Joe Hung in the China Post has a long opinion piece on the crowded newspaper situation in Taiwan and the upcoming bloodletting…

One thing must be clearly understood. Media are subject to the Darwinian law of survival for the fittest, call it the law of the jungle, if you will. Only the fittest of newspapers can survive. Those that lose in the struggle for existence have to be washed out. No government help can save them.

The GIO must have known one biggest trouble afflicting the media in Taiwan is that there are too many of them. Take the Greater Washington area as an example. There is in effect only one newspaper, The Washington Post, in an area with a population on a par with the Greater Taipei area. The per capita income of the former is twice that of the latter, where there are four major newspapers — The United Daily News, The Liberty Times, The Apple Daily and The China Times which will soon drop out. Simple mathematics dictates the number of papers in Taipei to decrease to two, at most.

Albert Yu, publisher of The China Times, told me 17 years ago the combined circulation of his group was one million copies and he had 6,000 employees on the payroll. He said the group had NT$10 billion in sales. At that time, The Sankei Shimbun in Tokyo, which also operates the Fuji TV network, had a daily circulation of 2.5 million and a 2,500-strong staff. I didn’t dare to tell him The China Times was grossly overstaffed and he would be in trouble when Taiwan was in an economic downturn. The United Daily News, I am certain, couldn’t fare any better. The Liberty Times was in the red, but its owner Lin Rong-san was more than rich to mind the loss.

Hung’s piece has a thumbnail review of Taiwan media history that is quite interesting. Also in the media news, Reuters reports that Hong Kong’s Phoenix TV is applying for a license to broadcast in Taiwan.

Phoenix Satellite, a China-focused broadcaster run by a former Chinese military official, has reapplied to broadcast in Taiwan, seven years after being rejected, a government source said on Tuesday.

Hong Kong-listed Phoenix, one of the few non-government owned media companies with limited broadcast rights in China, submitted its application last month, said the government source, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive situation.

It seems pretty easy to see which side of things Phoenix TV will be on. Indeed, a couple of years ago the redoubtable Scott Sommers and I ran into a Phoenix TV reporter at the TVBS demonstration, and she regurgitated a bunch of pro-KMT propaganda. Scott read her the riot act in a breathtaking display of eloquence. But if the media are headed for a round of bloodletting in which only the well-financed survive, surely our local media will be competing at a disadvantage against well-funded foreign firms with larger economic bases….hopefully the government will think twice.