Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) yesterday called on President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to scrutinize would-be buyers of Next Media Group’s Taiwanese assets and prevent potential damage to freedom of expression.
Su made the remarks at a press conference attended by all DPP lawmakers.
Next Media, founded by Hong Kong media magnate Jimmy Lai (黎智英), began operating in Taiwan in 2003. The company said it would sell its Taiwanese print and television businesses on Oct. 1 because of reported losses of more than NT$10 billion (US$340 million) in the television sector.
The consortium, led by ChinaTrust Charity Foundation chairman Jeffrey Koo Jr (辜仲諒) is expected to sign a deal with Next Media today to buy the Apple Daily, Next Magazine, Sharp Daily and Next TV for NT$17.5 billion, according to a letter of intent the group signed with the would-be buyers on Oct. 15.
One of the parties in the deal is Want Want China Times Group (旺旺中時集團) chairman Tsai Eng-meng (蔡衍明), who has extensive business holdings in China and owns the China Times.
Some fear that Tsai’s group will become a behemoth dominating Taiwan’s media landscape if the deal goes through.
Su said the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) used political power in the past to suppress freedom of expression and is again using its political power to try to curtail press freedom and freedom of information by collaborating with the consortium.
He demanded that the Fair Trade Commission, Financial Supervisory Commission, and National Communications Commissions adopt strict guidelines in reviewing the case.
Su said that the DPP caucus will present proposals to amend the Radio and Television Act (廣播電視法), the Cable Television Act (有線電視法) and the Satellite Broadcasting Act (衛星廣播電視法) in a bid to prevent a media monopoly.
Additional reporting by CNA