Taiwanese news station apologises for fake news alerts about Taipei being hit by Chinese missile

The error was corrected seven minutes and 49 seconds into the broadcast.

Karen Lui | April 21, 2022, 11:12 AM

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Alarming messages about an alleged war attack by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) against Taiwan were falsely displayed on the news ticker of a Taiwanese television news broadcast on Apr. 20.

These messages were later confirmed to be untrue and were published "by mistake".

War, panic-buying, missiles

A user on popular online forum PTT shared the following screenshots that show the alarming messages in the news ticker box (highlighted with a red box) at around 7:04am on Apr. 20.

The images shown onscreen appear to be unrelated to the messages shown in the news ticker.

In the first screenshot, the news ticker said, "Risk of war outbreak, New Taipei City government launches joint response command and control centre".

Image via jackiera on PTT.

Next, it said, "CCP intensely prepares for war, the president announces emergency order, which takes effect from 8pm on Mar. 6".

Image via jackiera on PTT.

Here's another few:

"New Taipei City government appeals to the public not to panic, will share war-related news and information via media"

Image via jackiera on PTT.

"Affected by the war, panic buying sweeps across nation, empty shelves in stores"

Image via jackiera on PTT.

"Taipei hit by CCP missile, Taipei port war ship explodes, facilities, boats destroyed"

Image via jackiera on PTT.

"Banqiao bus stop suspected to be set on fire and exposed to explosives by the enemy's special agents, no injuries or casualties"

Image via jackiera on PTT.

Some of the comments left by netizens in the forum thread include:

"April Fool's?"

"Should be punished for spreading rumours."

"What a joke."

"Is this for real?"

"Did someone pull a prank with the news ticker?"

Broadcasting station apologised for error

The broadcasting station, Chinese Television System (CTS), has since published an apology on its website.

They explained that the news channel was cooperating with the New Taipei City government fire bureau to record a disaster prevention video.

Due to a wrong setting made by a production staff, the messages provided for the recording were flashed wrongly during the morning news programme on Apr. 20 instead.

The morning news producer and editor had noticed the error and corrected it seven minutes and 49 seconds into the broadcast, the statement added.

The staff involved have been dealt with accordingly and the acting general manager of CTS will seek disciplinary action from CTS's board of directors, the statement wrote.

CTS called upon an emergency discipline committee this afternoon to review this major oversight.

They will also fully cooperate with investigations and express their solemn apologies to the public again.

You can read the full statement here:

Screenshot via CTS's website.

Ministry of Culture apologises

The Ministry of Culture in Taiwan also issued an apology on Apr. 20, and announced that they have asked CTS for a report about the incident.

Screenshot via Taiwan's Ministry of Culture website.

Taiwan's Minister of National Defense Chiu Kuo-cheng said the army responded quickly to verify and debunk the erroneous alerts, The Guardian reported.

According to The Guardian, the fake news alerts were supposed to be shown on May 5 as part of the annual disaster response drills.

For the first time, the city's disaster response drills include war scenarios.

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Top image adapted from jackiera's image on PTT.