Fri, Sep 14, 2018 - Page 4 News List

Majority unaware of cable tiered-pricing scheme: poll

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Only about 10 percent of respondents in a 21st Century Foundation survey knew that the government plans to implement a tiered-pricing scheme for cable service operators, despite the promise that the scheme would enable viewers to choose their TV channels.

The scheme is to be implemented in 2020.

The survey, conducted from July 7 to July 17, found that most respondents preferred the bundling scheme that is used at present to a tiered-pricing plan.

A total of 60.9 percent of respondents said they do not have any interest in paying more for additional channels, while 39.1 percent said they are willing to pay additional fees for channels they like watching, and would spend an average of NT$153.65 per month for those extra channels.

If the tiered-pricing plan is implemented, 39.8 percent of respondents said that their monthly cable fees would increase, while 42.4 percent said it would not affect them.

In addition, 22 percent said the scheme would positively influence the quality of the channels, whereas 28.1 percent said it would have a negative effect.

About 26 percent said the scheme would not affect channel quality.

The remaining 24 percent said they did not know what possible effects the new scheme would have on channel quality.

The National Communication Commission (NCC) has said the scheme would give cable service subscribers a greater say in the channels they want to watch, foundation executive director Jessica Chou (周韻采) said

“However, one has to ask if people will actually be able to choose the channels themselves or if they will only be able to choose the options that the NCC made available for them,” she said.

If cable operators were to allow a flexible channel lineup, they would be better able to compete with over-the-top content providers, Chou added.

The commission’s policy of giving people the right to choose their TV channels is not likely to change, former NCC commissioner Jason Ho (何吉森) said, adding that this would in turn reveal the value of the channels.

How cable operators form different channel packages and how the prices for different channel packages are set could still be adjusted, Ho said.

The commission’s policy would meet resistance if most people do not know much about it or feel that it would not make any difference, former NCC commissioner Katherine Chen (陳憶寧) said.

The only way for the commision to relax its control over cable operators is if operators offer more flexible channel lineups, she said.

“Under a flexible arrangement, more channels would be included in the channel lineup, and people could choose the content they want to access,” Chen said.

Ku lin-lin (谷玲玲), an associate professor at National Taiwan University’s Graduate Institute of Journalism, said that the issue of whether the tiered-pricing plan should be implemented is moot, as most cable service subscribers would prefer paying a flat rate for channels that are bundled together for them.

“The increase in over-the-top content subscribers shows that the viewing habits of consumers are changing, and most cable operators have already begun to develop value-added services, such as telemedicine,” Ku said.

More research could be done to identify markets for different services, Ku added.

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