Aiming for clarity on monopolization

By Joe hung

Confucius had an account of his gradual progress and attainments kept in the Analects, which according to James Legge’s translation runs in part: “At fifteen, I had my mind bent on learning. At 30, I stood firm. At 40, I had no doubts. At 70, I could follow what my heart desired, without transgressing what was right.” By “stood firm” he meant he was capable of independent thinking. Remember what Leo Tolstoy quipped? The celebrated Russian author of “War and Peace” said anybody who wasn’t a Communist before he was 30 is a fool and those who were still Communists after they were over 30 are fools as well. It may be a coincidence that the two great men chose 30 years of age as the point in life of people who have become capable of clear, independent thinking.

That’s why most of the people, including the readers of The China Post in particular, have paid little attention to a row between Su Tseng-chang, chairman of the Democratic Progressive Party, and Tsai Eng-meng, owner of the Want Want China Times group, over media monopolization, which is literally kids’ stuff.

Media monopolization is a serious matter, of course. Ben Bagdikian, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, points out in his book “The Media Monopoly” the ominous absence of, and increasingly limited access to, free, uncensored and diverse information by media ever more monopolized and controlled by political, governmental and corporate interests. Moreover, the Circuit Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia has required the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to reconsider its regulation that bars cross-ownership of cable systems and local stations in the same market from covering more than 35 percent of the U.S. market. The stage was set for the opposition party to attack Tsai’s media group whose acquisition of 60 percent of Taiwan’s second largest cable television service previously owned by the China Network System was approved by the National Communications Commission (NCC) on July 25 last year. Su and his party fear Tsai, who has made lots of money in China, is under Beijing’s control and will make his media outlets a Chinese organ of propaganda against Taiwan.

University instructors and students were called upon to take to the streets to protest against Tsai’s “media monster.” The Apple Daily, a newspaper arm of the Next Media group all set to be acquired by Taiwan’s banking tycoons, joined in the fray by describing the July 25 decision as one that creates “one voice monopolizing Taiwan’s media.” Su urged President Ma Ying-jeou to annul that NCC decision as one condition to cancel his “People’s Fury” march on the Presidential Office last month. And it was found out only last week that a young graduate student, Lin Ting-an majoring in philosophy at Yangming University, was so eager to promote her anti-media monopolization cause as to involve Noam Chomsky, the linguist of “componential English grammar” fame and author of “The Responsibility of Intellectuals.”