NCC planning meeting on media monopoly draft act

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Thu, Mar 14, 2013 - Page 3

The National Communications Commission (NCC) said yesterday that it would soon convene a meeting to respond to questions and doubts people have about the draft broadcasting media monopolization prevention and diversity preservation act (廣播電視壟斷防制與多元維護法).

The much-anticipated proposed act was drafted amid public concern that the nation’s media outlets may soon be controlled by a few powerful media groups, following several controversial deals in recent years. To hear the public’s comments, thoughts and observations about the draft act, the commission unveiled the draft last month and sent it to media associations, watchdog groups, law schools and journalism schools around the nation. The deadline for the submission of suggestions was Thursday last week.

Ji Xiao-zheng (紀效正), a specialist at the commission’s planning department, said that many have voiced concerns as to how the commission would enforce the act, particularly on the methods that the commission would use to gauge a media outlet’s audience and the credibility of such methods.

He also said that some people have doubts over the regulations banning the integration of media outlets if they reach certain thresholds.

Others said that the commission should take into account the development of digital convergence technologies and relevant industries when it stipulates regulations to prevent the monopolization of media outlets, Ji said.

Some of the nation’s major newspapers were also afraid that the act would affect their plans to branch out into broadcast media, because the act states that newspapers or weekly magazines are banned from merging with broadcast media if they have readership rates of more than 10 percent.

In response, Ji said the act would only be used to regulate mergers of media outlets. He said the print media would need to follow other relevant broadcasting regulations if they want to establish television channels.

He also said that the act would only look at the viewership or readership rates after the merger, adding that the commission would encourage any channel to pursue high viewership rates by offering high-quality television programs.

When asked whether the meeting on the act would be held this month, Ji said the commission ruled that the meeting be held as soon as all the administrative procedures have been completed, without committing to a specific date.