Thu, Aug 18, 2011 - Page 2 News List

NCC approves proposal to redraw cable service areas

LIMITS:The commission said it had no plans to lift the restriction that caps the number of subscribers to any cable TV service as this would encourage monopolies

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff Reporter

The nation’s 51 cable TV service areas will soon become history, with the National Communications Commission (NCC) yesterday approving a plan that will define service areas either by city or county limits by the end of the year.

“Currently, Taipei City has nine cable service operators, and each can only offer its service in a certain administrative district,” commission spokesperson Chen Jeng-chang (陳正倉) said. “However, after the changes are made, Taipei City as a whole will become one service area in and of itself, allowing cable operators to service any district within Taipei City.”

According to the commission, the number of administrative zones in the country had dropped to 23 cities and counties after the five special municipality elections last year. The number of cable service areas will also be reduced accordingly, it said.

Chen said the objective of the plan was to terminate the monopolies that prevail in most service areas. Among the 51 service areas in the country, 39 of them have only one service operator.

However, the commission said it had no plans to lift the restriction that caps the number of subscribers to any cable TV service to no more than one-third of the total number of cable service subscribers in the nation.

A number of cable service operators have urged the government to remove the cap, saying it was easy to hit the limit.

“We have considered issues related to media concentration and decided to take a progressive approach on this issue,” Chen said. “Cable service operators should rely on their performance to demonstrate to the public that they would not attempt to dictate to public opinion by unilaterally deciding what types of channels would be included in their service.”

Chen added that personally, he did not support the idea of raising the cap, nor did other NCC commissioners consider the proposal viable.

As to the issue that the government seems to favor existing cable service providers, Chen said the commission was still working on the details of the planned changes.

For those applying to provide services in a new service area, the commission is debating whether they should be given a completely new license, while making adjustments to their operational plans, he said.

Chen added that the commission might still need to hold two or three more meetings to resolve other relevant issues.

The commission hopes to unveil regulations governing applications to offer cable TV services in the new service areas in October.

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