The National Communications Commission said yesterday that the cable TV service charge would still be capped at NT$500 when the nation starts implementing an a la carte pricing scheme in 2017.
Currently, cable service subscribers pay a flat fee of about NT$500 a month to watch more than 100 channels.
Based on the new pricing plan approved by the commission yesterday, the current channels on cable television systems would be considered basic channels and be divided into at least four groups.
The first group contains 11 must-carry channels listed in the Cable Television Channel Planning and Management Regulations (有線電視頻道規劃與管理原則), as well as other channels arranged by the cable service operators. The 11 must-carry channels are Taiwan Television, China Television, China Television System, Formosa TV, Public Television Service (PTS), PTS-HD, Hakka TV, Taiwan Indigenous TV, public access channel, the cable system’s own channel and a program lineup channel. The charge for the first group would be capped NT$200.
The remaining basic channels would be bundled into at least three groups, with the charge for each group being capped at NT$130.
Chi Hsiao-cheng (紀效正), a specialist at the commission’s department of planning, said that consumers can make combinations based on their preferences. Should they decide to subscribe to all the basic channels, the fee must be capped at NT$500, he said.
Commission spokesperson Yu Hsiao-cheng (虞孝成) said the NT$500 cap does not apply to consumers on the east coast and on outlying islands, whose cable service charge is capped at NT$600. Chi said that the total number of the channels offered after the new pricing scheme is implemented must not be fewer than what is currently available.
He added that the commission would not limit the number of channels available in each group, nor would it interfere with the arrangement of the TV channels.
“We do not want to compromise consumer interest and cause a drastic change to the industry,” he said.
Chi said the number of the channels in the first group of basic channels is likely to exceed 11 because these channels reach more audiences, compared with those in other groups. Many of the current channels would probably ask to be included in this group rather than in other groups to maintain their revenues from commercials.
Meanwhile, Chi said the commission members also ruled to quickly study the possibility of amending Article 45 of the Cable Television Act (有線廣播電視法) to allow paid channels or pay-per-view channels to broadcast advertisements. Licensed television channel operators, on the other hand, would be given greater power to negotiate with cable system operators on the right to be fairly included in the cable service.