Thu, Jul 01, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Cabinet backs up GIO's handling of licenses for KMT-owned media outlets

DON'T BACK DOWN Despite threats of lawsuits based on the plummeting share prices of media companies owned by the pan-blues, the Cabinet says go get 'em

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Cabinet yesterday expressed support for the Government Information Office's (GIO) decision not to renew the operating license of China Television (CTV). CTV has threatened to demand compensation for the decline seen in the company's share price since the GIO announced its decision.

"We support the GIO's handling of the matter 100 percent, as TV and radio frequencies are supposed to be public assets," Cabinet Spokesman Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) said at a press conference yesterday morning after the Cabinet's weekly closed-door meeting.

Chen also called on the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) to put aside "its old and irrational belief" that radio and TV stations owned by the party should continue to obtain their licenses as they did in the period of KMT rule.

"What was deemed legal or natural in the authoritarian era isn't necessarily legal or rational today," Chen said. "Besides, the GIO is handling the matter in accordance with the law."

The KMT owns a 65 percent stake in CTV and has a 10 percent stake in Taiwan Television (TTV). It also owns a majority of shares in the Broadcasting Corporation of China (BCC).

The government owns 47.39 percent of TTV and 75.04 percent of China Television System (CTS). The government's stakes in both companies long predate the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration.

The GIO has requested that the KMT present a plan for the divestiture of the party's stakes in CTV, TTV and BCC before the end of this month and dispose of them before the end of next year.

The Broadcasting and Television Law (廣電法) -- which was passed last December and which integrates 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 -- stipulates that political parties are no longer allowed to manage media outlets.

The legislation also requires that the divestiture of government stakes in government or party-controlled terrestrial TV stations and radio stations must be completed by Dec. 26 next year.

The GIO has announced that terrestrial TTV, CTS and CTV will begin operating under a three-month interim license by the start of next month in order to facilitate the process by which media outlets are to be depoliticized -- and possibly to prepare for a transfer of the channels to public ownership.

During a CTV shareholders' meeting Tuesday morning, investors berated the GIO for issuing the company a temporary license and many shareholders accused the GIO of treating certain companies unfairly for political purposes.

Some said they would file a collective lawsuit against the GIO and GIO Director-General Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) and demand compensation. Others suggested filing a petition with the Control Yuan seeking Lin's impeachment.

CTV General Manager Chiang Feng-chi (江奉琪) said yesterday that the station would study the possibility of requesting compensation for the drop in the company's share price. Chiang made the remark before attending the KMT's weekly Central Standing Committee meeting yesterday morning.

The GIO has also made it clear that it is unlikely that there will be a third review of the BCC's request for a license renewal. The GIO plans to conduct the review next month.

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