A group of investors with ties to China were set to
buy one of Taiwan's largest media groups Tuesday, sparking protests
against alleged pro-China influence over the island's media.
Hong Kong media mogul Jimmy Lai is selling his Next Media Ltd's Taiwan business for 17.5 billion Taiwan dollars (602 million US dollars). The sale would be finalized by the end of the day in Macau, a Next Media spokesman told dpa.
The buyers include Taiwan's richest person, Tsai Eng-meng, who made his fortune selling rice crackers on the mainland.
Tsai, who already owns China Times, another Taiwan newspaper, is known for supporting closer relations between China and Taiwan. In a Washington Post interview in January, he said he hoped for unification between the two during his lifetime.
Analysts say Tsai's purchase of Next Media, which prints Taiwan's most widely-circulated newspaper Apple Daily, will give him access to 46 per cent of the territory's print media.
The tycoon is also seeking government approval to buy Taiwan's second-largest cable provider.
A group of 300 students in Taipei tried to storm Premier Sean Chen's office, demanding that he promise to regulate the deal, before being driven back by riot police.
"Go home and bring 10 friends on Thursday," Chen Wei-ting, one of the student organizers, shouted to the demonstrators. "We'll show (the government) what 3,000 voices against media monopoly sounds like!"
Around 50 Next Media employees blockaded the main entrance to their office building overnight, demanding that the buyers guarantee editorial freedom.
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