Thu, May 29, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Cabinet passes its new proposals for media law

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

In a bid to realize President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) call to free the media from political influence, the Cabinet yesterday approved its own version of the broadcasting and television law (廣電法).

The DPP legislative caucus proposed similar legislation last year that passed the first reading in December but failed to win the support of the KMT and TSU during subsequent cross-party negotiations.

There are other versions of the legislation, and the legislative caucuses have agreed to put all of them to a vote at a plenary session if cross-party negotiations fail to reach a consensus.

Cabinet Spokesman Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) said that the legislation, if approved by the legislature, would mark a milestone in the development of the nation's telecommunications and mass communication industries.

"The amendments were made in accordance with the trends of information technology platforms: convergence, globalization and deregulation," Lin said.

The draft would integrate three existing laws, the Terrestrial Radio and Television Law of 1976, the Cable Radio and Television Law of 1993 and the Satellite Radio and Television Law of 1999.

According to Hung Chiang-chuan (洪瓊娟), deputy director-general of the Government Information Office, the draft would ban certain civil servants and political party members from owning, funding or assuming certain key positions in the media.

The positions are founder, member of the board of directors, supervisor or manager.

Elected civil servants and political party members owning media outlets would have to forsake their stakes six months after the law takes effect.

Family members of party members or elected civil servants would be banned from owning more than a 10 percent stake in a media outlet.

Foreigners, including Chinese nationals, would be prohibited from investing and assuming such positions as founder, shareholder, fund donator, member of the board of directors or supervisor in terrestrial television stations.

Foreign investment in the cable television station market would be limited to a 50 percent stake, the same as for ownership of satellite television stations.

To ensure Hakka and Aboriginal languages and cultures, authorities would be allowed to designate certain cable media service providers to broadcast Hakka- and Aboriginal-language programs free of charge.

Cable-service providers should propose their monthly service fee for the year on Aug. 1 for ratification by the authorities.

Authorities should review the performance of service providers once every three years, while the operation license is renewed every six to nine years, according to the proposed legislation.

The draft will proceed to the legislature for further review and final approval.

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