Thu, Feb 01, 2018 - Page 3 News List

NCC approves Mao Te’s cable TV deal

MEDIA:Mao Te’s chairman has promised to maintain the independence of EBC’s news channels and retain media professionals to manage the network, the NCC said

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

An office building owned by Eastern Broadcasting Co in downtown Taipei is pictured yesterday.

Photo: Wang Yi-sung, Taipei Times

The National Communications Commission (NCC) yesterday approved Mao Te International Investment Co’s acquisition of Eastern Broadcasting Co (EBC), one of the nation’s leading cable TV stations.

The commission said that the company must submit a revised business plan based on the promises Mao Te chairman Chang Kao-hsiang (張高祥) made when he visited the commission’s office last week.

These include maintaining the independence of EBC’s news channels, retaining media professionals to manage the network, raising the annual program production cost from NT$300 million to NT$450 million (US$10.3 million to US$15.4 million) over six years and increasing the starting salary for employees to at least NT$30,000, commission spokesman Weng Po-tsung (翁柏宗) said.

These promises must be part of the network’s revised plan, which it has to submit to the commission for approval, Weng said.

Chang acquired EBC last year from its two largest shareholders — Eastern Media International and Carlyle Group, which held 27 percent and close to 65 percent of its stock respectively.

As the deal involved a foreign investor disinvesting in a local firm, it required the approval of the Investment Commission, which gave its okay yesterday afternoon.

In related news, cable system operators yesterday opposed the NCC’s proposal to adopt a tiered pricing system for charging subscribers, saying it would interfere with their right to handle their own property.

That would mean cable operators cannot deny channel operators the right to form their own channel packages for cable subscribers to choose from and to set the subscription fee for each channel, Cable Broadband Institute in Taiwan chairwoman Gloria Peng (彭淑芬) told a public hearing.

That would be an invasion of the right of cable system operators to handle their own property, as well as infringe on their freedom of speech, Peng said.

Taiwan Broadband Communications legal counsel Lin Chih-feng (林志峰) said that his company has invested NT$13 billion building cable systems and bandwidths.

“Should these facilities not be counted as our property? If the NCC cannot refuse any a la carte plan or ban channel operators from offering channel packages for subscribers, will that not be an invasion of our right to conduct business?” Lin said.

The NCC has recognized that channel operators should have the right to set channel subscription fees, instead of making it an exclusive right of cable system operators, EBC legal counsel Wang Chiu-ping (王秋萍) said, questioning how this constitutes invasion of cable operators’ right to handle their property and do business.

The NCC can revise the law and make this a legal right of channel operators, Wang added.

Channel operators have never received their fair share of the profits in their partnerships with cable systems, and this has not changed, despite the switch from analog to digital service, Satellite Television Broadcasting Association secretary-general May Chen (陳依玫) said.

“Cable operators have invested a lot to revamp their facilities, but now they have a chance to develop value-added services with their digital operation,” she said.

“They should start paying channel operators reasonable content fees,” she added.

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