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Politics

Taiwan declines to renew license for pro-Beijing news channel

Authorities take issue with parent group's influence over reporting

CTi News is a prominent news channel in Taiwan known for its pro-Beijing viewpoint. (Photo by Yu Nakamura)

TAIPEI -- Taiwanese authorities on Wednesday announced they will not renew the broadcast license of a prominent pro-Beijing news channel, triggering pushback from its operator as a violation of press freedoms.

Without a renewal, CTi News will be forced off the air when its current license expires on Dec. 11. The other two entertainment-focused channels under the same broadcaster, CTi TV, will remain on the air.

Taiwan has denied licenses to eight channels in the last 20 years, but this is the first news channel to get the ax.

CTi TV said it will take legal action to fight the decision. The broadcaster was acquired in 2009 by Want Want China Holdings, which found success selling snacks and other foods on the mainland and is known to be pro-Beijing.

Given this background, Taiwan's National Communications Commission likely decided not to renew the news channel's license over concerns that Want Want's influence is leading to biased reporting in favor of mainland China.

The decision comes amid growing concerns that Beijing is stepping up efforts to disseminate disinformation using the internet and media outlets. The Taiwanese parliament passed new legislation at the end of last year designed to prevent such interference by the mainland government.

Still, critics argue that the NCC's decision is a blow to Taiwan's civil liberties. The Kuomintang, the pro-Beijing opposition party, called the move a step back for freedom of the press on the island.

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