Wed, Jun 03, 2009 - Page 4 News List

China Times Group blasts NCC on TV station ruling

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

The China Times Group lashed out at the National Communications Commission (NCC) yesterday over the conditions it imposed when approving the group’s management reshuffle at China Television Co and CTi TV last Wednesday.

The group ran front-page advertisements in two Chinese-language newspapers yesterday, the China Times and Apple Daily, asking the commission to apply the same conditions on other TV stations.

“If the NCC has problems meeting this demand, it should withdraw the ruling, which was a clear abuse of its power,” the ads read.

The ads singled out three NCC members — Wen Hsiao-ling (翁曉玲), Chung Chi-hui (鍾起惠) and National Communications Commission Vice Chairman Chen Jeng-chang (陳正倉) — and said they would be responsible for any consequences of the ruling because they had asked for a hearing on the case and had swayed the other members.

Photos of the three were made to look like those that accompany the National Police Agency’s most wanted list.

The NCC condemned the ad during a press conference yesterday afternoon.

National Communications Commission Chairwoman Bonnie Peng (彭芸) said the commission had been very cautious when it reviewed the group’s application to overhaul the management of the two stations.

CTV was a terrestrial TV channel, while CTi was a cable TV station, she said.

“This case involves a media conglomerate that owns a newspaper and two television services,” she said.

“Academics have had many discussions on whether media ownership should be regulated and whether it should be done loosely or strictly,” she said.

“We welcome discussion that focuses on government policy,” she said. “Using a tactic [like the ad] that is meant to divide the commissioners is immoral. I’ll just use this word, ‘immoral.’”

Peng said the media was both an industry and a public asset, which was why many countries were cautious when handling media issues.

“When Rupert Murdoch, an Australian, wanted to acquire media outlets in the UK and US, both countries held hearings and heard testimony to ensure that the acquisitions would not jeopardize the diversity of public opinion,” Peng said. “The China Times Group ruling was not targeting Mr Tsai Eng-meng (蔡衍明) [the group’s new owner] or his family.”

Peng also dismissed reports in the China Times that she was in the process of writing a dissent criticizing the case.

Reporters from CTV, CTi TV and the Chinese-language Commercial Daily — another member of the China Times Group’s stable — questioned the legality of the conditions set by the commission.

A Commercial Daily reporter tried to read a statement issued by the group’s new management but was reprimanded by other reporters.

In its statement, the commission said it held the hearing in accordance with the Broadcasting and Television Act (廣播電視法), while the conditions it set followed the rules in the Administrative Procedural Act (行政程序法).

“Should the group refuse to accept the conditions, it could file an administrative lawsuit against the National Communications Commission and seek protection from the judicial system,” the statement said.

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