Wed, Apr 25, 2007 - Page 4 News List

`U paper' accused of being campaign tool

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

U paper, a sister newspaper of the United Daily News distributed in MRT stations, came under attack yesterday as some Taipei City councilors accused it of being a campaign tool of former Taipei mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九).

The paper, which since March is the only publication allowed to be distributed in the 69 MRT stations, brought a revenue of NT$18 million (US$ 540,000) for the United Daily News group thanks to its 20 advertisement pages, the councilors said.

Most of the remaining 20 pages not only failed to report municipal news, but even promoted Ma as a presidential hopeful, they said.

"Taipei Rapid Transit Corporation allowed the paper to monopolize the market in the MRT stations, campaigning for Ma for president with biased news content," Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City Councilor Hsu Chia-chin (徐佳青) told a press conference at Taipei City Council yesterday.

The president of the corporation, Tsai Hui-sheng (蔡輝昇), was a close aide of Ma.

DPP Taipei City Councilor Chou Wei-yu (周威佑) also took the company to task for allowing U paper to set up news stands inside MRT stations this year.

In the past, newspapers targeting MRT passengers could only be distributed outside of MRT stations. The United Daily News group won the bid with NT$140 million this year to distribute its U paper inside stations for the next three years.

The contract allows the paper to distribute more than 50,000 papers each day, but limited its content to "informative news" and promotion of municipal policies.

"The paper carried stories lauding Ma's charisma, while covering little about Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) or municipal events ? Instead of promoting municipal policies, the paper serves as a campaign tool for Ma," Chou said.

Rather than providing useful information for MRT passengers, DPP councilors said the paper increased trash by 20 percent for the company, while accusing the company of being overly focused on profiting through advertising.

In response to the accusations, marketing manager of the corporation Chan Shih-tsung (詹仕聰) said the company will demand the paper reduce its advertisement pages to one-third of its contents, and dedicate two pages to promote municipal policies.

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