Legislators attacked the central government yesterday over its recommendation for a so-called "tiering" system in Taiwan's cable television industry -- which officials said would safeguard consumers' rights in the wake of a major row between cable operations and channel agents.
The system would allow consumers to choose between different levels of service, with greater channel selection meaning higher subcription costs.
But lawmakers said the government should not subsidize the plan, adding that emphasis should be placed instead on curing what they said is a monopoly market that has ignited growing public discontent with the cable TV industry.
Speaking at the Legislative Yuan yesterday, GIO director Chiao Yi (
"The main purpose [of the initiative] is to give consumers the autonomy to choose the cable TV programs they want to watch. The fees they pay are thus contingent upon the bundles of channels they watch," said Chiao.
Chiao said the initiative was aimed at curing the problems with current cable TV operations, which are unable to handle tiering. Customers are not given any choice and receive the same bundle of channels for a flat fee, regardless of their interests.
The new subscription package will widen viewers' options. Aside from offering a single basic tier, the GIO intends to group additional channels on premium tiers at a per channel rate.
Claiming the initiative will benefit consumers, Chiao said the government plans to subsidize installation of the set-up boxes, as the cost of the machines around NT$3,000 per unit? -- a price he said might lessen subscribers' willingness to support the plan.
The written report Chiao submitted to legislature's education and culture committee also states the new initiative will allow cable operators to rationalize business costs.
Although agreeing in part to the GIO initiative, lawmakers criticized the subsidy plan as "unfair."
KMT lawmaker Lee Chin-an (
Lee also said cable operators should pay for the installation of the set-up-box. "It's not logical to argue that without the government's subsidy, consumers' rights would be damaged," he said.
Another lawmaker, Lai Shyh-bao (
Meanwhile, lawmakers said the tiering system was not a panacea to correct Taiwan's cable TV operations. They urged the government to tackle the monopoly of the market by conglomerates in order to solve what they claimed are deep-rooted problems in the cable TV industry.
Rebar Corporation's Eastern Multimedia (Eastern) and United Communications of the Koo's Group (United), two of Taiwan's largest and most politically powerful companies, control over two-thirds of the cable TV operations. In Taipei they control about 88 percent of the market.
When asked why the commission turned a deaf ear to complaints about uncompetitive practices in local cable TV operations, Lai said, "it's because the forces behind [these conglomerates] are rich and powerful."
DPP legislator Fan Sun-lu (
EXTRADITION DEAL? A former prosecutor said that the US Department of Justice might ask Taiwan to extradite the men in return for the US doing something in return The US won arrest warrants for three Taiwanese men — a former president of China-based Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit Co (福建晉華) and two engineers — charged with stealing secrets from Idaho-based Micron Technology Inc. The effort to apprehend the three men — former Fujian Jinhua president Stephen Chen (陳正坤), and Ho Chien-ting (何建廷) and Wang Yong-ming (王永銘), who work for Taiwan-based United Microelectronics Corp (UMC, 聯電) — is notable because they were charged in 2018 in the first case filed under the “China initiative” of US President Donald Trump’s administration targeting trade-secret theft, hacking and economic espionage. However, legal experts have said
There was a net reduction last year in the number of Taipei residents and this year is expected to set a 23-year high for population decline in the city, Ministry of the Interior statistics released yesterday showed. From January to last month, 18,861 more people moved out of Taipei than moved into the capital, an increase of 7,000 from the same period last year, the data showed. That is a 7.2 percent decrease in the city’s population since the start of the year, the biggest drop in both percentage and total number among all municipalities and counties nationwide, the data showed. The data
COUNCILS CLASH: The Mainland Affairs Council said a new office in Hong Kong is to assist people with issues related to investment, study and employment in Taiwan The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) yesterday denied an accusation by the Hong Kong-Taiwan Economic and Cultural Co-operation and Promotion Council that its Taiwanese counterpart in the territory was “interfering with Hong Kong’s internal affairs.” The Hong Kong council leveled the accusation after Taipei’s Taiwan-Hong Kong Economic and Cultural Co-operation Council this month announced it would establish a Taiwan-Hong Kong Services and Exchanges Office to facilitate humanitarian aid for Hong Kongers. The new office is scheduled to begin operations on Wednesday. The MAC yesterday asked the Hong Kong council to “not misinterpret” the government’s intentions. The two Taiwan-Hong Kong councils were established in 2010 to
IRRESPONSIBLE ATTITUDES? Some experts say the NHI system does not do enough to educate the public, or pay doctors to talk to patients, about healthy lifestyles While the life expectancy of Taiwanese newborns in 2018 reached 80.69 years, the number of years people spent in poor health hit a record high at 8.41 years, Ministry of Health and Welfare statistics showed on Saturday. Healthy life expectancy is calculated by a person’s life expectancy minus the time they spend in ill health, such as the loss of mobility, disabilities and chronic disease, based on medical records and calculations about the years they live with disabilities. The number of years that Taiwanese spend in poor health is increasing slowly, but steadily, rising by 0.46 years, or five-and-a-half months, between 2012