Lawmakers and radio operators yesterday urged the National Communications Commission (NCC) to reconsider its revision to regulations governing the simultaneous broadcasting of programs on different radio stations because it would restrict the development of the broadcasting industry.
The NCC’s current rules were issued by the Government Information Office in 1997.
In its revision to the rules, the NCC proposed limiting the simultaneous broadcast of programs to 50 percent of programming for medium-power stations and 70 percent for small-power stations. Radio operators are also banned from airing simultaneous broadcasts between 7am and 9am, 12pm and 1pm, and 5pm and 9pm, which the commission said should be used to air “local programs” that are more in synch with the founding purpose of the radio stations.
Based on the Radio and Television Broadcasting Act (廣播電視法), a radio operator must file an application if it wants to air simultaneous broadcast programs. Under the new rules, a permit to air the programs is valid for one year. Any radio station with three or more violations for airing a simultaneous broadcast program or advertisement without permission within two years before it filed the application is banned from airing such a program or advertisement for a year.
However, the revision drew criticism from lawmakers and radio operators, saying the revised rules would only stifle the development of the broadcasting industry once implemented.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Duan Yi-kang (段宜康) said the NCC should explain why it set different limits for simultaneous broadcasts for medium-powered and low-powered radio stations, as well as why the radio operators cannot broadcast such programs during prime-time hours.
DPP Legislators Chen Ting-fei (陳亭妃) also questioned how the NCC would define local programs.
DPP Legislator Su Chen-ching (蘇震清) said that the radio operators should not ask for permission to air simultaneous broadcasts, but should simply send their schedules to NCC as a reference.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Vance Wu (吳育昇) said the new rules appeared to do more to restrict radio operators than help them improve, while Commercial Radio Broadcasting Association chairman Ma Chang-sheng (馬長生) questioned why the NCC had to spend so much time and energy enforcing limits on radio operators, which cannot compete with TV stations.
“The simultaneous broadcast programs can gather resources from different stations, which can then produce quality programs,” he said. “We don’t understand why the NCC thought society would be in danger because of that.”
In response, NCC Commissioner Chung Chi-hui (鍾起惠) said the commission decided to revise the rules because it wanted to stop pharmaceutical firms from running embedded marketing for drugs, in violation of the Pharmaceutical Affairs Act (藥事法).
In view of the controversies over the revision, NCC Deputy Chairperson Chen Jeng-chang (陳正倉) said the commission would continue to communicate with radio operators to fine-tune the new rules.