Tue, Jan 22, 2019 - Page 4 News List

OTT rules to be practical, feasible

STIMULUS:An EU rule that requires OTT operators to dedicate at least 30 percent of their content to programs made in the bloc might not work in Taiwan, an official said

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

National Communications Commission Chairwoman Nicole Chan speaks at a meeting of the Legislative Yuan’s Transportation Committee in Taipei on Nov. 26 last year.

Photo: Fang Pin-chao, Taipei Times

The government aims to implement practical and feasible regulations to facilitate the development of local over-the-top (OTT) content this year, National Communications Commission (NCC) Chairwoman Nicole Chan (詹婷怡) said on Friday.

The commission last year published a green paper to gauge public opinion on several key issues regarding the nation’s communication policies, with one of them being whether OTT operators should be governed by the same regulations as broadcast media and cable systems.

Having finished collecting opinions on the issue, the commission has decided that it would not regulate OTT operators through the issuance of operational licenses, Chan said, adding that this is congruent with policies in other nations.

As to the suggestion that OTT operators be required to have certain percentage of programming dedicated to locally produced content — following a similar rule that applies to broadcast media — Chan said that the commission has yet to reach a conclusion.

The EU requires that OTT operators, such as Netflix, dedicate at least 30 percent of their content to those produced in the bloc, Chan said.

However, the EU does not penalize operators that fail to meet the requirement, nor does it offer rewards to those that follow it, she added.

Nevertheless, OTT operators in the EU still follow the rule because of the latter’s economy of scale, Chan said, adding that a similar method might not work in Taiwan.

The method used to regulate OTT operators should be practical and feasible, Chan said, adding that it must also manage OTT operators based abroad while helping local operators grow and prosper.

“Our guiding principle is that, on the condition of feasibility, the NCC would integrate resources from various parties to help OTT operators produce content,” she said.

Meanwhile, the nation’s cable television service market is expected to undergo a major transformation this year due to several policy changes initiated by the commission, Chan said.

The changes include requiring all cable system operators to broadcast programs in high-definition (HD) and helping channel operators produce HD content.

Last week, the commission also approved an amendment to the criteria used to charge cable service subscribers in which cable operators must offer at least two basic channel packages, Chan said.

According to the amendment, one of the basic channel packages must contain 13 “must carry” channels and cost no more than NT$200 per month. The other package must contain the channels that attracted the most subscribers in the previous year and the subscription fee per viewing household would be capped at NT$600 per month.

However, cable operators would be allowed to raise the fee above the limit if they agree to give channel operators at least half of the subscription fee revenue, the amendment states.

Subscribers would be allowed to choose “a la carte” channels, according to the amendment.

To change the cable service market, the government can start by changing some of the rules stipulated in the three broadcasting acts, such as the rules governing changes in the channel lineup, Chan said.

The broadcasting acts are the Radio and Television Act (廣播電視法), the Cable Television Act (有線電視法) and the Satellite Broadcasting Act (衛星廣播電視法).

The purpose of the policy change is to gradually loosen the market, she said.

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