Tsai has also been accused of using his media empire to assail those opposed to his media acquisitions, sparking a series of resignations at his TV and print outlets. If the Next Media deal gets the go-ahead from regulatory agencies, Tsai’s empire could control as much as 45 percent of Taiwan’s print media, a proportion critics say is dangerously high.
Mattel Hsu (許建榮), a doctoral candidate in political science at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, who closely follows media developments in Taiwan, said that while Tsai’s group was not the first to cooperate with official Chinese newspapers, this could be the first time the Chinese government would provide capital toward a publication intended for the Taiwanese market.
Previous cross-strait cooperation in the media sector, such as that between the Greater Kaohsiung-based Commons Daily and the Straits Herald — also part of the Fujian Daily Group — had been limited to the sharing of news sources, Hsu said.
When cooperation between the Commons Daily and the Herald began, the Web site of the formerly pro-independence newspaper was no longer blocked in China, Hsu added.
Inquiries by the Taipei Times to government agencies seem to indicate that Chinese injections of capital in the domestic print media market might fall through the cracks, with one agency after another claiming that regulating print media was not their responsibility.
An official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which absorbed the now-defunct Government Information Office last year, told the Taipei Times that after consulting with staff at the ministry, the consensus was that the Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) was in charge of regulating investment in print media.
However, when approached for comment, FSC Secretary-General Chen Yuh-chang (陳裕璋) said the commission was in charge of supervising banks, insurers, securities and fund houses, and that media firms fall under the jurisdiction of the National Communications Commission (NCC), with the Investment Commission under the Ministry of Economic Affairs perhaps also playing a role if foreign investments are involved.
An Investment Commission spokesman said he had never heard of the publication, which meant the commission was not in charge of reviewing the plan.
Meanwhile, NCC spokesperson Yu Hsiao-cheng (虞孝成) said print media was no longer regulated by the Publication Act (出版法), which was abolished in 1999, adding that the NCC was only in charge of supervising broadcast media.
Under laws guaranteeing freedom of speech, Tsai has every right to publish such a magazine, Yu said.
Additional reporting by Crystal Hsu and Shelley Shan