Protesters from 12 civic groups yesterday voiced their opposition to an attempt by Want Want China Times Group to acquire China Network Systems, gathering outside the National Communications Committee (NCC) in Taipei while a second public hearing on the deal was being held.
Anti News-buying Association deputy convener Ho Tsung-hsun (何宗勳) said the commission was no longer fit to review the deal after three members with expertise in mass communication, law and economics left the committee, leaving only four members with telecommunication and technical know-how to decide the case.
Ho urged Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Hsieh Kuo-liang (謝國樑) to drop a lawsuit against Internet news source Newtalk Web site reporter Lin Chao-i (林朝億) for reporting that Hsieh had tried to pressure the commission into approving the merger.
Ho said Hsieh’s lawsuit was harmful to freed speech.
The groups also urged the commission to block the merger, saying that its approval could have a chilling effect on the media environment and undermine the diversity of opinion offered to the public.
“No other regulator in the world leans toward corporations as much as the NCC does, so we urge the commission to be independent,” said Lin Lih-yun (林麗雲), director of National Taiwan University’s (NTU) Graduate Institute of Journalism.
During the public hearing, all seven academics invited to attend expressed concerns about or clear opposition to the merger.
Jang Show-ling (鄭秀玲), a professor at NTU’s economics department, said according to the principles and calculation methods of German Commission on Concentration in the Media (KEK), a merger should be blocked when a corporation attempts to control more than 30 percent of intermedia influence.
Intermedia influence should also be accumulated, instead of individually calculated from different media platforms, Jang said, adding that Want Want would influence much more than 30 percent of all media if the merger were approved.
NTU Graduate Institute of Journalism professor Chang Chin-hwa (張錦華) said a Control Yuan investigation concluded that the China Times allowed the Chinese government to place news inserts and Chinese corporations to buy advertisements in its newspaper.
Chang said the China Times had also reduced its reporting on human rights violations in China since a previous merger.
“It’s hard to teach journalism students when they see this kind of media environment, in which news can be bought as advertisements,” she said. “The media should set a good example and gain the trust of its audience.”
The academics urged Want Want China Times Group to be more specific on its promise to improve the quality of its content and maintain free speech in the media.
Chen Ping-hong (陳炳宏), a professor at National Taiwan Normal University’s Graduate Institute of Mass Communications, said that while obeying the law was mandatory, this was not enough to ease public concerns about a lack of content diversity.
Want Want China Broadband chairman Tsai Shao-chung (蔡紹中) has repeatedly said that the object of the merger is the “platform” and not “the media,” and that the network systems are not actual content providers.
He said the merger would be a big step ahead for the industry in terms of digitalization and that Want Want would improve the quality of its content by establishing a better digital media environment so content providers could be confident in investing in high-quality programs.
Tsai said plans to increase the rate of media digitalization in Taiwan have been pushed back because the review of the merger has dragged on for almost 10 months.
SELF-RELIANCE: Taiwan would struggle to receive aid in the event of an invasion, so it must prepare to ‘hold its own’ for the first 70 days of a war, a defense expert said Taiwan should strengthen infrastructure, stock up on reserves and step up efforts to encourage Taiwanese to fight against an enemy, legislators and experts said on Tuesday last week. The comments sought to summarize what the nation should learn from the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which has exceeded 300 days, since Feb. 24 last year. Institute of National Defense and Security Research fellow Su Tzu-yun (蘇紫雲) said that the war in Ukraine highlighted the importance of being ready for war. Taiwan’s development of an “asymmetrical warfare” doctrine and extending mandatory conscription to one year is a good start to preparation of defense against a
The Central Epidemic Command Center yesterday said it would delay the lifting of the indoor mask mandate, citing public health considerations and ongoing discussions on how the policy should be implemented. Earlier this week, Centers for Disease Control Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥), who is the CECC’s spokesman, said officials from several ministries were working on the policy and an announcement would be made yesterday. However, Deputy Minister of Health and Welfare Victor Wang (王必勝), who heads the CECC, yesterday said that the policy was still under review. Wang said its implementation would be “delayed slightly” due to three main factors. First, the center
END OF SERIES: As the first generation of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines are set to expire, the CECC would no longer offer them to children younger than four years old The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported the nation’s first case of a person infected with the Omicron XBB.1.5 subvariant of SARS-CoV-2. The Taiwanese man in his 20s arrived from Canada on Jan. 22, said Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Deputy Director-General Philip Lo (羅一鈞), who is deputy head of the CECC’s medical response division. He tested positive after reporting having a runny nose and muscle soreness while in airport quarantine, Lo said. The XBB.1.5 subvariant is the dominant strain in the US, but there is no evidence to suggest that it causes more severe illness than other Omicron subvariants, he said,
NORMALIZING TIES: The delegation led by the KMT’s Johnny Chiang is to meet with British lawmakers, think tanks and business groups to discuss developments A legislative delegation led by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) arrived in the UK yesterday to rally support for Taiwan’s bid to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). Chiang heads the Legislative Yuan’s Taiwan-UK Interparliamentary Amity Association. The delegation also includes KMT legislators Ma Wen-chun (馬文君), Wen Yu-hsia (溫玉霞), Wu Sz-huai (吳斯懷), Sandy Yu (游毓蘭) and Wu I-ding (吳怡玎). The group is to meet with British lawmakers Alicia Kearns, who chairs the British House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee; Tobias Ellwood, who chairs the House Defence Select Committee; and Bob Stewart, who cochairs the