Sat, Feb 28, 2009 - Page 4 News List

NCC weighs media monopoly

REGULATION The media watchdog expressed concern about the effects that the integration of print and television media ownership might have on public opinion

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

With the Chinese-language newspapers Apple Daily and China Times poised to branch out into the field of television, the National Communications Commission (NCC) said yesterday that it would strive to prevent media enterprises from monopolizing news sources.

Jimmy Lai (黎智英), founder of Next Media, which owns the Apple Daily, said in a recent interview in the Wall Street Journal Asia that he was planning to spend US$200 million to launch two cable news channels. Last year, Want Want China Holdings Ltd chairman Tsai Eng-meng (蔡衍明) bought the China Times Group, which includes the China Times and Commercial Times dailies and the China Times Weekly magazine, as well as CTI TV and China Television (中視).

NCC commissioner Chung Chi-huey (鍾啟惠) said the media watchdog had taken note of the latest changes in media ownership and was particularly concerned about how the integration of print and television media might affect public opinion.

Chung said that while the NCC still had to discuss the issue and had not yet reviewed any specific case, the commission plans to scrutinize media ownership and its impact on society to help it deal with cases that might arise this year.

She said that although the US Federal Communications Commission lifted the nation’s ban on media integration 12 years ago, it has since ruled on some large cases, including the merger of AOL and Time Warner in 2000.

Some level of regulation was necessary, Chung said.

“How the technology of digital convergence is used should be examined in the social and historical contexts of the nation,” she said at a press conference yesterday on the amendment of the Satellite Radio and Television Act (衛星廣播電視法).

Commissioner Weng Hsiao-ling (翁曉玲) said that while the NCC had considered issues related to the integration of media ownership when it was working on amendments to the Satellite Radio and Television Act, it was such an involved issue that the commission had been unable to include the relevant regulations in the current amendment.

Weng said media ownership regulations may be added in a future second amendment to the Satellite Radio and Television Act, and would be included in the Broadcasting and Television Act (廣播電視法), which is in the process of being amended.

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