The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) stands in solidarity
with its affiliate, the Association of Taiwan
Journalists (ATJ), and members of Taiwan’s
independent media in demanding that the new owners of Taiwan’s
largest media syndicate, China Times Group, make a public commitment to press
freedom and media independence.
Taiwan’s media regulatory body, the National
Communications Council (NCC), announced a conditional approval on May 27 of the
takeover of the China Times Group by the Want Want Group, after a series of
public hearings. Want Want Group is chaired by Taiwan
businessman Tsai-Eng-ming, who owns a food products conglomerate largely based
On June 12, the owners of the Want Want China Times Group sent legal
notifications to several journalists and office-holders in media rights
organisations threatening to sue them for any critical reporting of the takeover.
Recipients included Media Watch chairman Kuan Chung-Hsiang, ATJ President
Chuang Feng-Chia and Wealth magazine
editor Tien Hsi-Ju.
More than 30 media reform and human rights organisations and more than
400 news media workers in Taiwan have signed a petition, “News media is not the
tool of bosses”, condemning the takeover. The petition also condemns advertisements
published in the group’s flagship newspaper, China Times, accusing the NCC of abuse of power. The advertisements
reportedly included photos of three NCC members in a “most wanted” format.
The NCC’s decision imposed five rulings for conditions of operation of
the Want Want China Times Group. These include reappointing board members of two
major television stations owned by Want Want China Times Group, China
Television Co (CTV) and the Chinese Nationalist Party-operated CTI; assurance
of independence for the board of directors of both TV stations; separate
advertising, sales and programming departments; and the establishment of an
“ethics commission” and regularly published “self-discipline” reports on their
Signatories to the ATJ-led petition voiced concern that the group’s response
to critical commentary and NCC regulation indicated a lack of commitment to
news media professionalism and independence. “The dignity and professional
autonomy of news media employees cannot be sacrificed and news workers cannot
be treated as sales personnel or given orders on what news to report or what to
write,” the petition said.
“The Want Want China Times Group’s attempts to intimidate journalists,
public commentators and NCC personnel call into question its attitude and commitment
to freedom of expression and the value of independent voices in Taiwan,”
IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline
Park said. “The group needs to recognise that the role of an independent media
in a democracy is to provide a diversity of information, news and analysis, and
that media business employees must be able to provide this public good without
fear of intimidation and legal action.”
The IFJ joins the ATJ and petition signatories in calling on the owners
of the Want Want China Times Group not to override the press freedom standards
set by both the NCC and the independent reporting community in Taiwan.
information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919
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