Fri, Dec 16, 2005 - Page 2 News List

TSU denies Lee behind rumored TV station sale

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Taiwan Solidarity Union's (TSU) legislative caucus yesterday dismissed talk that former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) has instructed a former TSU lawmaker to purchase a government-owned terrestrial TV station.

TSU caucus whip Mark Ho (何敏豪) yesterday said that even though former TSU legislator Wu Tong-sheng (吳東昇) is interested in purchasing Taiwan Television Enterprise Ltd (TTV, 台視), it is Wu's personal interest and has nothing to do with his party.

"Whether Wu intends to buy TTV is a question that we do not have an answer for," Ho said. "The former president is not aware of the deal nor are we. We definitely did not play any part in it."

Ho made the remark in response to a media report claiming that with the approval of Lee, TTV chairman Lai Kuo-chou (賴國洲), who is also Lee's son-in-law, invited Wu to purchase TTV.

Meanwhile, media watch groups yesterday called on the government to make good on its promise to free the media from political, partisan and military influence by the end of the year and privatize two government-owned terrestrial TV stations while turning the other into a public corporation.

Taiwan has one public television station, Public Television Service (PTS, 公視), and four terrestrial TV stations. They are the TTV, Chinese Television System (CTS, 華視), China Television Company (CTV, 中視) and Formosa Television Company (FTV, 民視).

While FTV is a privately run firm, the other three terrestrial stations have very strong partisan ties.

While the government owns 25.64 percent of TTV, it possesses 36.25 percent of CTS. The stakes in both companies long predate the DPP administration.

The Broadcasting and Television Law (廣播電視法), last revised in 2003, stipulates that the government must release its shareholdings in terrestrial TV stations by Dec. 26 this year. The legislature, however, is deadlocked over a draft bill regulating the release of government holdings in terrestrial TV stations.

Speculation is mounting that the Government Information Office (GIO) has not ruled out the possibility of putting TTV and CTS to a trust.

Kuang Chung-hsiang (管中祥), chairman of Media Watch, yesterday said his association was opposed to the alleged plan and called on President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) to put his campaign promise of media reform into practice.

"Slogans are not enough, we want to see some concrete action," Kuang said. "As four GIO heads have promised to push for media reform, we'd like to see at least CTS become a public corporation if the government cannot turn TTV into one -- taking into account the government's financial strain."

Wei Ti (魏玓), convener of the Campaign for Media Reform, said his association would accept the government's plan to turn CTS into a public corporation and to privatize TTV, but it would like to see TTV's programs digitalized and catalogued in the national archives.

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