Chunghwa can form own MOD bundles soon

MADE NO REQUEST::Chunghwa Telecom in 2006 pledged not to form its own channel packages, but there are no laws prohibiting it from doing so, an NCC spokesman said

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Thu, Jan 24, 2019 - Page 2

Chunghwa Telecom will soon be able to form its own channel packages for its multimedia-on-demand (MOD) system after the National Communications Commission (NCC) yesterday approved changes to the system’s business guidelines, which aims to reduce disputes between the telecom and channel operators.

The telecom proposed changes to the business guidelines following disputes over profit distribution with Taiwan Interactive Television (TITV), the agent representing the MOD system’s deluxe family plan.

The worst dispute happened in July 2017, when the telecom was forced to remove 48 channels from the plan for failing to obtain content authorization from TITV.

However, market analysts said that the move would not only give the telecom an edge when facing competition from cable TV and Internet protocol TV operators, but it would also affect the businesses of agents representing the channels in the MOD system.

The nation had about 5.11 million cable service subscribers as of the third quarter of last year, with five large multiple system operators controlling the market, NCC statistics showed.

The telecom’s MOD service alone has about 2 million subscribers, making it the nation’s largest pay-TV operator, they showed.

The commission in 2006 announced the MOD to be an open platform in compliance with the government’s policy banning political parties, the government and the military from operating media outlets, NCC spokesman Wong Po-tsung (翁柏宗) said, adding that the telecom at the time pledged that it would not form any channel packages for the MOD system.

“However, the commission never said that the telecom was not allowed to form its own channel packages. It was that it has not made a request to change the business guidelines in more than a decade,” Wong said.

Article 60-1 of the Regulations for Administration on Fixed Network Telecommunications Business (固定通信業務管理規則) stipulates that an operator of a multimedia content transmission platform should ensure that it does not interfere with the planning, sales and pricing of channel operators.

The article bans telecoms from interfering with the operations of channel operators, but it does not state that the company cannot bundle different channels to form packages, Chunghwa said.

Although the telecom is permitted to form its own channel packages and sell them to MOD service subscribers, Wong said that the commission’s approval comes with three conditions: The MOD platform must not exclude any channel packages from the platform without any legitimate reason; the company must not interfere with the channels’ content production process; and the rules governing the arrangement of the channel lineup and pricing of channel packages must apply to all channel operators, including those for packages formed by the company.

Allowing the telecom to form channel packages does not contravene laws banning the government from operating media outlets, Wong said, adding that the company only bundles channels to be sold on the MOD system and is not involved in content production.

The commission hopes that the change would bring diversity to the MOD system’s channel lineup, as about one-third of its subscribers chose the deluxe family plan, Wong said.