Taiwan Broadcasting System Group’s (TBS) board members recently blocked a proposal from Eric Yao (姚仁祿) to turn the China Television Service (CTS, 華視) building into a theme hotel on the grounds that the board should recuse themselves from such matters to avoid potential conflicts of interests.
TBS, the nation’s only public media group, was founded in July 2006 through cooperation between the Public Television Service (PTS) and CTS, with the PTS board taking a leading role in the group.
CTS, founded 43 years ago, has a total of NT$1.6 billion (US$51 million) in debt and, in an attempt to turn things around, established a task force whose members included executives Yao, Shaw Yu-ming (邵玉銘), Stan Shih (施振榮) and Tung Tsu-hsien (童子賢).
Yao, heading the task force, recently came up with a five-year plan to make the New CTS Media Center, which would entail removing CTS’ current Filming and Wenhua buildings and the construction of the Central Plaza and New CTS buildings. The former CTS Building would have been repurposed into a film and sound theme hotel called the New Media Hotel.
If constructed, it is hoped the hotel would ameliorate CTS’ NT$200 million budget annual deficit, Yao said, adding that he hoped to sign a five-decade contract for the hotel to provide stable long-term income for the company.
According to the proposal, income from the revitalization of CTS assets would not go toward relieving the debts, but rather into future media investments, and an asset management company would be founded to look after park assets, which are estimated to be worth more than NT$20 billion.
The proposal was originally slated to be an internal assessment project report that required further deliberation by CTS board members before being forwarded to the PTS board. However, at a CTS board meeting last month, the proposal was immediately deliberated on and approved in less than 19 minutes.
Had it cleared the March 19 meeting of the PTS board, construction was to have begun before the current board members’ terms were ended in June next year.
The PTS board, which felt the change of meeting protocol might give rise to procedural problems, dropped discussion of the proposal and said the issue could be discussed next month after another review by the CTS board, which was scheduled for Thursday last week.
At the Thursday CTS board meeting, one member, who said that the project involved a substantial sum of money, said the board should recuse itself.
Yao responded that he was personally paying for all of the plans.
“I intend only to help broaden the sources of revenue for CTS,” Yao said.
The proposed five-year project would not require source funding, selling of land or any joint ventures, Yao said, adding that CTS would shoulder planning costs while Shih’s National Culture and Arts Foundation would fund construction of the New CTS Building before renting space back to CTS for offices.
Yao added that the project sought to remove corporate interests by placing various limitations on endorsements and land ownership.
Due to a lack of clarity on certain details and opposition to the project by members of the CTS board, the meeting was concluded with the annulment of its previous decision to approve the project, with discussion on the proposal awaiting further information from Shih’s foundation.
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