The explanations provided by Chunghwa Telecom (CHT) for its decision not to renew the contract of Falun Gong-sponsored New Tang Dynasty Television (NTDTV) contradict information uncovered by the Taipei Times and raise questions about possible pressure from the Chinese or Taiwanese authorities.
Since 1998, CHT has relied on the ST-1 satellite to transmit TV signals to Taiwanese subscribers. With the satellite scheduled to cease operations in August, on Sept. 18, 2008, Chunghwa Telecom Singapore, a fully owned subsidiary of CHT, formed a joint venture with Singapore Telecommunications Ltd (SingTel) to build a new satellite, the ST-2. Information released by CHT showed that its subsidiary would take about a 38 percent stake in the joint venture, with SingTel taking the remaining 62 percent. CHT and SingTel also jointly operate ST-1.
In a press release dated April 5, SingTel announced that the assembly, integration and testing of ST-2 had been completed and that the satellite was being shipped to its launching site, where it is to be launched in the middle of this month.
Responding to criticism over the decision not to renew NTDTV’s contract, meaning its broadcasts will cease in August, CHT said the ST-2 had fewer transponders and therefore had lower bandwidth to ensure a quality service.
Industry sources said ST-1 carries 16 high-power Ku-band transponders and 14 medium-power C-band transponders.
However, CHT’s explanation contradicts what its partner said on April 5.
Bill Chang, executive vice president of the business group at SingTel, said at the time: “With 20 percent more transponder capacity and a wider coverage footprint than ST-1, ST-2 will help increase our capacity to meet growing customer demand for fixed and mobile satellite services in the broadcast, maritime and oil and gas industries.”
A Singaporean source confirmed to the Taipei Times yesterday that while ST-2 has more transponders, CHT’s share in the satellite has shrunk, meaning it may have been allocated less bandwidth than on ST-1.
Although this could explain why CHT will be unable to assign as many stations as it did before, it does not explain the decision to specifically select NTDTV to be dropped.
One possible explanation could be the stronger signal offered by ST-2. Both CHT and SingTel have said ST-2 will have higher transmitting power than ST-1. The wide-ranging footprint of C-band and Ku-band coverage will cover the Middle East, Central Asia, the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia.
“ST-2 is almost twice as powerful as our first satellite, which means our customers’ antennas don’t have to work as hard to pick up the signals,” Chang said.
Those comments may have caught Beijing’s attention.
Beijing considers Falun Gong a cult and has made it an illegal entity in China. It has successfully blocked — and sometimes intimidated other countries into doing so — broadcasts from NTDTV.
Although satellites like ST-1 and ST-2 do not service the Chinese market, a technique known as “signal hacking” reportedly allows direct access to channels and programs on any satellite that services the Asia-Pacific region.
In October 2009, Taiwanese lawmakers called for an investigation into ST-1 signal interruptions that began on Sept. 17 and peaked on Oct. 1, when the People’s Republic of China was celebrating its 60th anniversary. On Double Ten Day, NTDTV’s broadcasts were effectively taken off the air for the entire day.
ST-1’s low-band frequency covers all of Taiwan and 80 percent of China. The higher transmitting power of ST-2 could ostensibly make it more difficult for China to jam its signals, as it did in the lead-up to the 60th anniversary celebrations.
Although the Taipei Times could not confirm this information, Beijing may have pressured CHT or SingTel not to renew NTDTV’s contract.
Earlier this week, CHT denied there was any political reason behind its decision.
The incident occurs at a time when CHT is seeking to expand its operations in China. On March 28, the company announced the establishment of a wholly owned subsidiary, Chunghwa Telecom (China), in Shanghai, to promote its information and communications technology. This includes CHT’s intelligent energy-saving solutions iEN, which will be initially promoted in Fujian Province through cooperation with a provincial branch of state-owned China Mobile. CHT has also made a number of investments and joint ventures in China and is in negotiations with state-owned China Telecom Corp to enter the Chinese market.
ST-2 departed Kamakura, Japan, at the end of March and arrived in French Guiana on an Antonov An-124 cargo aircraft on April 5, Mitsubishi Electric Corp of Japan, the manufacturer of the satellite, said in a press release on April 6.
Industry watchers said ST-2 is to be launched at the Guiana Space Center in Kourou on an Ariane 5 orbital launch vehicle.
The satellite, which has an expected 15-year lifespan, will be in orbit at 88 degrees east longitude, Mitsubishi Electric said.
Contacted for further comment, Mitsubishi Electric said it could not provide specific details about ST-2, stating a non-disclosure agreement with its customer.
According to the CHT Web site, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications owns 35.41 percent of its shares.
LIABILITIES MULLED: New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi said Taipei would find out if the firm was legally registered, the guide was licensed and the weather was assessed The assets of Tian Da Local Nature Co are to be frozen after at least four people died after falling into the Beishi River (北勢溪) on an outing the company had organized on Saturday, the Taipei City Government said yesterday. Six people — two adults and four children — were washed away by a flash flood on the river in New Taipei City’s Hubaotan (虎豹潭) area. They were participating in a Nature Joy Camp outdoor activity with a group of 16 adults and 15 children led by a guide surnamed Su (蘇). As of 4:30pm yesterday, four of the missing had been
Taiwanese worked more hours than people in all but three other countries in the world last year, Ministry of Labor data showed. Singapore placed first in average hours worked among the 40 economies surveyed, with an average of 2,288 hours per worker last year, the data showed. The city-state was followed by Colombia with 2,172 hours — based on 2019 data — and Mexico with 2,124 hours, it showed. Taiwan came in fourth, with 2,021 hours, it showed. South Korean workers clocked the third-most hours in Asia, with 1,908 hours, followed by Japan with 1,598 hours, it showed. However, compared with 2019, the survey found
The US 7th Fleet yesterday confirmed that a US Navy ship transited the Taiwan Strait on Thursday and Friday. “The Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Dewey [DDG 105] conducted a Taiwan Strait transit in cooperation with Royal Canadian Navy [RCN] Halifax-class frigate, HMCS Winnipeg, October 14-15, 2021,” the US 7th Fleet said in a statement. “Dewey’s and Winnipeg’s transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the commitment of the United States and our allies and partners to a free and open Indo-Pacific. Cooperation like this represents the centerpiece of our approach to a secure and prosperous region,” it added. The transit marked the
‘COUNTERPRODUCTIVE’: The German, French and Singaporean missions said that Taiwan’s COVID-19 restrictions are hindering local projects and business operations Several foreign missions in Taiwan have urged the government to ease its strict COVID-19 border controls, which they say are hurting in-person exchanges and business operations. The missions made the appeal in response to media inquiries on how the border controls have affected their respective countries’ exchanges with Taiwan, amid growing concerns voiced privately by Taiwan-based foreign offices and businesses regarding the restrictions. Taiwan has maintained strict entry requirements since March last year, generally prohibiting most arrivals except for citizens and foreign residents, while it has required those who enter the country to undergo a stringent 14-day quarantine. Although the rules have been