Fri, Apr 26, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Cabinet passes bill to safeguard media autonomy, diversity

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

The Cabinet yesterday approved a draft bill requiring owners of broadcast media to sign an editorial agreement with their news departments to ensure that management does not interfere with the independent operation of news channels or news programs.

Executive Yuan spokesperson Cheng Li-wun (鄭麗文) said the draft of the broadcasting media monopolization prevention and diversity preservation act (廣播電視壟斷防制與多元維護法), a bill that activists have been pushing hard since last year following the controversial proposed acquisition of Next Media by the Want Want China Times Group and others, was among the Cabinet’s priority bills for the current legislative session.

Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) has instructed the National Communications Commission to actively communicate with lawmakers to have the bill passed, Cheng added.

The proposed law will not be retroactive, meaning media outlets whose media acquisition applications had been approved before it is enacted will not be required to comply with the new regulations.

If the bill is passed by the legislature, the commission would have the mandate to ban mergers between print and broadcasting media if such a merger would give them influence over public opinion comparable with a television viewership rate of more than 20 percent.

A merger involving broadcasting media outlets would also be banned if the readership rates of newspapers or weekly magazines owned directly or indirectly by the broadcasting media outlets amounted to more than 10 percent, the bill states.

If a cross-media merger involves news channels or channels airing news programs, the commission could ban the merger if it would create an influence comparable with a TV viewership rate of 15 percent, the draft stated.

It could also ban mergers among terrestrial TV services or the merger of radio services if one of the parties to the proposed merger reaches 75 percent of the nation’s population.

A merger of two radio services would be banned if it would create a listenership rate exceeding 15 percent in a certain area or a national listening rate of more than 10 percent.

Mergers of satellite channels would be banned if they would create a TV viewership rate exceeding 15 percent.

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