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Anti-Media Monopoly Youth Federation members protested in front of the Executive Yuan, the communist regime’s headquarters in Taiwan, requesting that Premier Sean Chen come out to hear their demands as they were confronted by the police. (Chen Baizhou/The Epoch Times)
Hong Kong-based Next Media signed a contract to sell its Taiwanese news business, including both print and television companies, on the morning of Nov. 28 in Macao, according to a report by Taiwan’s Central News Agency
Consequently, many are worried that Taiwan’s media freedom may be in jeopardy. Although Next Media has a reputation for independent coverage of Taiwan’s government as well as the communist government of mainland China, some of the company’s new investors have a history of commercial interests in communist China. This is particularly true of Taiwanese businessman Tsai Eng-meng, chairman of the Want Want China Times Group, which has been cited by critics as the perfect example of encroachment by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) into independent news media.
The shares of Next Media have been separated into print and television media. Tsai currently owns 32 percent in print and zero percent for television media.
“This is the day media freedom disappears in Taiwan,” a music fan located in Taiwan lamented on Weibo.
Four Next Media employee unions issued joint statements on Nov. 27. Starting from the second on the left on the front row are Cai Riyun, Chairman of Apple Daily Employee Union, Chen Kangyi, Chairman of Sharp Daily Employee Union, Zheng Yiping, Chairman of Next TV Employee Union, and Yang Ruchun, Chairman of Next Magazine Employee Union. (Chen Baizhou/The Epoch Times)
Netizen “Jidong Weibo”, a librarian located in the United States noted on Weibo: “There are four buyers; all are commercial or industrial tycoons in Taiwan without any direct involvement. However, these wealthy and powerful people just happen to have good relations with the Chinese Communist Party, and under their control, whether Next Media’s news business will exercise self-constraint is something to watch out for.”
The Anti-Media Monopoly Youth Federation commented on its Facebook page: “The contract to purchase Next Media has been officially signed, and the Fair Trade Commission is now the only thing preventing Want Want CEO Tsai Eng-meng from purchasing Next Media’s print news business. If Want Want acquires Apple Daily, it will take 46 percent of the market! The whole world can see that this would be a media monopoly; only the Fair Trade Commission can’t see it!”
Under the slogan “I’m a student, I’m anti-Want Want,” more than 100 members of the Anti-Media Monopoly Youth Federation protested in front of the Executive Yuan, the communist regime’s headquarters in Taiwan, coming face-to-face with the police. They requested that Premier Sean Chen come out to hear their demands.
The Anti-Media Monopoly Youth Federation also requested that Taiwanese president Ma Ying-jeou strictly monitor the Next Media acquisition. The Next Media case has already caused strong public distrust of Ma’s administration. In fact, according to recent opinion polls, over 70 percent are dissatisfied with Ma’s administration in general.
Chairman of the Democratic Progressive Party Su Tseng-chang warned that the purchase of Next Media will have a major impact on the media environment in Taiwan, and therefore President Ma has an obligation to get involved, Apple Daily reported.
The Apple Daily Employee Union also started a protest movement lasting several days. Dozens of employees stayed overnight at the Taiwanese Apple Daily headquarters on Nov. 26. The next day, all four major employee unions of Next Media–¬Apple Daily, Next TV, Next Magazine, and Sharp Daily–issued public statements stressing that if the new Next Media investors are trying to censor negative news, or use the resultant power of the press as a bargaining chip in dealing with the CCP, “You are a disgrace of this society.” They added that money may be able to buy the brand of Next Media, but it certainly “cannot buy our souls!”