Wed, Jan 04, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Legislators pass media reform bill

GREEN LIGHT With the passage of the legislation, a committee will now be set up to monitor the release of state holdings in terrestrial TV stations

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

A bill regulating the release of government holdings in terrestrial TV stations was passed at the legislature yesterday, pushing forward the administration's bid to free the media from political, partisan and military influences.

After eight rounds of cross-party negotiations, the legislature yesterday finally gave the go-ahead to the Statute Regarding the Disposition of Government Shareholdings in the Terrestrial Television Industry (無線電視事業公股處理條例).

Legislators did not to enshrine controversial clauses in the law, instead attaching four resolutions.

The resolutions support the development of a public radio and television group. Secondly, they support the group establishing a station in the south of the nation five years after the law takes effect. The group will be regulated by the Public Television Law (公共電視法).

Another resolution says the Ministry of National Defense must handle the dispute over the military-affiliated Liming Foundation in accordance with the law and take into consideration a report by the Control Yuan. The report says that the assets of the foundation, which owns 25 percent of the Chinese Television System (CTS), belong to the government.

Lawmakers agreed to reserve six seats for the pan-blue alliance of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and People First Party (PFP) in a committee established under the law to review and supervise the release of public holdings in terrestrial TV stations.

Under the law, the 17-member committee must be formed 20 days after the law takes effect.

The vice premier will serve as the committee convener, while four members will be government representatives, one will come from the terrestrial TV union and the remaining 11 committee members will be recommended by parties in proportion to the seats each has in the legislature.

As soon as the government decides to turn a terrestrial TV station into a public corporation, it must earmark a budget to purchase the public holdings of the station.

Station employees must notify the firm of their intention to stay or leave 30 days after the public holdings are sold. Those who choose to leave must receive severance in accordance with the Labor Standards Law (勞基法).

Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) caucus whip Mark Ho (何敏豪) yesterday hailed the passage of the law, but criticized the attached riders as being "unsatisfactory."

"In a bid to make more room for media reform in the future, we `tearfully' make concessions to the irrational demands of the pan-blue camp," Ho said after the bill passed.

Ho said that since the Liming Foundation is a national asset, his caucus hopes to see the defense ministry ask the foundation to return its CTS holdings to the state and then dissolve the foundation.

As the foundation's board is scheduled to meet on Jan. 12, TSU Legislator Lo Chih-ming (羅志明) called on KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to ask the foundation's board of directors, most of whom are KMT or PFP members, to hand over the foundation's CTS holdings to the state.

In a bid to narrow the information gap between the north and south, Lo said the CTS must relocate to the south as soon as it becomes a public corporation.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus whip William Lai (賴清德) said the passage of the law signifies the success of the administration's media reform and proves that the DPP is genuinely dedicated to reform.

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