Concerns for Media Diversity and Workers’ Rights in Taiwan

The International Federation of Journalists

(IFJ) shares the serious concerns of its affiliate, the Association of Taiwan

Journalists (ATJ), over threats to media diversity and basic working rights of media

personnel, after the sale was announced of several major newspapers, magazine

publications, and television stations in the country.


The ATJ has raised concerns about the impact that

the sale of Next Media Group’s assets could have for media diversity and the potential

negative impact on press freedom.

Taiwan’s media reported in mid-October that Hong Kong businessman and media

mogul Jimmy Lai planned to sell his Taiwan-based print and television assets to

a group of bidders including Jeffrey Koo, the chairman of Chinatrust Charity

Foundation, William Wong, chairman of the Formosa Plastics Group (FPG), and a

Singapore-based private equity fund. 

This sale to the consortium of investors for approximately US$600 million was formally

revealed by all the parties concerned, on October 18.

The deal, which includes the sale of Taiwan’s Chinese-language newspapers,

Apple Daily, Sharp Daily, as well as Next Magazine and Next TV, will result in

the full withdrawal of the Next Media Group from the Taiwan market, after 13


Apple Daily is one of the most widely circulated newspapers in Taiwan, with

over two million readers. It has been critical of the Communist Party regime in

the Peoples’ Republic of China (PRC) and has held an independent editorial

stance toward Taiwan’s Chinese Nationalist Party government and all other

political forces in Taiwan.

Taiwan’s Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) and the National Communications

Commission (NCC) announced plans to investigate the intended purchase of Next

Media by Koo and other investors on October 19.

Both Chinatrust Financial Holding Company and FPG are reported to have major

business holdings in China.
Though PRC investment in Taiwan’s print, broadcast and television media is

banned, its influence in the Taiwan media has grown dramatically in recent

years, through investment by favourably disposed investors and the extensive

use of so-called ”embedded advertising” or ”paid news” purchases.
“We share the concerns of our affiliate that the sales of media outlets in

Taiwan have the potential to enormously affect its media landscape, and look forward

to an independent enquiry establishing the potential outcomes on concentration

of ownership in the country” said the IFJ Asia Pacific.

In the wake of the announcements, the ATJ, which has no organisational

affiliation with Apple Daily’s newly- formed union, has provided its support to

the union and its workers.

The ATJ affirmed the legal right of the union to engage in collective

bargaining with the new owners, to ensure working rights and editorial

autonomy, and has encouraged Apple Daily employees to unite to protect their

working rights and professional and editorial autonomy.

The Apple Daily union reportedly represents around 1,300 employees. Efforts are

also now reportedly underway among Next TV employees to form their own labour


 “We join the ATJ in calling on the Taiwan government to guarantee that

the new owners respect the union’s legal standing to represent Apple Daily

employees in collective bargaining processes. We also call on the government of

Taiwan to ensure that editorial independence and workers’ rights are protected

under new ownership” said the IFJ Asia Pacific.

The IFJ also reported earlier in the year on its concerns for Taiwan’s press

freedom, as the decision of the country’s National Communications Commission

(NCC) to approve the expansion of the services of media giant Want Want China

Times Group, was announced.

The Next Media Group sales follow protests in Taiwan against media monopolisation

where approximately 10,000 people joined a September 1 demonstration organised

by the ATJ and other media reform organisations, in the wake of the NCC

The ATJ believes that the cases of the Want Want China Times Group and the Next

Group highlight the need for clearer legislation to restrict cross-sectoral

media monopolies, and calls  for the

establishment of a regulatory framework for the purchase of news media by

conglomerates or financial holding companies that can ensure worker rights and

editorial autonomy, professionalism and social responsibility.

“Diversity of media ownership, plurality and editorial independence are

integral to democracy and Taiwan’s media must be supported by authorities to

fulfil its democratic role, regardless of ownership” said the IFJ Asia Pacific.


further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0918


The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131



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