The Executive Yuan yesterday approved a proposal to cut by half the commodity tax on digital television as part of its effort to help the nation completely switch to digital TV by January 2008.
Addressing a press conference yesterday morning, Government Information Office (GIO) Director-General Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) said the proposal was approved during a cross-ministry economic meeting earlier yesterday.
In a bid to encourage local manufacturers of digital TV sets, Lin said they are entitled to a 50 percent reduction in the commodity tax until December 2010. While the current tax rate is 13 percent, the government hopes to see the rate drop to 6.5 percent with the implementation of the initiative.
The tax-cut proposal was drafted by the GIO, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Science and Technology Advisory Group (科技顧問組), in a bid to stay ahead of China before the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008. The event will be broadcast entirely in digital format.
To achieve that goal, Lin said that 29-inch television sets must be equipped with built-in receivers for digital signals starting January 2006. This will pave the way for the complete switch-over from analog to digital TV by January 2008.
"In a bid to reach the target by January 2008, manufacturers must install built-in receivers in new 29-inch television sets starting January 2006," he said. "The policy will extend to the 21-inch television sets starting January 2007."
By the end of 2010, the government hopes to take back all analog channels and more effectively manage the resources, he added.
The policy is one of the projects included in the Cabinet's NT$2.6 trillion, six-year national development package.
The project, dubbed "digital Taiwan," aims to develop the nation into the most digitalized nation in Asia. It in particular seeks to digitalize the media industry, including TV, radio and film production.
To help boost the industry, Lin said the government hopes to popularize digital TV, making programs more diversified and of better quality.
In addition to providing incentives to encourage manufacturers to reduce retail prices of digital TV sets and set-up boxes, the government will subsidize low-income families with the purchase of set-top descramblers, he said.
Set-top descramblers currently cost between NT$2,000 and NT$2,900.