FAPA Expresses Deep Concern About Erosion Of Press Freedom In Taiwan

Next Media sale leading to virtual Want Want China Times monopoly

The Washington, D.C.-based Formosan Association for Public Affairs today expresses its deep concern about the erosion of press freedom in Taiwan caused by the takeover of the Next Media (Taiwan) group by a consortium in which pro-PRC magnate Tsai Eng-men has a controlling interest.

Tsai, the Chairman of Want Want Group, is well known for his dismissive towards the 1989 Tiananmen Incident, mostly recently telling the Washington Post in February of 2012 that “not that many people could really have died” during the famous pro-democracy protests in Beijing.  Following his 2008 purchase of China Times, many editors and reporters at the Taiwanese daily were reportedly asked to leave their posts—particularly ones who had written stories critical of the PRC government.

In mid-October 2012 Hong Kong-based Next Media announced a preliminary agreement to sell its four Taiwan media outlets—the Apple Daily, the Sharp Daily, Next Magazine and Next TV—to a consortium headed by Chinatrust Charity Foundation chairman Jeffrey Koo Jr.  However, Taiwan’s Wealth Magazine reported on 7 November 2012 that in fact over half of the purchase money would be coming from Tsai’s Want Want Group, causing a public uproar in Taiwan and prompting legislators, press freedom organizations, and the Democratic Progressive Party to urge the National Communications Commission to block the sale.

In a formal complaint filed on 19 November 2012 to the Executive Yuan (Taiwan’s Cabinet), the Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC), the Fair Trade Commission, the National Communications Commission (NCC) and the Council for Labor Affairs, the Association of Taiwan Journalists (ATJ) together with the associated Taiwan News Media Industrial Union raised concerns that the sale could potentially violate laws relating to the separation of finance and industry.

The acquisition of Next Media (Taiwan) by Want Want / China Times would tip the Group’s control over the print news industry to nearly 50%, a degree of concentration that could violate the anti-monopoly and fair competition stipulations of the Fair Trade Law, as well as the three laws regulating wireless television, cable and satellite and the broadcasting and radio industries, according to ATJ’s formal complaint.

In spite of broad public opposition, the deal was finalized on 28 November 2012 for approximately US$ 600 million.  The transaction now awaits official approval by Next Media’s shareholders and Taiwan’s media regulators, the Fair Trade Commission (FTC) and the National Communications Commission (NCC).

In response to the sale, FAPA President Dr. Mark Kao states that “regrettably this development is part of a wider pattern of eroding press freedoms that we have observed, beginning in 2008 when President Ma Ying-jeou came to power.  The KMT government’s tendency to accommodate the PRC, at the expense of protecting free expression in Taiwan, is deeply troubling.”

He adds: “The sale puts some 50% of Taiwan’s media outlets in the hands of one single owner, one who has shown a total disregard for editorial independence.  Mr. Tsai Eng-men’s Want Want China Times has also been the main vehicle for the creeping influence of pro-PRC interests and opinions in Taiwan, which became very obvious during the January 2012 presidential elections.”

Dr. Kao concludes: “We call on Taiwan’s government and media regulators to disallow the sale, and find a solution that respects media diversity in Taiwan, in keeping with the values of freedom and democracy that we have worked so hard to achieve.  We, as Taiwanese-Americans in the United States, will certainly bring this issue to the attention of Congress and the US government.”

FAPA表示深度關切受到侵蝕的台灣新聞自由

旺中併購壹傳媒實為媒體壟斷

針對親中派財團大亨蔡衍明持有控股權益收購壹傳媒,導致台灣新聞自由受到侵蝕,台灣人公共事務會(Formosan Association for Public Affairs, 簡稱FAPA)今日表示深度關切。

旺旺集團董事長蔡衍明最顯為人知的是他對1989天安門事件的輕蔑表態,他在2012年2月接受華盛頓郵報專訪時,表示那場北京的民運抗爭中沒死那麼多人。而於2008年收購中國時報,許多編輯與記者們遭到資遣,特別是那些撰寫批評中國政府的報導。

2012年10月中旬,香港壹傳媒發佈初步協定,售出旗下的蘋果日報、爽報、壹週刊 、壹電視等台灣四家媒體予中國信託慈善基金會董事長辜仲諒,然而2012年11月7日台灣財訊報導指出,有一半以上的收購金事實上來自蔡衍明的旺旺集團,此消息造成台灣輿論界一片嘩然,同時促使許多立委、新聞自由組織、民進黨等團體催促國家通訊傳播委員會力阻併購案。

2012年11月19日,台灣新聞記者協會(ATJ)與相關台灣新聞媒體產業聯盟聯手正式控訴行政院、金融監督管理委員會(FSC)、公平交易委員會(FTC)、國家通訊傳播委員會(NCC)與勞工委員會,並提出此併購案可能因「 產金分離」 政策而違法的擔憂。

根據台灣新聞記者協會的正式控訴,旺中集團收購台灣壹傳媒後,將掌控近50%的平面媒體,這個過度掌控媒體可能違背公平交易法與廣電三法(有線廣播電視法、衛星廣播電視法及廣播電視法 )的反壟斷與公平競爭原則。

儘管大眾反聲不斷,旺中集團收購台灣壹傳媒交易仍於2012年11月28日以六億元美金完成簽約,目前需等候壹傳媒股東和台灣媒體監管單位–公平交易委員會與國家通訊傳播委員會的正式批准。

針對此併購案,台灣人公共事務會(FAPA)會長高龍榮博士指出:「 自從2008年總統馬英九上任以來,我們很遺憾地觀察到大規模的新聞自由腐蝕針對國民黨順應中國,損害台灣言論自由的保障,我們甚感不安。」

他接著說:「此併購案後將集中近50%的媒體掌控權在一個親中且罔顧新聞自主的人身上,蔡衍明旺中集團的中國時報在台灣報導親中的輿論所帶出的影響,也在2012年1月總統大選時非常明顯。」

高博士總結:「 我們呼籲台灣的政府和媒體監管單位駁回此併購案,並找出解決方案尊重台灣多元媒體、保障我們努力實現的自由和民主的價值。身為台美人的我們,絕對會使美國國會和政府關注台灣的媒體自由

(November 30, 2012) FAPA Expresses Deep Concern About Erosion Of Press Freedom In Taiwan / FAPA表示深度關切受到侵蝕的台灣新聞自由