The National Communications Commission (NCC) yesterday conditionally approved applications from West Coast Cable TV Co and VeeTime to offer cable services in new markets.
Currently, many of the cable TV markets in Taiwan have only one operator offering services, meaning that these firms have enjoyed monopolies for years.
Therefore, the commission’s conditional approval marked a major step toward ending monopolized operations of the cable TV services.
NCC spokesperson Yu Hsiao-cheng (虞孝成) said VeeTime previously offered cable TV service in Greater Taichung’s Dali District (大里) and had applied to expand its operations to include the rest of Greater Taichung and Nantou County.
West Coast, on the other hand, mainly operated in Shalu District (沙鹿), Yu said, adding that it had applied to operate in a service area that covers the entire Greater Taichung area.
According to the commission, the chairpersons of VeeTime and West Coast had personally answered questions from NCC commissioners about their firms’ proposals.
Both had promised to offer only digital cable television services in their respective areas and had committed to offering consumers “a la carte” service plans by 2017, which is the timeline set by the NCC for such packages to be made available.
Both operators also said they would make 100 megabits-per-second (Mbps) Internet broadband services available to customers.
VeeTime further promised to loan each viewing household two set-top boxes without deposit or other charges.
West Coast said that it would lower charges for digital cable service subscribers if the Greater Taichung Government asks it to reduce its analog cable service charges.
Huang Chin-yi (黃金益), director of the commission’s communication management department, said the companies have the necessary expertise to install the required infrastructure based on the plans they proposed.
The firms can then apply to have their cable services inspected by the commission when they have completed installation of more than 30 percent of the required infrastructure, Huang added.
Huang said that the commission is also evaluating four similar applications, which plan to offer services in Taipei, New Taipei City (新北市), Greater Kaohsiung and Taoyuan County.
In related news, the NCC decided to fine Next TV News and Taiwan Television NT$200,000 and NT$100,000 respectively for violating media regulations during their coverage of a fire in January.
Both TV stations provided live coverage of the incident, with footage showing a victim being devoured by flames after waiting to be rescued for about 15 minutes.
The NCC said that the channels had violated the Satellite Broadcasting Act (衛星廣播電視法) and the Radio and Television Act (廣播電視法) for airing footage that may impair the physical or mental health of children or juveniles.