NCC hearing casts doubt over merger of cable providers

The China Post news staff

The China Post news staff–The six scholars invited to a National Communications Commission (NCC) hearing to scrutinize a merger proposal by Want Want China Broadband (旺中寬頻, WWCB) to buy out China Network Systems (中嘉網路CNS), the country’s second-largest multiple system operator (MSO), were overwhelmingly against it, and so were the protesters on the sidelines of the hearing. WWCB Chairman Tsai Shao-chung (蔡紹中), however, accused the opposition of judging him by what happened in a previous generation. The six scholars were of the opinion that once the NT$76 billion merger is given the green light, the freedom of expression and media diversity in the country will immediately be impaired, echoing the fears of civic organizations that the merger may result in a monopolization of the media and concentration of the opinion apparatus in the hands of a few. Commenting on the most expensive media merger proposal in Asia in five years, Ku Ling-ling (谷玲玲), associate professor of National Taiwan University’s Graduate School of Journalism, said WWCB must introduce specific measures to help dispel the uneasiness of critics who have doubts about the company’s track record in keeping the expression of views interference-free.

Chang Chin-hwa (張錦華), a professor from the National Taiwan University Graduate School of Journalism, was more blunt, saying the merger will jeopardize the freedom of expression in Taiwan.

Chang also directly called on the company to stop trying to engineer mergers. The proposal is detrimental to the development of democracy and liberty in Taiwan and, as such, must be withdrawn as quickly as possible, Chang said, adding many media, wary of the company’s influence, were not reporting on the proposal lest they offended it.

In a society where the expression of opinions becomes a privilege, dissent will be brushed aside, Chang said, adding such a society cannot be considered democratic.