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Want Want bid to buy CNS rejected by NCC

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- National Communications Commission (NCC) Chairman Howard Shyr (石世豪) said yesterday that Want Want China Times (旺中) failed to meet the three conditions set for the acquisition of China Network Systems Co. (CNS) and thus the acquisition cannot take effect.

The NCC approved the acquisition of CNS last July on the proviso that Want Want separate itself from CtiTV (中天), that China Television Co. (CTV, 中視) change its status to a non-news channel operator, and that the CTV have an edit and review system for televised content that is independent from that of Want Want.

Last December, Want Want sent an application to the NCC saying that it has met the three conditions. The firm entrusted 75 percent of its stake in CtiTV to Industrial Bank of Taiwan (IBT, 台灣工業銀行), in order to meet the condition of separating itself from CtiTV, Shyr said. According to the Trust Law, however, Want Want's handing of the shares to a third party does not change the nature of its ownership of CtiTV.

The NCC has concerns about the independence of the Industrial Bank of Taiwan, based on the trust deed provided by Want Want, Shyr said.

Andy Hsieh (謝煥乾), director of the NCC's legal department, said Want Want can apply again for approval.

NCC Sets Media Integration Restrictions

The NCC announced an anti-monopoly draft for radio and television ownership yesterday. The draft forbids any integration of print media, radio and television outlets if together their ratings total 20 points or more.

The draft contains 53 articles, mainly regulating the combination of cross-media ownership.

Shyr said that the NCC will reject any merger proposal that poses a threat to the diversity of public opinion. He added that the regulations in the draft are laid out in detail to specifically prevent formation of a media monopoly.

According to the draft, an acquisition proposal between media groups has to be made to the NCC in order to ensure the regulatory body has sufficient information on mergers, Shyr said.

The NCC will review merger proposals based on the media outlets' market share or ratings figures to reflect their influence on the market and the public, Shyr said, adding that the commission will forbid acquisitions between news channels if their total audience rating is over 15 points.

Mergers between print media do not fall under the NCC's scope.

According to the draft, radio and television groups will have to provide operational information to the NCC regularly, as the commission will examine the audience ratings and publish an annual report on the communications market.

The NCC will provide the draft of the act to the Executive Yuan, the Legislature, universities' journalism and legal departments, and any group or community concerned about Taiwan's media environment, Shyr said, adding that it will collect opinions from various sectors and take these into consideration when reviewing the draft.

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National Communications Commission (NCC) head Howard Shyr (石世豪) speaks at a press conference at the NCC's headquarters in Taipei, yesterday. Shyr said that Want Want's bid to ...

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