The National Communications Commission (NCC) yesterday issued an operational license to Elta Technology Co (愛爾達科技), a company set up by Chunghwa Telecom Co (中華電信), to broadcast the Beijing Olympic Games live on Chunghwa's multimedia-on-demand (MOD) service.
NCC spokesman Howard Shyr (石世豪) said that it was a special license issued to a channel operator that does not broadcast their programs on cable or satellite television systems. Chunghwa used to own one-third of Elta’s shares.
In order to broadcast the Games live, Elta is operating a sports channel called Hito that will offer simulcasts for selected Olympics events for Chunghwa’s MOD service subscribers.
The commission reviewed Elta’s application for an operational license and confirmed Elta as a sports channel operator. Previously, it had rejected Elta’s application based on rules in the Cable Television Law (有線廣播電視法) that forbid political parties, the government or the military to operate a television channel or other media.
Elta, the commission had earlier said, was unable to operate a sports channel because one third of its shares were owned by a telecoms company that has the government as its largest shareholder. That ruling made Chunghwa decide to sell its holding in Elta. Elta then resubmitted the application to the NCC for another review.
The commission ruled yesterday that five operational licenses be granted to Elta, provided that the 2.9 percent of its shares indirectly owned by government pension funds are sold within three months.
And since the programs will be broadcast on MOD, a media platform that is not mentioned in the Cable Television Law, the commission could not issue the same type of license given to broadcasters that deliver their programming via cable and satellite television systems.
Shyr said that Elta was expected to provide the service after the license was issued. If it decided to discontinue the operation of the channel, it must then submit an application to NCC at least three months prior to the cancelation, he said. Elta would be fined from NT$100,000 to NT$1 million should it violate this rule.
Elta had indicated earlier that the license was to be used to broadcast the Olympics and would not continue to be used following the Games. The NCC ruling puts Elta in a dilemma as to whether to deal with indirect government shareholding for a service it intends to offer only during the Olympic Games.