The Politics of Democratisation: Creating an Independent Communications Regulator in Transitional Taiwan
This thesis examines the creation of the National Communications Commission (NCC), an independent media regulatory agency in Taiwan, in order to shed light on the relationship between media, state, and democracy in post-transition countries. This study positions the NCC as the key transformation of media reform during the political transition to democracy. On the one hand, it addresses the role of media in transitional societies and how political and industry power elites try to maintain control. On the other hand, it traces the rise of the ‘regulatory state’, a global trend towards regulatory reform, and investigates how the political environment in transitional countries may influence its development. This research is based on the analysis of case studies spanning issues of institutional legitimacy, media ownership, and convergence legislation, with the support of data collected by document analysis and interviews with actors in the policymaking process.\ud \ud The findings point to how Taiwan’s post-authoritarian political background has outweighed economic and technological factors as described in mainstream literature in giving rise to the creation of the agency. The analysis demonstrates that state intervention and politicised concepts of democratisation and independence of the agency both impair media regulatory capacities in transitional societies. More importantly, it is indicated that the threat to democracy has been shifting from authoritarian states to unfettered markets where concentration of media ownership and impediments to media reform through entrenched politico-economic networks have taken place. I question the popular discourse that democratisation is equal to the withdrawal of the state in media regulation, calling instead for active civic engagement to hold the agency accountable, scrutinise its performance, and make the media better serve the public.
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