An a-la-carte scheme for cable TV services will be implemented by 2017, National Communications Commission (NCC) Chairperson Howard Shyr (石世豪) said yesterday, adding that options are not limited to the ones that have been suggested by the commission.
Shyr made the statement while visiting cable television providers in Chiayi and Greater Tainan, where digital cable television subscription rates are higher than the national average.
Commission statistics show that the national digital cable service penetration rate was 38.95 percent in the third quarter of this year. However, the penetration rate in Chiayi was 55.48 percent and in Greater Tainan it was 57 percent.
The statistics proved to be a surprise to some, as most people had expected the north to be more interested in digital cable service.
Shyr met with the management of Kuo-Shen Cable TV and Shih-Hsin Cable TV, two of the main cable operators in Chiayi, who showed how they have tailored their services to meet the needs of elderly people in the community.
“We will definitely implement [an a la carte scheme], but the business models would be closely aligned with the needs of cable television service subscribers in different regions,” he said.
Cable subscribers pay a fixed fee of between NT$490 and NT$590 per month and more than 100 channels are available.
The commission set a goal of increasing the penetration rate of digital cable service to 100 percent by 2016. From 2017, cable service providers must include one package containing all the basic channels for a maximum of NT$200 per month and at least three other basic packages priced between NT$100 and NT$130 each.
If customers choose a combination of the basic channel packages, rates would be capped at NT$500 per month, with the aggregate number of basic channels not being less than what is currently available.
Shyr said the commission never said the four pricing plans it had proposed were the only options available for cable providers, adding that it has found other plans that can solve the urgent problems facing service provides and give consumers more flexibility in choosing a service plan.
“[Promoting the a-la-carte scheme] is not just a matter of technology or capital. It is about interacting with consumers and gaining their trust,” Shyr added. “Consumers would not only be able to accept a new service, but will also be given back the right to choose quality programming.”
Shyr said that the digital cable TV service and a la carte service scheme would enable service operators to provide more value-added services. This would gradually reduce the percentage of revenue gathered from the audience, which would in turn mean that consumers pay a more reasonable fee for cable television.