Fri, Aug 10, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Radio licenses draw massive bids

AUCTION AND DRAW:Taiwan Broadcasting CEO Ma Chang-sheng said the prices could encourage radio station personnel, who might undervalue themselves

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

The government on Wednesday morning sold a batch of radio licenses in a draw and an auction after almost 18 years of planning, with the highest bidder for a regional radio license paying more than NT$250 million (US$8.16 million).

Five regional radio licenses and 10 community radio licenses have been released, National Communications Commission (NCC) spokesperson Wong Po-tsung (翁柏宗) said.

The commission had planned to release 11 community radio licenses, but the license for Lienchiang County failed to attract any bidders, Wong said.

As regional radio licenses have greater commercial value than community radio licenses, people interested in obtaining a regional license must do so at an auction, while those interested in getting community radio licenses attend a draw, Wong said.

Prior to Wednesday, the commission had entrusted an independent committee with reviewing the qualifications and business proposals of the contenders before it finalized a list of candidates — 14 for regional radio licenses and 158 for community radio licenses — to enter the auction or the draw.

Five regional licenses cover Keelung and New Taipei City at 107.1 megahertz (MHz), Taipei and New Taipei City (102.5MHz), Taoyuan (101.1MHz), Hsinchu (98.7MHz) and Kinmen (106.3MHz).

The floor price for each regional license was calculated based on the region’s population, radio coverage rate, economy and other factors, the commission said.

The radio license for Taipei and New Taipei City had the highest floor price at NT$38.35 million, while Kinmen had the lowest, NT$9.97 million.

Floor prices for Keelung and New Taipei City, Taoyuan and Hsinchu were NT$19.15 million, NT$20.53 million and NT$18.44 million respectively.

Bids for the five regional licenses sold were much higher than their floor prices.

The highest bid was for the license for Taipei and New Taipei City, at NT$251.6 million, followed by Taoyuan (NT$211.6 million), Keelung and New Taipei City (NT$161.6 million), Hsinchu (NT$70.1 million) and Kinmen (NT$45.6 million).

Overall, the auction generated NT$740.5 million, the commission said.

“The bids have exceeded our estimates,” said Taiwan Broadcasting chief executive officer Ma Chang-sheng (馬長生), who commented on the results in an interview with the Taipei Times.

Ma was previously chairman of the Commercial Radio Broadcasting Association.

“We can only guess that those who bought a regional radio license represent big corporations, radio operators or those who have been waiting for this opportunity for years,” he said.

Some of the bids were eight to 10 times higher than the floor prices, he said, adding that expectations were to see bid prices only three times higher.

The bidder who secured the Taipei and New Taipei City license paid more than NT$200 million for it, which in the past was about the amount paid for a national broadcast license, Ma said, adding that how or how soon radio operators could redeem the cost was unknown.

Asked how the sales would affect the radio industry, Ma said the results might boost the self-confidence of radio station personnel, as they might underestimate their value.

The auction might have inadvertently raised the value of the radio industry, but whether it would spark innovative business models or generate radio programs remains to be seen, Ma said.

Some industry analysts said that the bids were high because of uncertainty over when the government would release more licenses.

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