Thu, Feb 01, 2007 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: Solving the riddle of the BCC sale

People who fancy riddles and puzzles should delight in attempting to unravel the Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) sale of the Broadcasting Corporation of China (BCC).

The BCC was sold by the KMT on Dec. 24, 2005, to China Times Group subsidiary Jungli Investment Co (榮麗投資公司) in a package which included two other KMT media outlets, the China Television Co and the Central Motion Picture Corp.

The KMT sealed the deal -- reportedly worth NT$9.3 billion (US$281.6 million) -- just one day before the deadline for political parties and the military to dispose of their media assets.

Then, as critics of the KMT panned the party over the lack of transparency in the deal, the news broke last month that former UFO Radio president Jaw Shaw-kong (趙少康) had bought the BCC shares from Hua Hsia Investment Holding Co (華夏投資公司), which reportedly manages billions of NT dollars in KMT assets.

Jaw's acquisition of BCC raises the question as to why he would buy the controlling stake of the broadcasting firm from Hua Hsia and not from the BCC's owner, Jungli Investment Co.

BCC vice president Lee Chien-jung (李建榮) confirmed that Jaw had purchased the shares from Hua Hsia, but added that Hua Hsia was owned by Jungli Investment.

The dubious relations between Jungli Investment Co and Hua Hsia Investment Holding Co has led many to question whether the two companies and the KMT are still one big family after all.

If this is true, the KMT has broken its promise to pull out of the media industry.

And the fun continues.

Earlier this week, two Democratic Progressive Party lawmakers revealed that the presidents of the four companies that now own BCC all have links to the UFO Network, which is owned by Jaw. While Jaw insisted that the purchase had been carried out in accordance with the law, the news nonetheless raised many eyebrows.

The BCC has refused to shed light on the financial details of the deal, as have Jaw and the KMT.

The furtive behavior of all parties involved in the deal makes one wonder what it is they are trying to hide.

If the whole deal exists in name only, then the KMT has obviously violated the Radio and Television Act (廣電法).

When KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) first assumed the chairmanship in August 2005, the public had high expectations of him as he pledged to handle party affairs with transparency.

If he wants to win the trust of Taiwanese and prove that he is true to his word, it is not too late for him to step forward and explain the financial transaction surrounding the sale of the KMT's three media outlets -- and Jaw's purchase of the BCC -- in detail.

The more one attempts to solve this conundrum, the more questions arise. Meanwhile, the National Communications Commission (NCC) sits idle, failing to uphold its already compromised responsibility of maintaining order in the broadcasting industry.

The NCC should get its act together and examine the details of the BCC deal, which involves issues that pertain to the management of the media, concentration of shares and government-owned radio frequencies.

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