Fri, May 06, 2016 - Page 3 News List

NCC touts draft convergence acts

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

The incoming Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration should not be so arrogant as to simply disregard the draft acts the National Communications Commission (NCC) formulated to address the issues raised by digital convergence, NCC Chairperson Howard Shyr (石世豪) said yesterday.

The five dract acts, covering electronic communication, telecom infrastructure and resources, cable systems, telecom services and terrestrial television, were designed to replace the Radio and Television Act (廣播電視法), Satellite Broadcasting Act (衛星廣播電視法), Cable Television Act (有線電視法) and Telecommunications Act (電信法).

“The four acts are outdated and do not behoove Taiwan as a nation that is ruled by the law. The new acts were drafted after reflection on the communication policies and trade agreements that have been implemented by the international community and the experience that we have gained over the years. They can be enforced,” Shyr said.

“We did not stipulate the acts out of nothing or fabricate the entire thing by ourselves based on any particular political conviction. If legislators think they can just master the five different acts in one day, we might as well throw them all into the wastepaper basket and burn them because it would prove that these acts are worthless,” Shyr added.

The new administration should consider passing the five draft acts into law if it finds any value in them, he said.

Shyr made the remarks after the Cabinet’s weekly meeting yesterday passed the draft acts, following a review lasting more than five months.

Shyr said that Taiwan has been actively pursuing participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which bans its members from requiring businesses to use or place computing facilities in their territories as a precondition for conducting business.

The commission took this factor into consideration when drafting the five acts, he said, adding that the stipulations of the TPP have ended the debate over whether the government should regulate over-the-top (OTT) content service providers.

“Taiwan can choose to join or not to join the TPP. If we choose the former, we need to follow the rules and restructure the industry. I suggest that the ruling party see what the real problem is and take full responsibility for resolving it,” he said.

Although the draft acts do not regulate OTT services, Shyr said that this does not mean that the government cannot do anything about OTT service operators such as Netflix.

OTT operators have to pay taxes if they earn revenue in Taiwan, he said, adding that operators are also subject to the stipulations of the Personal Information Protection Act (個人資料保護法) if they are collecting the personal data of Taiwanese.

If OTT services are offered using the nation’s telecom infrastructure and resources, operators would be asked to keep their networks stable and follow requirements on information security, he said, adding that service providers might also be accused of copyright infringement if they broadcast content without the authorization of content providers.

Chinese OTT providers are subject to the Act Governing Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area (臺灣地區與大陸地區人民關係條例), which bans Chinese service operators from registering businesses in Taiwan.

If the draft acts are implemented, Shyr said the nation’s telecom carriers would also be free to compete with OTT service providers from overseas if they provide open networks and do not offer bundle deals, and they would be unrestricted by their status of being Tier-I or Tier-II service operators.

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