Media experts yesterday urged the National Communications Commission (NCC) to quickly formulate temporary rules to regulate cross-media ownership as public concern over the creation of a media monopoly mounts.
National Chung Cheng University communications professor Lo Shih-hung (羅世宏) said that such rules were necessary before the commission engages in a more comprehensive amendment of media laws.
“I think the commission can absolutely do it [draft temporary rules], and there is an urgency for them to do so as well,” Lo said.
Lo and other media experts presented their proposal for anti-media monopoly regulations in a panel discussion yesterday, which they drafted by examining regulations in other countries.
Their proposal would ban companies with cable TV services from owning and managing national daily newspapers, as well as news and finance TV channels.
Financial holding firms would also be barred from owning licenses for both terrestrial TV services and cable TV services. Shareholders in a daily newspaper would not be able to have broadcasting licenses.
Some of the experts also suggested that the commission refrain from granting conditional approval to cross-media ownership.
“If any case can be permitted by granting a conditional approval, then every case could be approved,” Academia Sinica research fellow Shih Jun-ji (施俊吉) said.
Prior to the panel discussion yesterday, legislators accused NCC Chairperson Howard Shyr (石世豪) of refusing to commit to the formulation of a law specifically regulating cross-media ownership.
However, former NCC commissioner Weng Hsiao-ling (翁曉玲) said that whether the commission should enact a specific law or add anti-media monopoly articles to existing media regulations was beside the point.
“The most important thing is that the commission be given adequate administrative authority to regulate and investigate [cross-media ownership],” she said.
However, Weng said it would be too late if the commission decided to incorporate the anti media-monopoly articles in its second amendment of the media regulations, which is scheduled for completion in 2014.
She said the relevant articles should be included in the amendment of media regulations that is currently under review at the Legislative Yuan.
The problems resulting from media concentration have become a hotly debate issue after the commission conditionally approved Want Want China Times Group’s purchase of cable TV services owned by China Network Systems in July.
The Want Want China Times Group owns daily newspapers, TV stations and a magazine.
The commission’s decision prompted thousands to join an anti-media monopoly rally earlier this month, with protesters demanding that the commission quickly draft an anti-media monopoly law.
The need for such a law intensified after media reported Fubon Group and China Trust Group have shown interest in buying the Chinese-language "Apple Daily," "Sharp Daily" and "Next Magazine" from the Next Media Group.