Academics and legislators yesterday urged the National Communications Commission (NCC) to hold more public hearings on the review of a proposed merger between Want Want Group and China Network Systems (CNS), and asked group chairman Tsai Eng-meng (蔡衍明) to clarify questions about the concentration of media power and media abuse.
At a press conference held by the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) caucus, commission officials were asked to answer questions on the current status of a review of the proposed merger of Want Want Group and CNS, a merger that has been publicly opposed by several academics and civic groups for fear that a media monopoly would be created.
Taipei Society director Huang Kuo-chang’s (黃國昌) asked about a rumor among media service providers that the merger was scheduled to be approved before July, but commission Business Management Department director Chen Kuo-long (陳國龍) said: “I’ve never heard of that or know anything about it.”
Huang said media reports have suggested that China’s Taiwan Affairs Office has interfered with the management of Want Want Group’s personnel and he encouraged the commission to look into the matter to determine if the rumor has any foundation.
Chang Chin-hwa (張錦華), a professor at National Taiwan University’s Graduate Institute of Journalism, said the merger shows that the regulations are ambiguous when it comes to preventing a media monopoly and the commission’s legal authority is not specific enough.
Chang urged the commission to protect media diversity by amending related regulations so that social resources would not be wasted on the review of such mergers in the future.
Jang Show-ling (鄭秀玲), a professor of economics at the university, said the commission’s own formula shows the media concentration index of the group would be 140 percent if the merger was approved, much higher than the limit of 30 percent used in Germany.
Jang said about 10 public hearings were held before the attempted purchase of T-Mobile USA by AT&T before the merger bid was withdrawn, so the commission should hold more than just the two hearings already held to clarify all the controversies before making a final decision.
TSU caucus whip Hsu Chung-hsin (許忠信) said the commission should examine the investors in detail to determine if any of the money in the proposed merger is coming from China.
Hsu also said the commission should hold a public hearing and ask that the customers, other stakeholders and Tsai all attend.
Kao Fu-yao (高福堯), director of the commission’s Legal Affairs Department, told the press conference that the commission makes all its decisions through a collegiate system, and he would take all the suggestions back to the commission for discussion.
He promised that the commission would review the proposed merger according to the law.