Wed, Sep 01, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Lawmakers warn China wants stake in local media

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

TSU Legislator Lin Jhih-long, left, and one of the party's legislative candidates Huang Shih-chuo yesterday hold a press conference, saying that the KMT may damage the nation's security if it sells its party-run media to Chinese-invested companies.

PHOTO: YEH CHIH-MING, TAIPEI TIMES

Beijing is extending its political tentacles into Taiwan's media as the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) is gearing up efforts to dispose of five party-owned media outlets by the year's end, lawmakers warned yesterday.

"It's not a secret but common sense that Beijing has been trying to manipulate some of Taiwan's media by owning their shares," Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) Legislator Lin Chih-lung (林志隆) told a press conference.

"It's a rational suspicion that Beijing may become shareholders of some of the KMT's media outlets as it is desperately trying to selling party assets improperly acquired during its 50-year reign," he said.

The KMT is required by the Broadcasting and Television Law (廣電法) to sell its stakes in China Television (CTV), the Broadcasting Corp of China (BCC), the Central Motion Picture Corp, the Central Daily News and China Daily News by Dec. 26.

The law stipulates that political parties are no longer allowed to manage media outlets and that the government's stake in government or party-controlled terrestrial TV stations and radio stations must be divested before the deadline.

Through the party-run Hua-Hsia Investment Holding Co, the KMT owns a 65 percent stake in CTV and a 96.95-percent stake in BCC, a radio station that occupies 25 percent of the AM frequency stations and 13.96 percent of the FM frequency broadcaster in the country. It also has a 10 percent stake in Taiwan Television (TTV).

Party authorities are hoping to get NT$8 billion (US$US$235 million) by selling the shares in the five companies in a single block offering.

Sycamore Ventures, which once was part of the US-based Citibank Venture Capital, is the highest bidder so far. Citicorp Venture Capital is a subsidiary of Citicorp. The Hong Kong-based Tom.com has also showed interest in the property.

Citing a report by the US-based Jamestown Foundation, Lin said yesterday that China may apply the same approach to Taiwanese media as it does to US-based Chinese media.

The report said that Chinese media operations in the US have seen a dramatic change since the mid-1980s due to an increasing population of Chinese immigrants.

"The influx of [Chinese] piqued concerns of state-run media operations back home, triggering what can now be described as aggressive media efforts in the United States by [Chinese] operations," the report said.

"Indeed, the [Chinese] government has made major inroads into the Chinese media market here over the past decade," it said.

According to the report, four main tactics characterize Beijing's efforts to influence Chinese-language media in the US. The first is its attempt to directly control newspapers, television stations and radio stations through complete ownership or owning major shares.

The second method is the Chinese government's use of economic ties to influence independent media which have business relations with China.

"This leverage has had major effects on the contents of broadcasting and publishing, effectively removing all material deemed `unfavorable' by the Chinese government," the report said.

The third tactic is the purchasing of broadcast time and advertising space from existing independent media. Closely related to this, the report said, is the Chinese government's providing free, ready-to-go programming and content.

The fourth technique listed in the report is the deployment of government personnel to work in independent media, achieving influence from within their ranks.

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