Mon, Oct 24, 2016 - Page 1 News List

NCC to follow US ruling on purchase

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner reflects a need to access visual content anywhere in the post-voice communication service era, the National Communications Commission (NCC) said yesterday, adding that the commission would monitor the US Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) ruling on the case and use it as reference when similar cases arise in Taiwan.

NCC spokesperson Wong Po-tsung (翁柏宗) said the transaction reflects the latest trend in the global market which provides consumers ubiquitous access to visual content.

“Consumers can watch visual content using fixed networks when they are at home and on their mobile phones when they are away from home,” Wong said. “Since 70 percent of online traffic is people watching videos, why would a telecom company not want to produce videos itself? A telecom company needs to have good content to increase traffic and increase its revenue.”

Wong said that if he were to review the case he would ask if Time Warner content would only be available to AT&T service subscribers and if other operators would be treated differently when negotiating terms for broadcasting content.

Wong added that the government should not ban vertical integration of media services, but must question if such a practice would benefit consumers.

“We will review the Federal Communication Commission’s ruling on the AT&T-Time Warner deal and use it as a reference when we look at similar cases in Taiwan,” he said.

The NCC is reviewing several media outlet acquisitions, including Asia Pacific Telecom Co’s (亞太電信) planned purchase of multiple systems operator Taiwan Broadband Communication, Far EasTone Telecommunications Co Ltd’s (遠傳電信) investment in China Network Systems Co (中嘉網路) and Taiwan Optical Platform Co’s (台灣數位光訊) proposed acquisition of Eastern TV.

Satellite Television Broadcasting Association secretary-general May Chen (陳依玫) said the deal was valuable because AT&T could also acquire several household names in US TV, such as CNN.

The FCC’s ruling would also reveal how the US wants to expand its cultural influence globally, she said.

If the US government were to approve the case, Chen said that it would be doing so to solidify its hegemonic status on the Internet, which explains why over-the-top content providers such as Netflix were given very favorable terms of investment under the administration of US President Barack Obama.

Chen said that media monopolization would definitely be an issue considered by US commissioners.

“Channel content can only be seen when a viewer is using a platform, whether that is cable TV or Youtube. Rather than looking at the influence of popular channels that AT&T is to gain through the deal, the regulatory agency should first consider that AT&T and Direct TV have merged and calculate the concentration of the programs on that merged platform,” she said.

Asked if it might be difficult for AT&T to secure approval for the deal now that it has access to broadband, a cable system and content, Chen said that she does not think so.

“The deal might not have been approved five years or 10 years ago because people had limited media choices. People can now choose from a wider variety of content providers, from both licensed and those that do not need a license,” she said.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top