Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Dark clouds over Taiwan’s media

Young Taiwanese protest in front of the EY yesterday
The real threat from media monopoly run by large corporations is not brainwashing, but self-censorship for the sake of the business interest

How quickly the proverbial frog is being cooked. Less than three months ago, thousands of young Taiwanese and representatives of media organizations gathered to protest against the acquisition by Want Want China Times Group of cable TV services run by China Network Systems, fearing that such a purchase — since then conditionally approved — would create a “media monster.” 

This week, Want Want Group is not only appealing the conditions set by the government, but is on the brink, along with two other corporate giants, of acquiring Next Media Group’s outlets in Taiwan, including the staunchly independent Apple Daily and Next Magazine, sparking a new round of protests over the past two days. 

With a decision expected later this week, one of the few remaining neutral media organizations in Taiwan could be swallowed up by a triumvirate composed of the China-friendly Want Want China Times Group, Formosa Plastics Group and the Chinatrust Charity Foundation. All three have important business operations in authoritarian China. 

The main danger of media monopolization is not that Taiwanese will be “brainwashed,” but that journalists and editorialists will feel compelled to avoid certain controversial subjects for the financial benefit of their employers. 

My unsigned editorial, published today in the Taipei Times, continues here.

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