The National Communications Commission (NCC) said yesterday it is planning to issue two new terrestrial television licenses, adding it would soon host a hearing on the new policy.
Commission spokesperson Chen Jeng-chang (陳正倉) said the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, which is in charge of planning the use of the nation’s broadcasting spectrum, had indicated earlier that a maximum of five new terrestrial television licenses would be issued. As the administrative authority executing the policy, the commission can decide on the formats that the licenses will be issued in, Chen said.
“The arrival of new television operators on the playing field could drastically reduce the advertising revenues of the current players, so we have decided that only two new licenses would be issued initially,” Chen said.
Chen said that one license would be offered to those interested in running a commercial television station and the other would be given for those planning to air educational or cultural programs as well as other programs related to public interest.
The former would be permitted to broadcast commercials, but the latter would not be allowed to do so and could only accept sponsorship, he said.
Current terrestrial television service operators, including Taiwan Television Enterprise, China Television Co, Chinese Television System, Formosa TV and Da Ai Television, would be barred from bidding for either of the two new licenses.
Chen said those obtaining the new licenses, which would be valid for nine years, must commit to broadcast only high-definition programs. Once the licenses expire, the owners must return their licenses, which would be opened for bidding again.
The commission has yet to decide if the current operators should be subjected to the same rule when their licenses expire, Chen said.
Chen added that the terrestrial TV operators utilize the radio spectrum, which is a limited resource owned by the government. It would be inappropriate for the current operators to own two licenses, he said.
“It would be meaningless if the new licenses are granted to those who can only broadcast programs in standard definition,” he said. “Those holding the terrestrial licenses now should focus on improving the quality of the programs offered on their networks currently.”
To obtain the commercial television license, Chen said the regulator’s commissioners would first review the qualifications of interested participants and allow them to bid for the license. Those seeking to gain the license to air public-interest programs would need to pass the commission’s qualification reviews.
Chen said the commission has yet to set a definite date when the new licenses would be issued, adding the commission must submit the plan for further review at the Executive Yuan first and then report it to the Legislative Yuan.