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    Sale of Next Media in Taiwan Fuels Concern over Media Independence


    by NTDTelevision

    Around 100 activists and media union representatives gathered outside of Taiwan's Cabinet headquarters on Tuesday to protest the sale of several prominent Taiwanese media.

    Hong Kong media mogul Jimmy Lai sold the Taiwanese portion of Next Media to a group of businessmen with close ties to China. Next Media is known for being critical on its reporting about mainland China.

    Many Taiwanese people are worried that with the sale, local media will lose its ability to report independently on China-related issues.

    [Tsai Jih-yun, Apple Daily Union President]:
    "Over 2000 Taiwan media staffs have worked for Jimmy Lai for so many years, pursuing democracy and freedom together. However, they were sold to a new employer that has interfered speech freedom many times. It's like a group of democracy activists are sold to the Chinese Communist Party by Jimmny Lai."

    The Apple Daily, Next Magazine, Next TV and Sharp Daily are all part of the $600 million deal signed in Macau today.

    One of the new owners, Tsai Engmeng, made his fortune selling rice crackers. He expanded his business venture into China, and has developed a large Chinese-language media conglomerate.

    Tsai has previously outraged the public with his statements downplaying the Tiananmen Square Massacre and suggesting China and Taiwan should jointly claim the disputed Diaoyu (in Taiwan Daioyutai) islands with the mainland.

    The deal has yet to be approved by government regulators, but Taiwanese authorities have indicated they would not block the sale because of competing political views.

    The other owners of Next Media's Taiwan holdings are ChinaTrust group Chairman, Jeffrey Koo and Formosa Plastics Group Chairman, William Wong.

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