Despite an official invitation from the National Communications Commission (NCC), Want Want China Broadband said this weekend that the chairman of its parent firm, Want Want China Times Group, Tsai Eng-meng (蔡衍明), will not attend today’s public hearing because of concerns that his presence would “blur the focus” of the company’s bid for the 11 cable TV channels owned by China Network Systems (CNS).
The NCC decided last month to hold another public hearing over Want Want’s bid for CNS following one administrative and one public hearing in 2011.
While Tsai was invited to attend today’s hearing, Want Want China Broadband issued a statement he would only participate if the NCC promised to rule on the proposed acquisition within two weeks of the start of the process.
Tsai’s special assistant, Chao Yu-pei (趙育培), said Tsai had been advised by his staff not to attend because the commission had not yet responded positively to the company’s request.
Chao added that as Tsai is merely a shareholder in the deal, any questions directed at him would be largely irrelevant to the hearing itself. Chao said he would represent Tsai at the hearing along with Tsai’s son, Tsai Shao-chung (蔡紹中).
Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌), an assistant research fellow at Academia Sinica who is part of a group of academics opposed to the deal, said they would request that the NCC hold a further administrative hearing and that Tsai should be compelled to attend.
“When lawmakers in the UK -investigated the News of the World phone hacking scandal, both Rupert Murdoch and his son attended the hearing and answered questions from the lawmakers,” Huang said.
“People have questioned if Tsai [Eng-meng] is qualified to run a media company after his comments to the Washington Post [in an interview in January] as well as other controversies. He wants the commission to quickly rule on the case, yet he did not attend the public hearing to clarify those doubts. His motivation and his actions were very questionable,” Huang said.