Thu, May 15, 2014 - Page 3 News List

Government stakes disqualify Formosa bid for Gala: official

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Formosa Group is banned from purchasing Gala Television as the government owns small shares in four Formosa subsidiaries, the National Communications Commission (NCC) said yesterday.

The commission said that the group had submitted an application to acquire the television station last month. Based on the application, the group had planned to purchase Gala through its subsidiary Formosa Development.

“We looked at the shareholding structure and found that the four main companies in the group — Formosa Plastics, Formosa Petrochemical Corp, Nan Ya Plastics Corp and Formosa Chemical and Fiber Corp — jointly own Formosa Development,” said Chan Yi-lien (詹懿廉), a specialist at the commission’s communication management department. “Among these companies, we found that the government owns stakes of 0.01 percent to 0.03 percent through investments by four major state funds, which would give the government indirect ownership of a media outlet. This is banned under the regulations.”

The Cable Radio and Television Act (有線廣播電視法) stipulates that the government and political parties may not directly or indirectly invest in cable, radio or television systems, regardless of how small the stake is.

Although the commission is in the process of changing this “unreasonable situation” by drafting a new digital convergence act (數位匯流法), Chan said the commission is unlikely to approve the acquisition.

“We have to obey the law and I am afraid that there is no wiggle room,” she said.

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