Fri, Jun 22, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Market should decide Games broadcasts: NCC

WORLD CUP:The National Communications Commission questioned the appropriateness of a media regulator subsidizing the broadcast of international sports events

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

The National Communications Commission (NCC) yesterday expressed reservations about a proposal that it allocate funds to subsidize terrestrial television broadcasts of major international sporting events, following criticism that none of them are showing this year’s FIFA World Cup group-stage games.

ELTA TV paid NT$200 million (US$6.6 million) for full rights to broadcast the World Cup games in Taiwan. T

he network’s programs are only available to subscribers of Chunghwa Telecom’s multimedia-on-demand (MOD) and Hami Video services, or ELTA’s over-the-top (OTT) content service.

However, ELTA last week decided to allow the public to view the games on its OTT platform for free following complaints of system errors, lagging or slow transmission.

Subscribers of its OTT service were also granted a free extra month of service.

Among the nation’s terrestrial TV stations, only Chinese Television Service (CTS), a member of the public Taiwan Broadcasting System, is to broadcast the knockout rounds, for which it paid NT$30 million.

Sports experts said the situation has once again exposed the lack of interest among cable and terrestrial TV stations in airing major international sports competitions like the Olympics or the World Cup.

It also showed that the nation’s public media is not big enough to support the broadcast of these large sports events, they said.

They suggested that watching sports be listed a right of cultural citizenship, adding that some countries even guarantee the right of terrestrial television stations to bid for the right to broadcast such events.

“We respect the experts’ opinions, but we think the right to broadcast sports events should be decided through market mechanisms,” NCC spokesman Wong Po-tsung (翁柏宗) said.

The commission oversees the operations of broadcast media, and has reservations about the appropriateness of a media overseer subsidizing the broadcast of sports events like the World Cup, Wong said.

The Sports Administration could consider allocating funds to support the broadcast of such events, which would be considered a promotional expenditure, he added.

Although terrestrial television stations use radio spectrums — a state asset — and must fulfill certain obligations, whether they are obligated to broadcast sports events needs further discussion, he said.

“Most of the terrestrial television stations are suffering financially, and one should consider whether they could deal with such major undertakings,” he added.

The obligations of terrestrial television stations are limited to increasing service coverage in the nation’s remote areas, Wong said.

“The commission does not oversee the operation of any OTT platform. As ELTA has channels on the MOD system, and its OTT platform is an extension of its MOD service, the commission has reminded ELTA that it needs to protect viewers and fulfill its contractual obligations with consumers,” Wong said.

Controversies have never ceased since ELTA represented the nation in securing the right to broadcast the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The government reportedly subsidized the four main terrestrial television stations in broadcasting the 2012 London Olympics and 2016 Rio Olympics.

For the 2014 World Cup, ELTA had first authorized ERA TV to air the games on analog cable, terrestrial and satellite television channels.

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