The Straits Times
Published on Jan 11, 2013

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


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.