Political parties yesterday launched a joint effort to regulate cross-media ownership, calling for measures that would bar firms that own more than 10 percent of the shares in newspapers ot TV or radio stations from operating cable TV services or holding more than 10 percent of the shares in cable TV service providers.
The amendment to the Cable Television Act (有線廣播電視法), proposed by lawmakers from the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU), seeks to prevent any media outlet from monopolizing the sector.
The cross-media ownership case that has garnered most media attention recently is the Want Want Group’s bid to acquire the cable TV services owned by China Network Systems (CNS).
The proposed amendment was discussed at a public hearing by the legislature’s Transportation Committee, attended by National Communications Commission (NCC) Chairperson Su Herng (蘇蘅), media experts and lawmakers.
The bill was also supported by lawmakers who had initially been neutral on the CNS bid, including KMT Legislator Lo Shu-lei (羅淑蕾).
Luo said she was opposing the deal after seeing what Want Want had done to DPP Legislator Yeh Yi-jin (葉宜津), who convened a special session on the cross-media -acquisition at the legislature on Monday.
Despite an official invitation, Want Want Group chairman Tsai Eng-meng (蔡衍明) did not attend the committee meeting on Monday, sending his special assistant, Chao Yu-pei (趙育培), to represent him instead.
However, Yeh barred Chao from speaking because Tsai did not send any official notification informing the legislature that Chao would be his representative.
Following Yeh’s action, CtiTV, a subsidiary of Want Want China Times Group, assailed Yeh and accused her of having double standards.
A CtiTV report, which was aired three days in a row, said Yeh hated China, despite the fact that her husband had obtained an MBA degree in China.
“I came here to show my support for Yeh, even though I don’t like her very much sometimes,” Lo said. “I did not know how horrible it [cross-media acquisition] could be, but now I know.”
Lo said one should not underestimate the power of people who control the cable TV system.
She said the Yeh incident showed that powerful media could destroy anyone who holds a different opinion, using every means possible.
“What happened to Yeh could happen to other legislators or other experts,” she said.
“Let me tell you, chairman Tsai, whoever at Cti proposed the idea [of targeting Yeh] was putting you in an unfavorable position ... Any person can buy [CNS], but not Want Want Group,” she added.