Thu, Jun 13, 2019 - Page 2 News List

NCC to implement tiered prices next year

PROVIDING FLEXIBILITY:The new pricing standards would allow cable operators to adjust subscription fees if the consumer price index increases at least 3 percent

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff Reporter

The National Communications Commission (NCC) yesterday said that it aims to implement a tiered pricing policy next year, which would apply to nearly all cable operators in the nation.

The commission made the announcement after NCC commissioners passed an amendment to the pricing standards to be used by cable service operators next year.

The commission had previously opened a public comment period from February to last month for the new pricing standards.

It said that the pricing standards approved by the commissioners were the same as those announced in February.

Each cable service operator must provide at least two basic channel packages for subscribers to choose from, according to the standards.

The first package must have the 13 must-carry channels stated in the Cable Radio and Television Act (有限廣播電視法), including terrestrial TV stations and the Public Television Service, with the price for the package capped at NT$200 per month.

The other basic channel package must be approved by the NCC in the previous year and have the most subscribers, according to the standards.

This package generally includes more than 100 channels that are viewed by most cable service subscribers, the commission said, adding that the price of this package would be capped at NT$600 per month.

In addition to the two basic packages, cable service operators can offer other packages for subscribers to choose from, the commission said.

A cable service operator would be exempt from observing the NT$600 price limit if it offered a package with channels that have better content than those in a current basic package, or if it promised to give more than half of the subscription fees it collects to the channel operators.

However, cable service plans must still be approved by local government officials or the NCC, according to the standards.

The average cable service fee in Taiwan is about NT$523 per month. A majority of the nation’s cable service pricing plans are reviewed by local government officials, except those in Tainan and Penghu, Lienchiang (Matsu) and Kinmen counties, which are reviewed by the NCC.

Cable operators in the outlaying counties are allowed to offer only one channel package, as they do not have many subscribers.

The new pricing standards would also allow cable operators to adjust the NT$600 per month price cap if the consumer price index increases at least 3 percent, the commission said.

However, they cannot refuse to let channel operators form their own channel packages or set different prices for their channels without a legitimate reason.

They also cannot prevent their subscribers from subscribing to other pay channels in addition to the basic channel packages.

Given the increasing number of disputes between cable service operators and channels over content authorization fees, the commission was asked whether it still thought that more cable service operators would be motivated to let channel operators have a bigger share of the revenue in exchange for flexibility in setting the price for channel packages.

The commission said that its data showed that channels receive about 40 percent of the cable service revenue, adding that this should be practicable for cable operators that want to be exempt from the NT$600 monthly price cap.

When asked about local governments’ tendency to lower the cable service fee to below NT$500 per month, which makes it almost impossible for cable service operators to set a monthly fee of more than NT$600, the commission said that it would in August provide an example of how local governments should review cable service plans with its review of Tainan’s cable service plans for next year.

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