The Directorate General of Telecommunications (DGT) confirmed yesterday that the ban on the commercial use of cable-television channel 16 has been lifted on an experimental basis.
The agency made the announcement in response to a newspaper report that the government had agreed to open the channel for commercial use under pressure from lawmakers and cable-TV operators.
"The report was not correct. We decided to open channel 16 mainly because of market demand. The opening has nothing to do with pressure from any interest groups," said Hung Jen-kuei (洪仁桂), a DGT department chief.
Hung said cable-TV channels should be used efficiently. In the past, he said, the DGT had pushed for the opening of channel 16 for commercial use, but the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) opposed the proposal on flight safety grounds.
Hung said channel 16 has not been used in many areas adjacent to domestic airports.
The channel can be opened to cable TV operators in those regions, he said, adding that similar practices have been adopted in the US, Singapore and Hong Kong.
After further discussions with the CAA, Hung said, administration Director-General Chang Kuo-cheng (張國政) has agreed to open the channel on an experimental basis until the end of August next year.
According to Hung, channel 16 was mainly reserved for aviation telecommunications testing. The opening of the channel for cable-TV operators is not expected to affect flight safety, he said.
However, he acknowledged that the aviation communications systems may be affected in some areas. Therefore, he added, channel 16 will not be opened for commercial use in those areas, including Taipei County's Hsinchuang township, Tainan City's southern district, Tainan County's Yungkang City, Penghu, Kinmen and Green Island.
Chang said he has asked the telecommunications police to step up monitoring during the experimental period to ward off any possible electromagnetic interference in order to maintain flight safety.
The DGT began to accept applications for the use of channel 16 on June 20, but so far no cable TV operators have applied, Hung said.