Cabinet can't interfere in media buyouts: Chen
By Ann Yu,The China PostTAIPEI, Taiwan -- In response to student demonstrations against perceived media monopoly, the premier declared yesterday that the Cabinet cannot and will not interfere with media acquisitions due to the independence of the regulatory agencies.
January 4, 2013, 12:02 am TWN
The Youth Alliance Against the Media Monster gathered at Ketagalan Boulevard and Liberty Square on New Year's Day, protesting against the government for the recent possible merger of Want Want China Times and Next Media. Students were highly disappointed by the president's lack of response to related issues of the media group merger proposal.
According to the Executive Yuan, the acquisition of Next Media must be reviewed by two independent agencies — the Fair Trade Commission (FTC) and National Communications Commission (NCC). “Premier Sean Chen believes it is the Executive Yuan's duty to trust and believe in the judgments of these two government bodies, and that they will rule the cases under the regulations of the law,” spokesperson Chen Li-wen said.
In response to the recent distress about the possibility of mainland Chinese investments having shares in the media businesses, Chen cited the Radio and Television Act, saying that those without R.O.C. nationality may not become the owners or shareholders of Taiwanese radio or television business. Although the restrictions of shareholders was stated clearly, Chen said that the political standpoint of the owner was beyond the government's evaluation criteria.
Meanwhile, the Next Media merger deal, which has sparked controversy nationwide, is slated to undergo a review process for the FTC's approval as early as next Wednesday, according to Fair Trade Commission (FTC) Chairman Wu Shiow-ming. Legislators asked that FTC officials speed up the review regarding the business deal, pressing on about the most debated buyer — Want Want China Times Group (旺旺中時集團) Chairman Tsai Eng-meng (蔡衍明).
When asked if Tsai would be obligated to file an application for the FTC's approval, Wu answered that it was highly possible but it had to be agreed on by members of the committee. Since Tsai is a businessman that has close ties with mainland China and also owns television and newspaper outlets of the Want Want media giant, student protesters were angered by Tsai's acquisition of Next.
In response to lawmakers' questions over the possibility of a monopolized media industry, FTC officials answered that it was not likely, stating that the FTC would work toward drafting laws to regulate such occurrences.