Thu, Oct 05, 2017 - Page 12 News List

EHS unfazed by failure of TOP talks

FEE DISPUTE:The firms have been feuding all year over channel listing fees after EHS asked for a reduction, but TOP said that it is not worried by EHS’s threat to pull out

By Lauly Li  /  Staff reporter

TV shopping operator Eastern Home Shopping & Leisure Co Ltd (EHS, 東森購物) on Tuesday said it was not worried about the possible withdrawal of five of its shopping channels from Taiwan Optical Platform Co (TOP, 台灣數位光訊) amid the recent collapse of negotiations on listing fees.

“We might lose 500,000 viewers from TOP’s broadcasting systems, but we gained 1.4 million additional viewers earlier this year from a collaboration with Chunghwa Telecom Co’s [CHT, 中華電信] multimedia-on-demand [MOD] service,” EHS, a subsidiary of Eastern Media International (東森國際), said in a statement. “We foresee limited impact on EHS’ operation.”

However, such a withdrawal would affect TOP’s annual revenue by NT$200 million (US$6.57 million), EHS said.

The National Communications Commission’s (NCC) attempt to mediate between the two companies failed on Saturday last week for a second time.

EHS is the nation’s largest TV shopping operator.

Taiwan has a total of eight TV shopping channels and EHS operates five of them, accounting for 62.5 percent market share.

When the two firms were about to renew their annual contract at the end of last year, EHS asked TOP to lower its channel listing fees.

When they failed to reach an agreement on the issue, EHS at the beginning of this year suspended its fee payments.

TOP has accused EHS of using its market position to try to force it to agree to lower its fees by threatening to withdraw from TOP’s broadcasting system.

“EHS’ possible withdrawal opens a window for another TV shopping operator to enter the market, which we believe would make Taiwan’s TV shopping industry healthier,” TOP said in a separate statement on Tuesday.

EHS possible pullout would not affect its financial performance this year, TOP said without elaborating.

It is not the first time that TOP has become embroiled in a long-running commercial dispute.

Eastern Media, which owns a 21.5 percent stake in Eastern Broadcasting Co (EBC, 東森國際), late last year said that it strongly opposed TOP’s plan to purchase of 65 percent stake in EBC for NT$11.12 billion. It questioned TOP’s financial capability and its ownership of adult channels.

Since then, Eastern Media and TOP have traded accusations of using the media to spread misleading information in a bid to influence the government on the EBC share sale.

The Investment Commission on Aug. 22 rejected TOP’s bid for EBC, saying it would expand TOP’s market share and undermine freedom of speech in the nation.

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