Tue, Aug 25, 2009 - Page 4 News List

Broadcasters slam NCC amendment

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Radio and TV operators yesterday criticized the National Communications Commission (NCC) for its proposed amendment to the Satellite Radio and Television Act (衛星廣播電視法) that will include civic group representatives in the biennial evaluation of radio and television services.

They also opposed adopting quantifying measures in the performance review, whereby operators would be evaluated based on a list of items assigned different percentages.

“These measures, coupled with the administrative authority that either asks the service operators to rectify the situation or revokes their operating license, have the potential to infringe upon constitutionally protected freedoms of speech and broadcast,” said the representatives in a statement.

“The amendment intends to include unclearly defined civic groups to participate in the biennial evaluation, which may also have violated relevant regulations,” the statement said.

The representatives made several appeals to the NCC.

Aside from listing the qualifications of civic groups, the representatives asked the NCC to stipulate conditions for suspending broadcasts or revoking operating licenses.

UNJUST

Meanwhile, the commission must inform radio and TV operators about the actions they could take for what they perceive as unjust rulings from NCC.

The representatives said that should the operator fail the evaluation, the NCC could ask it to improve the situation first before issuing a fine or suspending broadcasts.

The NCC must also renew the licenses so long as an operator has followed the operational plan submitted to it, they said.

LEGISLATORS

The statement was issued after a hearing at the NCC yesterday morning, which was attended by about 70 radio and TV service operators as well as 14 legislators from the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and Democratic Progressive Party.

The legislators from both parties were also critical of the amendment, saying that it is a way for the NCC to expand its administrative authority.

In its defense, the NCC said that Article 8 in the Act authorized it to conduct a biennial evaluation on the radio and television service operators.

“In the past, the criteria used in the evaluation were not clear, and the amendment was meant to make them clear,” said Huang Chin-yi (黃金益), deputy director of the NCC’s Operational Administration Department.

Huang said that these items were set based on Article 159 in the Administrative Procedure Act (行政程序法), which requires the administrative authority to lay out consistent standards of execution.

“When the Government Information Office was still in charge of media oversight, it also invited representatives of nongovernmental organization to participate in evaluation, even though the Act never required that,” Huang said

The spirit of encouraging the participation of civic groups in the execution of public policy was also seen in the Consumer Protection Act (消費保護法).

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