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Ruling party delays passage of Taiwan's anti-media monopoly bill

Ruling party delays passage of Taiwan's anti-media monopoly bill

Taipei, Jan. 11 (CNA) The ruling party Kuomintang had second thoughts about approving a controversial bill initiated by the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in the Legislative Yuan on Friday, delaying approval of the bill intended to prevent monopolization of Taiwan's media. The bill was proposed after a group of Taiwanese business tycoons with strong business interest in China recently signed an agreement to purchase the popular newspaper, magazines and TV station of Next Media in Taiwan, raising fears about potential Beijing influence over press freedom here. Instead of supporting the bill as it had promised to do on Thursday, the ruling party took issue with provisions in the bill, and forced the legislative speaker to refer it for further negotiations between the two parties. That scuttled the DPP's hopes of ramming the bill through the legislative floor on Friday. The Kuomintang lawmakers' decision not to back the bill came after Premier Sean Chen said on Thursday that more thought should be given to the bill before it is passed into law. After consulting with Howard Shyr, the head of the National Communications Commission (NCC), Chen said through his spokesperson Cheng Li-wun that he fully agreed with Shyr that the monopolization of the mass media would be better dealt with in a special act to be created by the NCC, which is the regulator of the electronic mass media. Cheng said the premier huddled over the phone with President Ma Ying-jeou and Kuomintang Secretary-General Tsen Yung-chuan about the bill late Thursday, and they agreed to postpone the enactment of the bill until the NCC completes its draft act. An NCC spokesman Hsieh Huan-chien said earlier in the day that the DPP-initiated bill was ill-conceived and if passed, would have difficulties being put into practice. For example, Hsieh said the bill's ban on financial companies investing in broadcasting and television companies would limit broadcasting and television companies' chances of getting new investment. Also, he said, the bill says it will be applied retroactively. That means financial companies which are already running television companies will have to withdraw their investment with unpredictable impacts on the market. Still another provision in the bill which forbids any investor having stakes of more than 10 percent in both satellite television and cable television companies is inappropriate, because it overlooks the market share of these companies, said Hsieh. The Kuomintang lawmakers' decision to renege on their promise to support the DPP bill angered a group of students who gathered at the Legislative Yuan to show their opposition to the concentration of ownership of Taiwan's mass media in the hands of a few business tycoons. They demanded the Kuomintang caucus apologize for backing down on its promise, but Wu Yu-sheng, the secretary of the caucus refused. He said his party sticks to its ground of opposing media monopolies, but will follow the NCC's advice and negotiate with the DPP to improve the bill. DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang said the Kuomintang's flipflop on the bill has shown the ruling party is more a speaker for the business conglomerates than the people. Su said the Kuomintang pretended to support the bill only in hopes of allaying people's anger with the government and undermining the demonstration to be staged by the DPP on Sunday to show people's discontent. (By Chen Wei-ting, Tsen Ying-yu and Maubo Chang)


Updated : 2021-10-21 14:23 GMT+08:00