NCC unveils pricing plan

PICK’N’MIX::The NCC said it would instruct cable TV operators to offer a greater variety of channel bundles, with consumer’s monthly bills capped accordingly

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Thu, Apr 25, 2013 - Page 4

The nation may see implementation of an “a la carte” pricing scheme for cable television by 2017, the National Communications Commission (NCC) said yesterday.

Currently, cable TV subscribers pay a fixed monthly fee of between NT$490 and NT$600 for about 100 channels. The proposed new pricing scheme would allow customers to pay only for those bundles of channels they subscribe to.

Chi Hsiao-cheng (紀效正), a specialist at the commission’s department of planning, said cable TV operators must present different entertainment packages for consideration when the administrative authority in charge reviews their proposed monthly rates for 2017.

He added that the range of packages must include one containing all the basic channels at a maximum price of NT$200 a month, and at least three other basic channel packages priced between NT$100 and NT$130.

The basic channels include Taiwan Television, China Television, Chinese Television System, Formosa Television, Public Television Service and its high-definition channel, Hakka TV, Taiwan Indigenous TV, free public channels and those produced by the cable TV operator, as well as the channel guide.

Aside from a package containing the basic channels, Chi said that each operator should offer other packages.

The NCC will not limit the number of channels, or types of channels, included in these packages, with the exception of home-shopping channels which should not be included in any of these bundles, he said.

Meanwhile, Chi said that for customers choosing a combination of the basic channel packages, rates would be capped at NT$500 per month, with the aggregate number of basic channels no fewer than are currently available.

The monthly cap requirement would not apply if subscribers also select other paid channels or pay-per-view channels, he added.

The NCC made the announcement after it approved an amendment to the pricing scheme for cable television services, which had not been adjusted for a decade.

During the meeting, the commission also ruled to use the progress made in provision of digital cable TV services as a benchmark for setting rates for cable TV services between next year and 2016.

When reviewing the proposed monthly subscription rates for next year, the commission will check the penetration rates of digital cable television services recorded in the third quarter of this year, and compare them with the rates recorded in the fourth quarter of last year.

Operators found to have a percentage increase exceeding 4.5 percent can maintain a NT$600 cap on monthly fees, but those who do not would be asked to cut their rate by NT$10 to NT$15 a month.

When reviewing the rates for 2015 and 2016, the commission will check if a cable TV service’s number of subscribers has topped 45 percent and 75 percent of the nation’s total subscribers respectively.

Those failing to meet the designated thresholds would be asked to cap their monthly fees at NT$450 and NT$350 respectively.

In related news, the NCC ruled that CtiTV must address issues with its internal control mechanism within a designated period of time following a biennial evaluation.

Though the number of its recorded violations dropped from 14 in the previous evaluation to eight, the type of violations found were more serious, the NCC said.

Between 2010 and last year, the channel was fined for failing to separate advertisements from programs, and for violating the Protection of Children and Youth Welfare and Rights Act (兒童及少年福利與權益保障法) and other laws.

The NCC said that CtiTV must submit measures to address these issues, before the commission decides if it has passed the evaluation.