Tue, Feb 11, 2014 - Page 3 News List

NCC says no draft digital convergence bill deadline

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

National Communications Commission Chairman Howard Shyr (石世豪) said yesterday that the draft of a digital convergence act (數位匯流法) would not be finalized next month, adding that the act must be formulated in ways that can solve the problems facing the local media industry.

“We never planned to submit a draft act in March,” Shyr said. “What we are concerned about is whether the act itself can practically remove the barriers to competition in the market and solve the problems we are dealing with at the moment.”

Shyr said that lawmakers had told the commission that it should spend more time listening to public opinion before formulating the articles in the proposed act.

To draft the act, Shyr said that the commission has laid out 12 major issues to be discussed at public hearings.

Some of them are controversial, including whether different telecoms should share the use of Chunghwa Telecom’s “last mile” infrastructure; whether political parties, the government and the military should be allowed to have stakes in media outlets, and how to prevent monopolization of the meda.

Shyr said that the commission aims to finish gathering opinions on the different issues this year, without committing to a deadline to submit a finalized draft act.

However, he said that the commission still has the first draft of an act drawn up in 2007, which contains 185 articles.

“We will not insist on which draft of the act we will use,” he said. “We hope that the public can reach a consensus on the different issues and based on that consensus we will stipulate new articles or change the existing ones. We want to be able to finalize the draft act as soon as possible, but we don’t want to compromise on the quality of the act either.”

Other important issues to be addressed by the proposed act include whether the government should lift the cap on the rates telecoms charge consumers and whether to continue regulating wholesale prices the telecoms charge each other.

The draft act will also aim to provide solutions to increase the number of homes that have access to optical fibers.

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