Lawmakers on the legislature’s Transportation Committee are scheduled to start reviewing competing drafts of an anti-monopoly media act on Wednesday, with the National Communications Commission (NCC) insisting on using viewership rate to gauge a media outlet’s influence, while the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) propose using market share instead.
Aside from reviewing the three versions of the draft act during a two-day session, the committee will also hear the methods the commission proposes using to determine viewership rates when it is considering whether to approve a media merger.
The biggest difference between the commission’s draft and those proposed by the parties is that the former uses viewership rate as the basis on which to calculate the aggregate effect of a media merger, whereas the latter two suggest using a media outlet’s market share.
While the DPP’s proposal would be retroactively applied to media mergers, the commission’s and KMT’s versions would exempt outlets in past media mergers from adhering to the act.
Aside from regulating mergers between broadcasting and print media outlets, the commission’s version was the only one that would also regulate television channel agents.
The commission said that it proposed doing so because the nation’s TV channels are controlled by only a few agents.
The commission’s proposal stipulates that, for agents representing more than 10 television channels, viewership rates will be weighted by a multiple of two if the agent wants to merge with another media outlet.
The viewership rates of television channel agents with less than 10 channels would be weighted by multiples ranging from 1.2 to 1.8, depending on the number of channels that the agents represent.
Given that cable TV providers and television channel agents determine if a channel will be removed or stay on the air, the commission’s draft would also set a high threshold for a media merger involving any of these two media outlets.
For example, the viewership rates of cable television systems that have more than 30 percent of all subscribers nationwide would be weighted by multiplying them by two.
Other cable TV providers would have their viewership rates multiplied by 1.2 to 1.8, depending on the number of subscribers that they have.
If a cable TV system also serves as a television channel agent, its viewership rate could be calculated using a maximum multiple of four, the commission said, adding that such a merger would very likely be rejected.
By contrast, the DPP’s version would focus on regulating media mergers involving terrestrial television services, news and financial news channels, national radios, daily newspapers or cable TV systems with more than 10,000 subscribers.
Its proposal would also ban mergers between terrestrial TV services, as well as mergers of cable TV systems that would increase their market share to more than 30 percent.
The DPP would also prohibit cable TV systems from merging with any of the other four types of media outlets
Meanwhile, the KMT’s draft act aims to regulate the influence of online media in addition to broadcasting and print media.
The KMT’s legislation would also empower the public media to protect the diversity of public opinion.