The National Communications Commission (NCC) yesterday said it would invite Want Want Group chairman Tsai Eng-meng (蔡衍明) and his son, Want Want China Broadband chairman Tsai Shao-chung (蔡紹中), as well as China Network System (CNS) chief executive Chuck McElroy, to a two-day interview regarding Want Want Group’s bid for 11 cable TV services owned by CNS.
NCC acting spokesperson Wong Po-tsung (翁柏宗) said the top--ranking management team were scheduled to be interviewed by NCC staff handling the case today.
“The commissioners still have issues they want to clarify with the two parties involved in the bid, so they wanted to invite those who are actually in charge of the operations in these two groups to come for an interview,” Wong said.
Asked what the issues were, Wong said the commissioners wanted to find out more about Want Want’s plan to offer digital cable TV services and other related issues.
The commission has had already held one administrative hearing and two public hearings over the Want Want-CNS bid, because it involves the merger of one of the nation’s most influential media groups and the second-largest multiple cable service owner.
Earlier this month, NCC Chairperson Su Herng (蘇蘅) said the commission would “definitely” review the case before the end of this month, when she and four other NCC commissioners are set to step down.
However, she added that the commissioners may not be able to make a final decision on the deal within that timeframe.
Meanwhile, Tsai Eng-meng said in a statement that the bid was a “completely legal transaction.”
He said the group filed an application for to take over the company in accordance with the law and that the NCC was not granting special favors to Want Want China Times Group.
“We ask the NCC to support us in taking the cable TV service market back from the hands of foreign investors,” he said.
Tsai said he would be willing to give up his shares in CNS if he used the media firm to do anything to hurt Taiwanese, adding that his shares could be purchased by a government-appointed third party.
Tsai’s special assistant, Chao Yu-pei (趙育培), said the statement was not issued to pressure the commission into ruling on the case, adding that the group hoped the commission could review the transaction as an investment by the group in the digital cable TV market.
Chao said that Tsai Eng-meng loves Taiwan and will not stop investing in the nation because of the case, whether the deal secures approval from the commission or not.
Some media experts have questioned whether Tsai Eng-meng is qualified to manage media after he was quoted in an interview with the Washington Post saying he did not believe that the reports about the Tiananmen Square massacre were true.
They are also concerned that the concentration of media ownership could hurt freedom of expression in Taiwan.
The deal could enable CNS to monopolize the cable television service market as it could prevent channels owned by its competitors from being included in the cable services it offers to its consumers, some critics have said.