TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – In the latest installment of the long-running takeover battle for Eastern Broadcasting Co. (EBC, 東森電視), the National Communications Commission (NCC, 國家通訊傳播委員會) on Wednesday announced it was rejecting the bid by Taiwan Optical Platform Co. (台數科) due to violations of a ban on political links.
EBC, a part of the Eastern Multimedia Group founded by tycoon Gary Wang (王令麟), has been up for sale for years, but several potential buyers were rejected.
Taiwan Optical was only the latest company interested in EBC, which is 61 percent owned by the Carlyle Group of the U.S., 35 percent by Eastern Media International and 4 percent by EBC employees.
The NCC said one of the key elements to decide on a rejection of the Taiwan Optical bid was the presence of separate shareholdings in the firm violating a rule against media ownership by political, government and military groups. Pingtung County Councilor Sung Li-hua (宋麗華) had reportedly bought shares in Taiwan Optical.
However, the NCC pointed out that there were more wide-ranging reasons for rejecting the Taiwan Optical proposal. The company has an open structure making it difficult to prevent violation of the restrictions, it has elevated short-term debt, and it also presently holds a market share of 10 percent in the cable TV sector due to its five channels, the NCC said.
After a takeover of EBC, Taiwan Optical would own 13 channels – the second-highest number in the country – and occupy a market share of 20 percent for news and financial channels.
Such a large concentration of media in the hands of one company also contributed to its decision to reject the proposed deal, the NCC said.
Taiwan Optical had reportedly wanted to pay NT$11.12 billion (US$350 million) for a 65-percent stake in EBC in order to transform it into a 4K HD TV platform.
An earlier bid to buy EBC led by Los Angeles-based DMG Entertainment faltered as the company came under scrutiny for its close ties to China.