The National Communications Commission (NCC) yesterday said that it has received a complaint from an agent representing Deutsche Welle’s (DW) German-language channel accusing Chunghwa Telecom of stipulating an unfair clause in the contract governing broadcasting on its multimedia-on-demand (MOD) system.
The commission said it would determine whether the complaint is a matter of civil dispute or the contract has contravened media regulations.
The MOD system broadcasts DW’s English and German-language channels. Portico Media is the agent representing DW’s English-language channel, while its German-language channel is represented by Taiwan Interactive Television (TITV).
The dispute between Chunghwa Telecom and TITV began after the two were scheduled to renew the contract at the end of last year. TITV refused to sign the contract on the grounds that it contains a clause that authorizes Chunghwa Telecom to terminate the broadcast of the channel or deny an application from the channel operator if the channel and the MOD system are in dispute, even though the contract remains valid.
TITV is the only agent that refused to renew its contract with Chunghwa Telecom last year.
Chunghwa Telecom has since Tuesday last week suspended the broadcast of DW’s German-language channel, as it failed to obtain authorization to air the channel’s content from TITV.
The German Institute Taipei and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have expressed their concerns over the matter, Chinese-language media reported.
However, NCC spokesman Wong Po-tsung (翁柏宗) said that the agency did not receive official notification from any government agencies.
“We have received the complaint from TITV, and have requested Chunghwa Telecom and TITV to state their positions in writing. Our staff is also trying to determine if this is a business dispute, which should be arbitrated through the Civil Code, or if the contract has indeed breached the Regulations for Administration on Fixed Network Telecommunications Business (固定通信管理規則),” Wong said.
Article 60-1 of the regulations requires that the MOD system provide “fair and unbiased slotting allowance for rental platforms.”
The commission would also ascertain the number of MOD service subscribers that were affected after Chunghwa Telecom removed the DW German-language channel from its lineup and whether the telecom has received complaints from its subscribers, Wong said.
The commission would not intervene in or arbitrate the dispute as it did with a content authorization fee dispute between Formosa TV and Taiwan Broadband Communications (TBC) last year, he added.
The commission applied the Cable Radio and Television Act (有線廣播電視法) to settle the Formosa-TBC dispute, whereas the regulations would be used to handle the dispute between Chunghwa Telecom and TITV, Wong said.
TBC must have its changes to the lineup approved by the NCC, while Chunghwa Telecom only needs to send a copy of its channel lineup to the commission for reference.
Chunghwa Telecom said that the terms of its contract with TITV are the same as those in its contract with Portico Media.
“MOD is an open platform, but not a public platform. The company is responsible to its shareholders. Should there be any dispute between the company and the channel operator, both sides must limit the stakeholders’ liability and protect consumers,” the telecom said.
The clause protested by TITV was also present in last year’s contract, to which TITV agreed, the telecom said, adding that the same clause was also in the contracts with other channel operators.
This is not TITV’s first dispute with Chunghwa Telecom. In July last year, TITV and the telecom failed to reach an agreement over a scheme governing profit distributions, which caused subscribers of the MOD system’s family luxury plan to lose access to content on 44 channels represented by TITV.
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