The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is considering filing a joint citizen lawsuit with civic groups against the National Communications Commission (NCC) for refusing to annul a media merger deal that many academics say will create a media monopoly.
DPP Deputy Secretary-General Lee Chun-yi (李俊毅) said yesterday that his party “is studying the feasibility of bringing up a citizen lawsuit together with civic groups after the NCC refused a DPP request to void conditional approval of the deal.”
With three suspension clauses and 25 additional clauses, the NCC on July 25 conditionally approved Want Want China Times Group’s (旺旺中時集團) NT$76 billion (US$2.52 billion) acquisition of the cable TV services owned by Chinese Network Systems (中嘉網路), a deal that many fear would affect as much as one-quarter of Taiwanese households and jeopardize press freedom in Taiwan.
The NCC has made clear that the resolution would be final and it would not void the deal.
NCC Chairman Howard Shyr (石世豪) rejected the DPP’s request to void the deal after meeting with a DPP delegation led by Lee and DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) on Thursday, saying “the case was closed because it was approved with independent and professional consideration.”
The commission reiterated its position on Saturday with a press release issued after a protest of about 6,000 people in Taipei, which called for annulment of the deal and respect for journalistic professionalism, adding that deciding whether current laws should be amended or a new law established would require further discussion.
The DPP previously said it may file a lawsuit against the NCC for corruption and malfeasance if its request were denied. Lee said yesterday that the party and its legal team were still assessing the option.
For now, the DPP is thinking of collaborating with civic groups on a citizen lawsuit, a form of administrative lawsuit seldom used since the citizen suit provision was passed in 1999.
Lee said the DPP’s legislative Caucus would propose an amendment to the Cable Radio and Television Act (有線電視法) to write retroactive anti-monopoly clauses into law.
Civic groups had expressed their wish for an anti-media monopolization law in their meeting with all political parties.