The National Communications Commission (NCC) yesterday made public the principles that cable system operators must follow when making channel lineup adjustments.
The principles were drawn to minimize disputes between cable system operators and channel operators due to channel lineup adjustments, including whether to remove or add a channel to the list, or move a certain channel to the head or back of the lineup, commission spokesman Wong Po-tsung (翁柏宗) said.
However, the commission reiterated that it would not intervene in any business negotiations regarding content authorization fees or profit distribution, Wong said.
The commission identified the need to publish the principles because cable operators make their own rules when making channel adjustments, Wong said, adding that each operator uses different standards.
Some of the rules are even too abstract for channel operators to follow, resulting in disputes, he said.
In November last year, Formosa TV (FTV) wanted to include its news channel — FTV News — in the lineup of Chunghwa Telecom’s multimedia-on-demand (MOD) system.
Kbro, the MOD system’s major competitor, then removed two channels from its cable system channel lineup in a seemingly retaliatory move.
Another highly publicized case is a dispute over content authorization fee between Taiwan Broadcast Communications (TBC) and FTV, which resulted in TBC subscribers being unable to access FTV News.
Based on the principles stipulated by the NCC, cable system operators must fully disclose the rules that they use to change channel lineups. They should use fair and reasonable standards to review applications from channel operators requesting to be included in the channel lineup, and should not deny requests from channel operators without any legitimate reason.
Possible indicators that can be used to determine if a channel should be included in a lineup include objective and credible ratings reports; whether it produces programs for ethnic minorities, children and young people; whether it has won prestigious awards; and whether it produces a lot of its own programs.
Likewise, the rules used to adjust a channel lineup must also include conditions under which cable operators can remove a channel, including bad credit ratings and records of penalties from the commission in the past three years.
Cable operators could consult opinions from consumer rights groups or other civic groups when adjusting channel lineups.
Should cable system operators and channel operators fail to settle a dispute, both sides can seek to resolve them through legal action.
In other news, the commission said that it does not rule out reinvestigating the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) sale of Broadcasting Corp of China (BCC) to the former (KMT) legislator Jaw Shaw-kong (趙少康) in 2007, following evidence released by the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office that the party might have control over the personnel serving on the BCC’s board.
This would mean that BCC has contravened regulations banning political parties, the government and the military from investing in or managing media outlets.