NCC chair pushes for new media regulations

FIREWALLS::NCC Chairman Howard Shyr said on his last day in office that Taiwan should not follow China on Internet protections, but should expand into more markets

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Mon, Aug 01, 2016 - Page 3

The government should stipulate new regulations to tackle media monopolization, National Communications Commission (NCC) Chairperson Howard Shyr (石世豪) said, adding that the commission’s five draft acts dealing with issues related to media convergence are closely connected and cannot be amended individually.

Shyr is scheduled to step down today after his term officially ended yesterday.

The proposed media monopolization prevention and diversity preservation act (媒體壟斷防制與多元維護法) and five new acts on media convergence were stipulated during his term.

However, the Executive Yuan returned the bills to the NCC on the grounds that the Legislative Yuan has more urgent issues to deliberate on.

Shyr said the proposed acts were among a few bills that the Cabinet had returned to their respective agencies, adding that the commission had also been asked to resubmit the acts related to media convergence as soon as possible.

The commission also ruled that new NCC commissioners, who are scheduled to take office today, should be allowed to review the acts, Shyr said.

Shyr said the commission is not planning to resubmit the proposed media monopolization prevention and diversity preservation act, which is considered the fruit of the nation’s 2012 to 2013 media anti-monopolization movement.

“Both the media industry and political situation in the nation have undergone drastic changes in recent years,” Shyr said. “The act targets mainly broadcast media and touch on print media. It tackles issues related to monopolization on a small scale by putting ‘ceilings’ on media outlet ownership, which is really an outdated practice.”

Shyr said the focus of media monopolization has already shifted to global players, such as YouTube, Facebook and Google.

“The newer concept is not to confine these so-called ‘beasts.’ The question that should be asked is if a community is able to have local governance over these Internet groups and if it knows how these groups handle personal data, which is gathered using various algorithms,” Shyr said.

“The question should also be if these groups allow access to the information and platforms they use,” he added.

The media monopolization prevention and diversity preservation act was meant to authorize regulators to fight these groups, he added.

Legislators proposed that over-the-top content providers should be regulated, particularly those from China.

Taiwan should not have a closed Internet, nor can it afford to have one, Shyr said.

“A closed Internet was never the intention of the first generation of Internet pioneers. China has a population of 1.3 billion people, and Taiwan has only 23 million. We cannot afford to play the game the same way China does. Taiwan’s over-the-top content providers should not restrict themselves to Taiwan and should seek markets in other countries as well,” Shyr said.

“We should not block ourselves from communicating with a much larger Internet community and confine ourselves. What we would create is nothing more than ‘small town’ stuff,” he added.

Shyr said he opposed legislation requiring that a certain percentage of a channel’s programming be reserved for local programs.

He said the government could spend 20 percent of the commission’s annual budget funding the production of local programs, but they should not force people to spend 20 percent of their time watching local programs.