Civic groups advocating media reform yesterday urged the public, journalists and others working in the media to take part in a march on Saturday against media monopoly.
“The Want Want China Times Group is trying to become the largest media group in Taiwan, one that not only owns the channels, but also the system provider and different media outlets — this is not good for Taiwan’s democracy,” Association of Taiwan Journalists chairwoman Chen Hsiao-yi (陳曉宜) said.
She was referring to the Want Want China Times Group’s planned acquisition of cable television services owned by China Network Systems. The purchase has raised concerns that the firm would command a media monopoly.
The march, endorsed by groups such as the Campaign for Media Reform and the Anti-Media Monster Youth Alliance, is set to start at 2pm in front of Want Want China Times Media Group headquarters on Bangka Boulevard (艋舺大道) in Taipei and will end in front of the National Communications Commission (NCC) headquarters on Renai Road.
The media reform activists yesterday also urged the NCC to launch a probe into the Want Want China Times Group, after it admitted yesterday that an academic that it previously implied was behind a scandal has nothing to do with the matter.
Media outlets under the Want Want China Times Group, including the China Times newspaper, the China Times Weekly magazine, and the CtiTV news channel, had printed or aired reports implying that Academia Sinica research fellow Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌) paid students money to take part in a protest against the proposed merger.
The group released a statement yesterday that said after an investigation, Huang was found to have no connection with the alleged case.
However, it denied claims from the public and Next Media Group that Want Want Group had created the story on its own.
“The fact that Want Want China Times Group filed false news reports has breached the public’s trust in the media. It’s especially frightening that the group may grow larger with its merger plans,” Citizens for Media Reform representative Yeh Ta-hua (葉大華) said. “We hereby urge the commission to launch a probe into the incident.”
She also called on the commission to propose legislation to prevent media monopolies and protect market diversity.