The National Communications Commission (NCC) yesterday said it intends to rule on ERA Communications’ purchase of Next TV before the end of the year.
Next Media’s debt-ridden network was sold to ERA in April.
By law, the transaction can only take effect after securing the commission’s approval.
The commission held a public hearing yesterday on the sale and said it was concerned that ERA chairman Lien Tai-sheng (練台生) owned or served as an agent for too many TV companies.
The commission asked Lien’s group to turn the promises it made at the hearing into written commitments before they would review the transaction again.
Local Chinese-language media reported that Fubon Financial Holding Co chairman Daniel Tsai (蔡明忠) had also tried to purchase Next TV.
Prior to his purchase of the cable TV systems previously owned by Kbro Co, Tsai promised to not establish any news, financial or shopping channels within three years after the 2010 acquisition was approved by the NCC. That statute of limitations expired last month.
NCC spokesperson Yu Hsiao-cheng (虞孝成) said the commission was reviewing Lien’s responses, adding that it hopes to rule on the case before the new year.
While acknowledging the expiration of the statute of limitations imposed on Tsai, Yu said that it did not mean Tsai could start buying or setting up television channels.
These actions would still need to be approved by the commission, he said.
“So far, we have not received any application,” Yu said.
“Next TV is owned by a foreign investor, and any transaction involving foreign investors must be reviewed by the commission as well as the Investment Commission,” said Chan Yi-lien (詹懿廉), a specialist at the NCC’s communication management department, adding that Next TV had denied that it would be resold to another buyer.
She said Lien had promised to recruit enough employees for Next TV and assured the commission that the news departments of Next TV and ERA TV would operate independently.
In other developments, Yu confirmed that Chunghwa Telecom and Taiwan Mobile completed their payments of tender bonds for spectrum blocks reserved for the 4G telecommunication service and had submitted their business plans to the NCC for review.
Regarding the sale of 3G service operator Vibo Telecom to Taiwan Star Cellular Corp, which also won a spectrum block for 4G services, Yu said the commission has yet to receive the formal application for the deal.