The government could hold a cross-departmental meeting next week to resolve a dispute between New Tang Dynasty Television (NTDTV) and Chunghwa Telecom (CHT) over a decision not to renew the channel’s satellite broadcast lease, a source at the National Communications Commission (NCC) said yesterday.
The nation’s largest telecoms operator has rejected the TV station’s application to renew its lease, which will expire on Aug. 9, saying it would not have sufficient bandwidth to provide quality service after it switches from the ST-1 satellite currently used to a new ST-2 satellite in August, claiming it has fewer transponders.
A Singapore-based source told the Taipei Times earlier this month that the ST-2 has more transponders, but that CHT’s share in the satellite was smaller and that it therefore had been allocated less bandwidth.
While CHT says the decision is not politically motivated, NTDTV said it suspected the telecoms carrier did so to placate Beijing, as it is planning to expand its business operations in China.
Founded by the Falun Gong spiritual movement, which is banned in China, NTDTV relies on CHT for broadcasts services in Taiwan and China. Beijing has sought to stop pro-democracy broadcasts in the past and maintains a stringent regime of censorship.
Aside from NCC officials, the source said officials from the Ministry of Transportation and Communications would also attend the meeting, adding that the dispute was expected to be “resolved satisfactorily.”
Wu Ming-ren (吳銘仁), a specialist at the NCC, said that according to CHT, NTDTV uses C-band bandwidth. As parts of the C-band had been reserved for WiMAX services, this would reduce the bandwidth available for C-band utilization.
Because of the decrease in bandwidth, CHT had decided not to renew its contracts with three clients, including NTDTV, Wu said.
Wu said the commission had launched an investigation in accordance with Article 21 of the Telecommunications Act (電信法), which states that “a telecommunications enterprise shall provide services in a fair and non-discriminatory manner unless otherwise provided for herein.”
Deng Tien-lai (鄧添來), director general of the Department of Posts and Telecommunications, said he was not aware of such a cross-departmental meeting.
Deng said CHT had tried to find another local satellite operator to provide the same service for NTDTV. He added that as the ST-2 satellite would have more transponders using the Ku-band, NTDTV could perhaps switch from C-band to Ku-band.
The Ku frequency is designated specifically for satellite communication, meaning that there is no signal interference from other communications systems. Its higher frequency produces a signal with a shorter wavelength that is also more powerful and focused.
However, while the Ku-band is considered excellent for delivering spot beam coverage from the satellite, the coverage area is more limited than on the C-band and its higher frequency makes it more likely that the signal will be degraded by atmospheric conditions (or jammed) than C-band signals.
The Taipei Times also learned last night that representatives from NTDTV would hold a meeting with Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) on the matter on Tuesday.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY J. MICHAEL COLE