September 3-9, 2012
Christians join fellow citizens in protest against Want-Want monopoly
Reported by Chiu Kuo-rong
Written by Lydia Ma
In the wake of Want-Want China Time’s Group merger with China Network Systems (CNS) and the National Communication’s Commission’s (NCC) conditional approval of this merger, many academics and students have voiced their opposition to the monopolization of the media in Taiwan. Their concerns are not baseless because not only is CNS already the largest cable TV service provider in Taiwan, Want-Want China Times Group already owns several media outlets, including newspapers, a magazine, TV channels and a radio station. Want-Want’s response to these concerns has been to strike back at individual dissenters through false media reports to scare off anyone who dares to oppose the merger. There was a lot of public criticism once these reports were proven to be false.
In response to this chain of events, crowds assembled on September 1, also known as Reporter’s Day, to protest against the monopolization of the media in Taiwan. Organizations advocating for reform of the media and the Association of Taiwan Journalists led the crowd in a protest rally. The protest route began at China Time’s main office and culminated at the front steps of the NCC office.
Many Christians took part in this protest because they believed that their participation was a part of living out their Christian convictions. One PCT member, Lien Mei-man, said that protesters were active in opposing such a monopoly because everyone felt that the fourth estate in Taiwan had not evolved with the times and seemed stuck in Martial Law era mentality. Lien added that the PCT greatly values Taiwan’s sovereignty and therefore it also values freedom of speech and freedom of the press. The church will not allow any political party to take these freedoms away.
Lien Min-shu, a member of Shih-Lin Bread of Life Church, took part in this rally too and brought along his wife and children. When interviewed, he said that he decided to take a stand and join protesters because he believes that, as a member of Taiwanese society, he must care about social issues. He underscored that it had never crossed his mind to consider whether his religious beliefs had any impact when he made this decision. He simply believes that every citizen, regardless of religious beliefs, should care about social justice.
Lien went on to say that life and Christian beliefs should not be compartmentalized in a Christian’s life. For this reason, he does not agree with evangelical churches that advocate relying on prayer alone to overcome unjust governments. He thinks such a mentality merely gives Christians an excuse to avoid taking action and confronting structural injustices in the government. He further noted that Jesus Christ actively ministered and traveled for 3 years instead of locking himself in a room to pray for 3 years. However, he also acknowledged that those who chose to stay home do not necessarily feel indifferent about freedom of the press and Taiwan has indeed become a diverse society.
Mass media communication scholar and Holiness Church member, Kuan Chung-hsiang told Taiwan Church News that Christians ought to be very concerned about social justice issues and issues pertaining to justice, equality, and democracy. He underscored that it is very regrettable that Taiwanese media is not evolving into a more democratic state and added that Want-Want’s merger and imminent monopoly of the media is merely the tip of the iceberg. He explained that underneath this merger lies greater problems that have to do with the nation’s media structure and political structure. For this reason, mass media and communication scholars have vehemently opposed Want-Want’s monopoly. At the end of the day, Kuan believes that the NCC ought to pass regulations to fend off similar incidents in the future.