New Bill Allowing Political and Military Investments in Taiwan Media Raises Concerns

New Bill Allowing Political and Military Investments in Taiwan Media Raises Concerns
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Guan Zhong-xiang, associate professor at Chung Cheng University, says that the cable television industry is already open for foreign investments and if broadcast television is opened as well, there might be less locally produced programs and the industry will become a relaying platform for foreign television programs. Guan also fears that the new bill will grant the government power to manipulate public opinions.

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On October 14, the National Communications Commission (NCC) proposed a bill aiming to ease restrictions on foreign, military and political investments in the media. The Executive Yuan is expected to examine the bill by the end of this year. The NCC hopes to promote competition in the market, but academics worry about a decrease in locally produced TV programs and the government being able to manipulate public opinions.

UDN reports, originally neither political parties nor the military can invest in the media, but the new bill proposes to remove these limitations so companies that have shareholders with political and military backgrounds can invest in the media.

As for foreign shareholders, the current law prohibits foreign investment in radio and television broadcasting, and requires the investors to be ROC citizens. However, these prohibitions might also be loosened in the future.

Apple Daily reports, the existing regulation limits the duration of advertisements to be less than 15% of the total time of each TV program. NCC says that the new bill will not restrict the duration as long as they are clearly labeled as advertisements for the audience.

NCC spokesperson Yu Xiao-cheng says that the new bill hopes to loosen excessive regulations in order to promote competition and reduce unnecessary restrictions to make room for market mechanisms.

Guan Zhong-xiang, associate professor at the Department of Communication at Chung Cheng University, says that the cable television industry is already open for foreign investments and if broadcast television is opened as well, there might be less locally produced programs and the industry will become a relaying platform for foreign television programs. Guan also fears that the new bill will grant the government power to manipulate public opinions.

Digital Convergence Development Association Director General Wu Shi-chang says, the restriction on military and political investments is already outdated and is harmful to competition in the market. Broadcast television has long been in deficit and opening up to foreign investments can improve the industry.

However, Wu also admits that Chinese investments already secretly exist in the industry and have drawn concern about the influence of the Chinese government in the Taiwanese media.

Translated by Vic Chiang
Edited by Olivia Yang

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