Thu, Jan 08, 2009 - Page 2 News List

NCC offers definition of household over disputes

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

The National Communications Commission (NCC) yesterday offered a definition of the word “household” to settle disputes connected to cable television service charges.

Currently, the household is the unit by which the service operators charge their customers. Based on the Cable Television Law (有線電視法), the monthly service fee is set by each county and is capped at NT$600 (US$18.20).

NCC Spokesperson Lee Ta-sung (李大嵩) said yesterday that customers are charged this way because of the Copyright Act (著作權法), which says content is authorized to be viewed by members of a family.

“The traditional definition of a household, however, has been challenged because of the various types of households that we see nowadays,” Lee said.

The types of household at the center of disputes include apartments, penthouses and student dormitories. Controversy arises when landlords divide these houses into several smaller rooms and rent them out to individuals. Whether these independent units should be considered households is the subject of debate.

In some cases, family members may live close by — either upstairs, downstairs, or next to each other. Some families decide to tear down partitions so that they can move around easily. They hold that they should be charged as a household.

Lee said that the NCC had consulted the definitions of a household in the Civil Act (民法), the Household Registration Act (戶籍法) and a copyright-infringement case reviewed by the Taoyuan District Court.

It concluded that a household, in terms of cable television services, should be defined as one where family members live together in a home that has only one name plate.

But given the modifications that can be made to a house and the different kinds of household members, if consumers can provide substantial evidence to prove that they are indeed using the service as a household, the service operators should not ask them to pay additional monthly fees.

Lee said the definition may not solve all controversies and said some may have to be resolved through an advance agreement between users and service providers.

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