IT'S OVER: A contentious bid by a pro-China businessman and three associates to acquire Taiwan's largest newspaper and an influential investigative journal has fallen through after protests that the deal threatened press freedom on the democratic island.

DOWN TO WIRE: The collapse comes one day before the deadline for completion of the 16 billion New Taiwan dollars ($536 million) sale to the son of food magnate Tsai Eng-meng and others.

MEDIA CONCENTRATION: The prospective deal had sparked widespread opposition in Taiwan because of concerns over Tsai's pro-Chinese stance and his control of another Taiwan media company, the China Times Group. Taiwan and China split amid civil war in 1949.