The National Communications Commission (NCC) yesterday that fined Global View and four other cable TV operators owned by Taiwan Fixed Network (TFN) NT$100,000 each for receiving indirect investment from the Taipei City Government.
The ruling marked the first case in which cable TV services have been punished for violating Article 19 of the Cable Television Act (有線廣播電視法).
The act stipulates that “government and political parties, as well as foundations established with their endowments, and those commissioned by them, may not directly or indirectly invest in cable radio and/or television systems.”
NCC spokesperson Chen Jeng-chang (陳正倉) said the commission was informed by a source that the five cable TV services may have received indirect investment from the government. The commission launched an investigation and asked the five to provide a statement.
Aside from the fine, Chen said the operators would have to ensure that the Taipei City Government does not have any investment in their operations. All five have been given a year to address the matter.
The NCC’s investigation showed that TFN owns 100 percent of Global View, Phoenix Cable, Union Cable and Media Cable, as well as 29.3 percent of the shares in Mangrove Cable.
TFN is owned by Taiwan Mobile and Fubon Financial is an investor in Taiwan Mobile.
In 2005, Fubon Financial merged with the Taipei Bank, which was owned by the Taipei City Government.
Despite the merger, the city government still owns 14.5 percent of Fubon Financial.
Chen said that investigations into indirect investment in any cable TV service can reach all the way to the ultimate investor.
Huang Chin-yi (黃金益), deputy director of the NCC’s operational administration, held a preliminary review on the ownership of all cable TV services in 2006 after it found that Eastern Cable (東森) had received investment from the Central Investment Co, which belonged to the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).
“Back then, we only made sure that no company had any direct investment from political parties or the government,” Huang said. “On indirect investment, we only asked operators to sign affidavits to guarantee that none of their shareholders were from either party.”
The commission issued a similar ruling in the case of Elta TV when it applied to become a channel.
About 10 percent of Elta’s shares were owned by Chunghwa Telecom and about one-third of Chunghwa Telecom’s shares are owned by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications.