The National Communications Commission (NCC) should host a public hearing regarding a bid by Want Want China Broadband to acquire 11 cable TV services owned by China Network Service (CNS) and the government should amend the law to restrict foreign investment in the cable service market and limit media consolidation, 15 media and legal experts said yesterday.
The Want Want China Broadband is affiliated with the Want Want China Times Group, which owns three Chinese-language daily newspapers, one terrestrial TV network, one satellite TV network and one weekly magazine.
The commission has yet to approve CNS’ application for change of management because of fears it could lead to the concentration of media ownership and restrict freedom of speech.
The case is also controversial because of comments made by Want Want China Times group chairman Tsai Eng-ming (蔡衍明) in an interview in the Washington Post earlier this year.
Tsai was quoted as saying that reports of Tiananmen Square massacre were not true and that reporters need to carefully consider the consequences before they write anything critical even though they have the freedom to do so.
Some of the 15 media and legal experts repeated the call for a public hearing on the case during the meeting with National Communications Commission Chairperson Su Herng (蘇蘅) yesterday.
Su replied that the commission rules by consensus and she could not commit to any form of review unilaterally.
She said she has heard opinions from civic organizations and would bring up their concerns with the commissioners.
Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌), an associate research professor at Academia Sinica’s Institutum Iurisprudentiae, said it was a pity that the commission failed to respond affirmatively to the expert’s call for a public hearing.
He said they are planning to take their appeal to legislators and ask them to host a hearing at the legislature.
He added that they would seek the support of legislators to amend the Cable Television Act (有線廣播電視法) and suggest that the government impose stricter requirements on foreign investment in the cable service market and limit media integration.
Liu Ching-yi (劉靜怡), a professor at National Taiwan University’s Graduate Institute of National Development, said the hearing should be open to any citizen who is concerned about the case.
“If the NCC thinks that the case involves so many complicated issues, why doesn’t it allow the public to participate in the hearing and help the NCC clarify those issues?” she asked.