media wars were going on during election season, some news media were tackling social issues, adopting innovations in storytelling, and engaging with young readers. The public broadcaster PTS, one of the most trusted brands, cooperated with Taiwan’s fact-checking organisations on countering election misinformation and detecting deepfakes.1

Some commercial channels, for example, Formosa TV News, have developed AI news presenters, largely as a demonstration that they were innovative and up-to-date. The AI anchors read stories which were written and checked by journalists. Formosa TV is considering training its AI anchor to read in the Taiwanese dialect, which is different from official Mandarin. PTS published AI guidelines such as avoiding harm and stating that that news reports generated with AI assistance should be reviewed by humans. PTS will also cooperate with Japan's NHK to create a Taiwanese version of the AI sign language anchor for the 2025 Tokyo Deaflympics. It is expected to establish Taiwan's AI sign language for public service purposes, such as disaster prevention and rescue.

Two business news magazines, CommonWealth and Business Weekly, are among the most trusted brands. Both expanded their markets by launching niche channels and strengthened their digital transformation with multimedia storytelling, data journalism, and AI assistance. Over the years, CommonWealth’s digital revenues have increased and largely compensated print losses.

The Reporter, an eight-year-old independent news organisation, continues to make award-winning investigative reports. Its analysis of the trajectory of a Chinese rocket over Taiwan (actually a satellite launch) was adopted and translated by the Washington Post. Since 2022 it has run a 'Junior Reporter’ project, inviting teenagers to read and write news stories and to interview the three presidential candidates.2

Since 2020 Taiwanese news publishers have lobbied for the government to lean on the US-based tech giants to pay for news. Legislators have proposed drafts for bargaining codes and journalism funds as in other countries. Google launched a US$10m three-year programme to help news providers with digital transformation. Twenty-three applicants gained grants in 2023, but it was not without criticism – first, that it was to support digital transformation, not news; secondly, that some tech companies received grants, not only news publishers; and third, that the fund was temporary.

Lihyun Lin
National Taiwan University

Changing media

Traditional media sources such as television and print have become less important over time while digital news has consolidated its position. YouTube (46%) is the most important online platform for news, with Facebook (39%) losing traction.

Pay for online news



Trust in news overall



Trust in the news has risen by 5 percentage points in this election year but remains amongst the lowest in our multi-market survey. Trust in specific news brands, such as investigative news magazines CommonWealth and Business Weekly, is also up, together with public broadcaster PTS. Public service media, together with fact-check organisations and the government, have tried to step up their efforts on how to counter misinformation in the last year.

RSF World Press Freedom Index


Score 76.13

Measure of press freedom from NGO Reporters Without Borders based on expert assessment. More at

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1 PTS, ‘Fake News in the Election’. 6 Dec 2023.
'Spot Deep Fakes Created by AI, Feb 2024.

2 The Reporter, ‘The Reporter’s impact report 2023’.

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