Thu, Jun 07, 2018 - Page 3 News List

NCC unveils framework to guide TV channel rules

VARYING REQUIREMENTS:An NCC specialist said that standards stipulated by cable operators have to meet fair competition rules and not harm consumers’ rights

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

The National Communications Commission (NCC) yesterday unveiled a framework that would be used to evaluate the rules governing changes to channel lineups stipulated by cable television system operators, as part of the commission’s efforts to prevent disputes between channel and cable system operators.

Cable systems operators are obligated to comply with Article 37 of the Cable Radio and Television Act (有線廣播電視法), which requires them to stipulate fair, reasonable and unbiased standards when they add any channel to the channel lineup or remove it. The same article requires that such standards should be submitted to the commission three months prior to their implementation.

“We have found that the standards stipulated by each cable system operator vary considerably and decided to specify a framework for them to consult and follow,” commission spokesperson Wong Po-tsung (翁柏宗) said.

The commission preliminarily approved the draft of the framework yesterday, Wong said, adding that it still needs to receive input from stakeholders and make adjustments accordingly before implementing the framework.

The stakeholders include channel operators, cable system operators, experts and civic groups, he said.

The framework lists four aspects that cable operators must clearly state in their standards, including the general provisions, feasible indicators used to arrange the channel list, procedures adopted to review a channel’s inclusion in or removal from a channel lineup and supplementary articles.

“We hope that all cable operators will fully disclose this information, so that channel operators will know the standards before they engage in negotiations with cable system operators,” commission specialist Niu Hsin-ren (牛信仁) said.

One of the disputes that the commission recently arbitrated was between Formosa TV (FTV) and Taiwan Broadband Communications (TBC), in which the latter removed the former from its channel lineup because the two failed to reach an agreement on content authorization fees.

Asked how the framework would reduce the same type of disputes, Wong said that channels might be asked to provide valid TV rating reports as indicators for any changes to the channel list.

Cable operators might also be asked to list the measures they would adopt to ensure cultural diversity and comply with the nation’s cultural policies, Wong said.

If the standards stipulated by cable operators are deemed to disrupt fair competition and harm consumers’ rights, the commission is authorized to demand that they make corrections by a prescribed deadline, Niu said.

Asked if the framework would allow the commission to use measures other than arbitration to settle disputes similar to the one between FTV and TBC, Wong said that it depends if the public wants to amend Article 55 of the Cable Radio and Television Act, which authorizes the commission to arbitrate disputes between channel and cable system operators.

The framework could take effect before the end of this year should all the required administrative procedures proceed smoothly, a commission official said.

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