The National Communications Commission (NCC) will submit draft legislation regulating cross-media ownership by the end of the next legislative session, NCC Chairperson Howard Shyr (石世豪) said yesterday, adding that the regulations would be included in the planned digital convergence act (數位匯流法).
Shyr made the comments at the legislature’s Transportation Committee, where he had been expected to brief lawmakers on the Democratic Progressive Party’s proposed amendments to 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) to prevent media monopolization.
However, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers boycotted the meeting. They said it was decided in Friday’s meetings that the amendments would first be reviewed by the Transportation Committee. Under the legislature’s rules, each lawmaker can propose reconsideration of legislation within 10 days of it undergoing official review at the committee.
KMT legislators Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇) and Luo Shu-lei (羅淑蕾) said that period was not over.
They said the DPP meant to use the briefing to force the committee to review its amendments, leaving the KMT with nothing more to add to the amendments.
However, DPP Legislator Tsai Chi-chang (蔡其昌) said yesterday’s meeting was a “briefing,” during which the commission would give its opinion on the amendments, not an official review.
DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) said the Martial Law era was long over and his party wanted to hear what the commission had to say about the legislation, adding that the topic of the briefing should not be dictated by the KMT.
DPP Legislator Wei Ming-ku (魏明谷), who presided the meeting, ruled to recess, during which the two parties negotiated in a bid to stop the gridlock.
The lawmakers eventually reached an agreement to schedule another meeting on Wednesday.
Based on the amendments proposed by DPP, cable service operators must recruit people from outside their corporations to serve on their boards, shares held directly or indirectly by overseas investors must not exceed 60 percent and bank loans must not exceed 30 percent of the company’s capital.
The DPP amendments would also restrict investments from financial holdings firms, banks and insurance firms in broadcast media.
The commission said it was more appropriate to stipulate such a restriction in the Financial Holding Company Act (金融控股公司法), the Banking Act (銀行法) and the Insurance Act (保險法).
The commission also said that it would restrict the number of TV channels owned by cable TV operators to less than 10 percent of the number of basic channels.