The Cabinet passed a draft of the Statute Regulating Digital and Wireless Broadcasting Development (數位無線電視發展條例), which will halve commodity taxes levied on televisions attached or embedded with digital tuners starting next year, according to a Government Information Office statement issued on Wednesday night.
The statute aims to replace analog broadcasting with digital broadcasting by 2008 and recall analog signals by 2010, the statement said.
The statute needs to be passed by the legislature before it can go into effect. If the legislature passes the draft, commodity taxes imposed on digital TVs -- whether they are made in Taiwan or imported from overseas -- will be cut to 6.5 percent from the current 13 percent, Cabinet Spokesman Cho Jung-tai (卓榮泰) said on Wednesday.
Currently, local manufacturers or importers absorb the 13 percent commodity tax, without transferring it to consumers amid a fiercely competitive market.
According to the draft of the statute, TV sets larger than 29 inches made by local manufacturers or imported from overseas should have digital TV tuners embedded or added starting next year. The same rule applies to TVs larger than 21 inches and smaller than 29 inches starting in 2007, and TVs of all sizes in 2008.
To help digital broadcasting penetrate all sectors of society, the Cabinet also plans to subsidize lower and middle income families to help with the cost of set-top boxes, currently priced at NT$3,000 each, or give them the boxes for free, Cho said.
Eastern Multimedia Co (東森媒體科技), China Network Systems Co (中嘉網路) and Taiwan Broadband Corp (台灣寬頻) are the major local digital broadcasters, while state-run Chunghwa Telecom Co (中華電信) and Seednet (數位聯合), a leading Internet service provider, also provide the digital services on a multimedia-on-demand (MOD) model.
Each of the companies has a small base of subscribers. Lack of supporting measures and poor digital content were said to be the main reasons for the slowing penetration, officials said.