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Taiwan blocks anti-media monopoly bill, raising fears for press freedom

Published on Jan 11, 2013 7:02 PM
Mr Su Tseng-chang (front row - centre), chairman of Taiwan's main opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), chants slogans with party legislators calling for the public to join a planned demonstration on Jan 13, 2013, at the parliament in Taipei on Friday. Taiwan's main opposition party said it would stage a huge demonstration against the government's economic record, vowing to draw a turnout of 100,000 people. -- PHOTO: AFP

TAIPEI (REUTERS) - Taiwan's ruling party has blocked an anti-media monopoly bill that could have derailed a deal to put nearly half of the island's print and television operations in the hands of a group of pro-mainland China businessmen.

Next Media Ltd, owned by Hong Kong media mogul Jimmy Lai, signed a deal in November with five Taiwan tycoons to sell its Taiwan print and TV assets for NT$17.5 billion (S$727 million), sparking fears that the agreement with pro-mainland forces could spell trouble for press freedom on the island.

In an about-turn on Friday, the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) rejected the anti-monopoly media law proposed by Taiwan's major opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), a move that is expected to swell numbers at a rally planned for Sunday against mainland-friendly President Ma Ying-jeou.

"We ask the government to stop treating people like fools and losing its own credibility," Ms Chen Hsiao-yi, president of Association of Taiwan Journalists, said in a statement.

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