An administrative hearing on Feng Meng Cable TV’s proposal to expand its service to Hualien County, which it applied for in August last year, would be held soon, the National Communications Commission (NCC) said yesterday.
It will be the first such hearing for this type of case.
Given that the commission has been seeking to enhance competition by encouraging cable service operators to branch out into different service areas, such applications are normally immediately approved by the commissioners.
However, it has spent almost a year reviewing Feng Meng’s application, as the Taichung-based operator is one of the cable systems owned by Kbro Co.
There is concern that its expansion might exceed the “red tapes” stipulated in Article 24 of the Cable Radio and Television Act (有線廣播電視法), Platform and Business Department Acting Director Tsai Kuo-tung (蔡國棟) said.
The article states that the number of subscribers of the system operators, their affiliates and their directly or indirectly controlled system operators shall not exceed one-third of the total number of subscribers in the nation, Tsai said.
Kbro and TWM Broadband, owned by Fubon Group chairman Daniel Tsai (蔡明忠) and his brother Richard (蔡明興), have about 1.65 million subscribers, accounting for 32.8 percent of the nation’s cable service subscribers.
There are two operators in Hualien County, Hualien Cable TV Network and T. Y. Cable TV Co, which are controlled by ERA Group chairman Lien Tai-sheng (練台生) and together have 54,071 subscribers.
A hearing is to be held so the commissioners can hear from the stakeholders in the case and the public, Tsai said.
Industry insiders have portrayed Feng Meng’s expansion proposal as Daniel Tsai seeking revenge for Lien “entering his turf” in Taipei.
Lien owns shares in TaipeiNet, a Taipei-based cable system operator founded in 2015 that has reportedly been using a low-price strategy — NT$1,500 for one year’s subscription — to attract more than 50,000 subscribers in the past few years.
Kbro’s subscriber base in Taipei has fallen from 1.12 million to 1.04 million and several cable systems under KBro lost money last year because of the price war.
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