Fri, Oct 14, 2016 - Page 1 News List

Culture ministry rules out local branch of iQiyi

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Minister of Culture Cheng Li-chiun yesterday speaks at a meeting of the legislature’s Education and Culture Committee at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei.

Photo: CNA

Chinese Internet media service operator iQiyi (愛奇藝) cannot establish a local subsidiary under laws regulating cross-strait affairs, Minister of Culture Cheng Li-chiun (鄭麗君) said yesterday in response to questions from lawmakers during a briefing at the Legislative Yuan.

Cheng was at a meeting of the legislature’s Education and Culture Committee to explain how the government is planning to develop the Internet media industry, which delivers audio, video or other media without an operator controlling the distribution of content, which is referred to as over-the-top (OTT) content.

Some committee members raised the issue of iQiyi , which has submitted its third application for a local subsidiary.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Ko Chih-en (柯志恩) said that 25 percent of the programs on iQiyi are Taiwanese dramas, and the platform could help these programs reach millions of viewers in China, which could encourage Taiwanese producers to produce more TV dramas.

IQiyi has already attracted local users, and allowing it to establish a subsidiary would allow the government to tax it for the revenue it has earned here, Ko said.

A local office could also be held accountable if disputes arose over the firm’s service, she said.

Cheng said that the Regulations Governing Permission for People from the Mainland Area to Invest in Taiwan (大陸地區之營利事業在台設立分公司或辦事處許可辦法) state that OTT services belong to the service category in which Chinese investment is not allowed.

“The iQiyi’s case is currently under review by the Investment Commission, which has sought the opinion of the Ministry of Culture,” Cheng said. “Our response would be that we have to protect our right to broadcast our own cultural content. China has yet to allow Taiwanese OTT operators to offer services in China. All these factors need to be taken in consideration as the commission reviews the case.”

She said the government wants to develop OTT services as they are a great opportunity to transform the broadcasting and television industry.

“In addition to the subsidies and prizes that are already available for people working in the broadcasting and film industries, we hope to expand the investment from the National Development Fund in these two industries,” she said.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Su Chiao-hui (蘇巧慧) said that the ministry should review dramas and movies produced by OTT providers for the Golden Bell Awards or the Golden Horse Award nominations.

The US drama series House of Cards, one of the most popular series on Netflix, an OTT provider, has received Golden Globe Awards, Primetime Emmy Awards and other recognition, she said.

National Communications Commission (NCC) spokesperson Wong Po-tsung (翁柏宗) said that the commission is not planning to draft specific laws to regulate OTT service providers, as the majority of nations worldwide are light-handed when it comes to regulating Internet content.

One has to abide by the current regulations if the case involves Chinese investment, Wong said.

However, the NCC is considering relaxing broadcasting regulations so that television channels and OTT service are regulated along the same lines, he said.

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