Amid growing fears of monopolization and Chinese influence on local media, the Want Want China Times Group (旺旺中時集團) plans to launch a new magazine next month in cooperation with the Fujian Daily Group, which is affiliated with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
According to Media News Online, which is published by the School of Communications at Ming Chuan University, the first issue of Media Plus (兩岸傳媒), a magazine focusing on cross-strait media and cultural affairs, will be launched in Taiwan next month, with reporters and financing coming from both sides of the Taiwan Strait. The magazine is to be published in traditional characters in Taiwan and simplified characters in China.
A trial issue was published earlier this month to pave the way for the magazine’s official launch, said Wang Cho-chung (王綽中), the periodical’s editor-in-chief.
Last month’s trial issue of Media Plus was sent free to professors of mass communication, journalists and people working in advertising and culturally innovative industries, said Wang, who is also editor-in-chief of the Chinese-language Want Daily — also owned by the Want Want China Times Group.
The two media groups began cooperating in October last year when a pilot journal published under the same Chinese title, but using the name Cross-strait Media in English, was launched.
Media Plus will have 32 people working in four departments. While Wang will serve as the editorial head of the publication, veteran journalist Pan Kang (潘罡) will be the deputy editor-in-chief.
In an effort to supply readers with firsthand information concerning China’s media and cultural industries, the magazine will also have four reporters in China: Lu Su-mei (盧素梅) in Haixi, Qinghai Province; Lin Tsung-sheng (林琮盛) in Beijing; Sung Ting-yi (宋丁儀) in Shanghai and Chen Man-nung (陳曼儂) in Changsha, Hunan Province.
The publication has thus far produced two versions of its trial issue and undergone a name change from Prime Media to Media Plus.
“The title Media Plus represents the publication’s aim of providing its readers with the latest on cross-strait media and cultural industries, as well as conveying the magazine’s content giving ‘plus information,’” Wang said.
However, in addition to “plus information,” readers in Taiwan could be getting a dose of propaganda as well. The Fujian Daily Group, which operates a number of television, radio and print media outlets, has close ties to the CCP and has promoted “reunification” with Taiwan for more than six decades.
There has been growing opposition in Taiwan in recent months to acquisitions by the Want Want China Times Group of various media outlets, including the cable TV operations of China Network Systems (CNS, 中嘉網路) in a NT$76 billion (US$2.52 billion) deal, and the group’s being part of a consortium bidding for the Next Media Group’s Taiwanese outlets. These include Next Magazine and the Apple Daily, long known for its critical stance on the CCP.
Behind the group lies controversial chairman Tsai Eng-meng (蔡衍明), a Taiwan-born billionaire who made his fortune in China. His detractors have accused him of downplaying China’s human rights violations, denying that the events at Tiananmen Square in June 1989 constituted a massacre and of saying that the two sides of the Taiwan Strait could not be “reunited” soon enough.