Lawmakers at the legislature’s Transportation Committee yesterday urged the National Communications Commission (NCC) to provide clarity on viewership figures to aid its review of the draft broadcasting media monopolization prevention and diversity preservation act (廣播電視壟斷防制與多元維護法).
The committee was scheduled to hold its first review of the NCC-drafted act and is also considering competing proposals from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislative caucus as well as from Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Yang Li-huan (楊麗環).
The main difference between the NCC’s version of the act and those proposed by the DPP and Yang is that the former uses viewership rates as the key gauge of a media outlet’s influence, while the other proposals use market share.
In yesterday’s session, the committee only managed to alter the name of the act, changing “broadcasting media” to “media.” It also approved the title of the first chapter of the act before deciding to review the rest of it at another time.
During the session, many lawmakers questioned the NCC’s use of a media outlet’s viewership rate to calculate influence.
DPP Legislator Tsai Chi-chang (蔡其昌) said that viewership rates can only be measured as “high” or “low” unless viewed in terms of the overall market.
“If the entire market is 20 percent and a media outlet accounts for 1 percent, then the outlet’s influence is quite small,” Tsai said.
He said that legislators have no way to evaluate the thresholds proposed by the commission if it does not reveal how it arrived at the figures.
KMT Legislator Lo Shu-lei (羅淑蕾) and DPP Legislator Yeh Yi-jin (葉宜津) also asked the commission to explain its methods of calculating viewership rates.
Yeh said that the committee could not give the NCC free rein to exercise its administrative authority in this matter and insisted that the commission reveal its method within two weeks.
In response, NCC Chairman Howard Shyr (石世豪) said that he would put the commission’s formula for calculating viewership rates on the agenda of an NCC commissioners’ meeting next week, and would deliver it to the committee for review once it is approved by the commissioners.