KMT puts brakes on anti-monopoly bills
By Enru Lin, The China PostTAIPEI, Taiwan -- Kuomintang (KMT) lawmakers yesterday withdrew their support for the main opposition party's package of anti-media monopolization bills.
January 12, 2013, 12:00 am TWN
The Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) bills forbid financial holding companies from investing in media; limit cross-media share holding; and require satellite TV channels to maintain an independent board director to ensure media freedom.
The bills package sailed through its first reading in the bipartisan Transportation Committee on Wednesday. In later cross-party negotiations, KMT and DPP lawmakers reportedly agreed to conduct second and third readings on the media draft amendments during Friday's session.
Plans came to a quick halt early in yesterday's session, however, when the DPP caucus initiated a vote to move up the media bills in the deliberation schedule. The motion was defeated 59 to 44 by members of the KMT caucus, which holds 64 of Legislature's 113 seats.
On the floor, opposition party lawmakers accused the KMT caucus of having a “one-night stand with the anti-monopoly bills” and called the ruling party a “fraud ring.”
The KMT caucus denied claims that they were plotting to avoid the bill. At the request of ruling lawmakers, the plenary session recessed for closed-door cross-party negotiations over the schedule of proceedings.
Cross-party negotiations resolved that the draft amendments would remain on the schedule as items eight, nine and 10, which means their second and third readings will take place Monday afternoon at the soonest.
The KMT's move was a sudden about-face, the DPP caucus said. Just days ago, KMT caucus whip Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇) had said that ruling lawmakers stood with the opposition party against media monopolization, said DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘).
After the plenary session, Ker renewed the call for participants in the party's Sunday street protest.
Later yesterday, the Legislative Yuan received a visit from angry students of the Youth Alliance Against the Media Monster (反媒體巨獸青年), who have staged a recent series of protests against the Next Media-Want Want merger.
Students met with Wu Yu-sheng for 10 minutes, asking that Wu apologize and cutting him off repeatedly. Wu did not offer an apology, but stressed that the DPP proposal is imperfect.
One day before the KMT's turnaround, the National Communications Commission (NCC) had opened an impromptu press conference to announce that the DPP-sponsored package was “impracticable,” “draconian” and would create “the worst possible outcome.”
Yesterday, DPP caucus whip Tsai Chi-chang (蔡其昌) called for the resignation of NCC Chairman Howard Shyr (石世豪).
According to Tsai, Shyr deliberately hid his objections to the proposal. When Shyr appeared at Wednesday's Transportation Committee meeting, DPP lawmakers had asked repeatedly for his views on the draft amendments. Shyr demurred, saying that he respects the Legislative Yuan's deliberations.
“He's the most depraved NCC chief in history and must step down,” said Tsai yesterday.