The International Federation of
Journalists (IFJ) is deeply concerned by the decision of the Republic of China
(Taiwan)’s National Communications Commission (NCC) to approve the expansion of
the services of media giant Want Want China Times Group, in Taipei on July 25,
Want Want China Broadband, a
subsidiary of the Want Want China Times Group, already owns several newspapers,
magazines, and both terrestrial and satellite television stations in Taiwan. It
is reported that the new expansion would see the company purchase an additional
10 cable television companies for TWD 76 billion (approximately USD 2.6 billion),
allowing the company to secure 23 per cent of Taiwan’s market of cable
subscribers. The purchase would enable the company to control one-third of
Taiwan’s media market.
On May 7, the NCC held a hearing to
consider the the WantWant China Times Group’s proposed expansion. During the
hearing, the Group’s Chairperson Tsai Eng-meng indirectly admitted that the
Group had made editorial compromises. According to several local media reports,
Tsai’s media companies have already accepted advertising revenue from the
Mainland without notifying its readers.
On July 25, the NCC approved the
application of the media giant with three conditions. The conditions, as
explained by NCC Chairperson Su Herng, include that the Want Want China Times
Group’s Chairperson Tsai Eng-meng and his family must not be involved in the
management of CTiTV’s news channel and that China Television’s news channel
must amend its operational plan to become a non-news channel.
Taiwan Journalists Association (TJA),
an IFJ affiliate, several civil organizations and journalism scholars have criticised
the NCC’s decision, claiming it could jeopardize press freedom and
diversification in Taiwan.
According to the section 62(1) of
Taiwan’s Budget Act the Government and
its institutions are prevented from making purchasing that jeopardize press
freedom. However no similar regulations exist in other media related
“Although the NCC has imposed
conditions on the approval of the expansion of the Want Want China Times
Group’s media ownership, the decision still raises cause for concern”, IFJ
“Press freedom and democracy in Taiwan
are best served by media pluralism and editorial independence, and it remains
unclear whether this decision works against these forces”.
IFJ urges the Government of Taiwan to
review the NCC’s decision, and amend all relevant media laws to ensure press
freedom and media diversity.
We also urge Taiwan’s media to continue
to exercise oversight over the operations of the Group’s operations in the
further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0950
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