Taiwan rejects licence renewal for Beijing-friendly tycoon’s news channel
- CTi is seen as pro-China and the decision marks the first time the regulator has effectively shut down a television news station
- It cited evidence of editorial interference from major shareholder Tsai Eng-meng
The rejection of CTi cable’s request is the first time Taiwan has shut, even though indirectly, a television news station since the regulator, the National Communications Commission, was set up in 2006.
The decision provoked immediate anger from CTi and Taiwan’s main opposition party, which called it an attack on media freedom.
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Commission head Chen Yaw-shyang said the rejection decision was unanimous and cited accusations of interference in CTi’s editorial independence by major shareholder Tsai Eng-meng, who runs one of China’s largest food firms, Want Want China Holdings.
“It is a fact that their biggest shareholder had directly interfered in the news desk of CTi,” Chen said.
CTi had been fined for several violations such as failure to check facts and endangering the public interest, he added.
The channel, which vowed to fight the decision in court, has denied favouring Beijing, saying the government is seeking to silence those who do not support its policies.
Chen said CTi received more than 920 complaints last year, about a third of the total for all news channels in Taiwan.
However, he said, there was no evidence that CTi had received Chinese government funding.
Key shareholder Tsai could not be immediately reached for comment, but he has previously rejected accusations of newsroom interference.
Tsai Eng-meng’s family owns two television stations and several newspapers and cable networks in Taiwan.
The Kuomintang, Taiwan’s main opposition party, said it opposed the decision, as it could have a “chilling effect, strongly impacting press freedom”.