Taiwan’s National Communications Commission unanimously ruled on Wednesday against the renewal of the license of a TV station controlled by pro-mainland China snack tycoon Tsai Eng-meng. Tsai was accused of interfering with the broadcaster’s editorial independence.
Under the ruling, CtiTV will go off-air from Dec. 11, the day its current license expires.
Chen Yaw-Shyang, chair of the media watchdog, said CtiTV had violated regulations multiple times and failed to maintain its professionalism as a news operation. In addition, Tsai was found to have been interfering with the station’s news activities.
The seven-member commission ruled that, as a result, CtiTV would not be capable of implementing its future plans. The unanimous decision came after nearly five months of investigation. It is the first time a TV license was revoked in Taiwan since 2006.
When asked if another player would take over the CtiTV’s spectrum, Chen said he hoped an opportunity would be given to Taiwan Broadcasting System’s news channel.
Records of Tsai’s direct interference with the station’s operation including a screen capture of his WeChat conversation with the management of CtiTV showed that Tsai had attempted to give direct or indirect instructions to the station.
The investigation also alleged that during a county mayor’s election in 2018, CtiTV was operating without a news director, and the editorial department came under the control of China Television Company’s chair Qiu Jia-yu. This also crossed the commission’s bottom line, according to Taiwanese media.
Tsai, the chairman of the snack empire Want Want China, is one of Taiwan’s richest men and has a net worth of $5.6 billion, according to Forbes. In addition to CtiTV, he also controls the China Times newspaper and China Television Co. He was also involved in the operation of Hong Kong’s Asia Television in the early 2010s, which led to prolonged disputes with other shareholders. ATV eventually lost its license in 2016.
In a Facebook post, Tsai lambasted NCC for making “a political decision,” and for measuring his TV station’s performance with a fake standard. “has CtiTV’s standard been so bad that it warrants getting its license revoked?” he wrote.