Academics and Broadcasting Corp of China (BCC) chairman Jaw Shaw-kong (趙少康) yesterday made opposing statements at a public hearing by the Ill-Gotten Party Assets Settlement Committee held to determine whether the BCC is affiliated with the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).
The public hearing also focused on whether the BCC expropriated public assets.
The KMT did not sell the BCC at a fair market price, which resulted in a plethora of law suits surrounding the company, National Taipei University of Technology associate professor of intellectual property law Christy Chiang (江雅綺) said.
The BCC has used its semi-public status to dip into state resources and to skirt broadcasting regulations since its acquisition by the KMT-run Hua Hsia Investment Holding Co (華夏投資公司), Chiang said.
Government spending on advertising through the BCC was a regular item in the government’s budget and the corporation’s capital increased from NT$1 million to NT$900 million (US$33,347 to US$30 million) between 1991 and 2000, she said.
When Jaw and the buyers he represented in 2006 acquired the BCC for NT$1 billion, the company’s total worth — including the value of its media subsidiaries and real-estate holdings — was nearly NT$5.7 billion, she said.
Technically, Jaw and his associates owe former BCC shareholders NT$4.7 billion, she said.
“By contract, mechanisms are in place to secure the payment of debts, but the creditors do not seem interested at all in reclaiming the debt,” she added.
A committee member asked whether the sale of BCC in 2006 breached the Radio and Television Act (廣播電視法), as it included a transfer of broadcast frequencies, which the law said are state-owned.
It is possible that the transaction broke the law, Chiang said.
Government control of broadcast frequencies was meant to override China’s so-called “bandit airwaves,” Fu Jen Catholic University assistant professor of journalism Eve Chiu (邱家宜) said.
While other privately owned broadcasters are heavily regulated, the BCC is permitted to own multiple frequencies, Chiu said, adding that the BCC’s 11 channels account for 68.75 percent of the nation’s total radio frequencies in use.
Although the government allows 200 radio stations to operate, compared with 33 in 1993, most of the new stations have to share frequencies, while the BCC controls three regional networks, she said.
“Although the BCC should be allowed to exist, the frequencies it controls should be reduced for the sake of fairness and sustainability,” she said.
The transaction that saw the BCC change hands was “totally legal” and the corporation has operated within the confines of the Radio and Television Act, Jaw told the committee.
The National Communications Commission has denied his applications to pay money owed to former BCC owners, Jaw added.
“The debtors are interested in getting their money back, but they know that it is out of our hands,” he said.
Jaw denied allegations that the BCC is a KMT-affiliated organization, calling the acquisition he lead “a simple business decision.”
“I am an independent, not a KMT member. Never in my decade of running the BCC have I been accused of being part of the KMT,” he said.
“I was a third party in the buyout deal. I am a victim in this,” he said. “The [now-defunct] Special Investigation Division and the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office each called me three times. My television company’s books were taken from me.”
The broadcaster is under his independent control and free of KMT influence, Jaw said, adding that he sacked the company’s board directors, who were appointed by the KMT’s Central Investment Co.
“Not one program, not one business decision was made under the KMT’s direction or influence,” he said.
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