The National Communications Commission (NCC) is likely to consult results from different media research institutions to determine the accurate viewership or readership of a media outlet, NCC Chairman Howard Shyr (石世豪) said yesterday.
Viewership or readership rates of a media outlet would be used by the commission to approve or disapprove any media merger should a proposed broadcasting media monopolization prevent and diversity preservation act be passed.
Shyr faced numerous questions about the act from lawmakers at a meeting of the legislature’s Transportation Committee in Taipei yesterday.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tsai Chi-chang (蔡其昌) asked if the commission plans to establish a media research organization to obtain the statistics or to outsource the task to existing media research firms, such as AGB-Nielsen (formerly AC Nielsen).
In response, Shyr said “the most ideal situation would be that multiple media research firms have delivered accurate and objective results,” adding that the commission would not favor the results of any particular firm.
“The proposed act states that the commission should focus on the methods applied in media research and whether they would lead to credible results,” he said. “Just as teachers can tell students the subjects they will be tested on, but there is no way to tell which students will pass the test.”
DPP legislators Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲) and Lee Kun-tse (李昆澤) questioned whether the act could effectively regulate cross-media ownership.
Kuan cited statistics that show that the Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister paper), the Apple Daily and the United Daily News all have readership rates exceeding 10 percent. The China Times’ readership rate is below 10 percent. Based on the proposed act, the China Times is the only newspaper that would be able to merge with a broadcast media firm, she said.
“Using the conditions in this draft act, Want Want China Times Group is not a media monster. It is just a mosquito,” she said.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lo Shu-lei (羅淑蕾) found it unreasonable that the proposed act would ban media outlets with higher viewership rates from acquiring other television channels.
“If they provide high-quality programs that in turn boost their viewership, they should be allowed to expand their operations,” she said. “It would be strange to allow bad media outlets to buy channels and not good ones.”
DPP Legislator Yeh Yi-jin (葉宜津) said the commission should explain how it calculates viewership, listenership and readership rates, otherwise the committee could not properly review the draft act.