Households with cable drop below 5 million

LATEST DISPUTE::DigiDom accused three Fubon Group-affiliated channel agents of forcing new cable providers out of the industry by charging excessive fees

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Mon, Nov 18, 2019 - Page 2

The number of households in Taiwan with cable service subscriptions dropped below 5 million in the third quarter this year, National Communications Commission (NCC) data showed last week.

It is the second time cable subscribers has fallen below 5 million since the fourth quarter of 2014, NCC data showed.

About 4.96 million households had cable subscriptions in the third quarter this year, the data showed, falling from 5.04 million in the first quarter and 5.01 million in the second quarter.

There were about 150,000 fewer than in the third quarter last year, the data showed.

Digital dividends — value-added services brought by the digitization of cable services — helped subscriptions bounce back from 4.98 million in 2013 to a peak of 5.22 million, the commission said.

However, people now have more choices from over-the-top content providers such as Netflix and IQiyi, the commission said, adding that cable services are likely to lose more subscribers with advancements in communication technology.

Kbro Co, the nation’s largest multiple-systems operator, had about 51,000 fewer subscribers in the third quarter from a year earlier, the data showed.

TWM Broadband lost about 18,800 subscribers compared with the same period last year, they showed.

Kbro Co and TWM Broadband are affiliated with Fubon Group.

Facing competition from over-the-top content providers, industry experts have said that disputes between channel agents and cable service operators over content authorization fees could further erode revenue.

The latest dispute is between DigiDom Cable TV and three channel agents affiliated with Fubon, with the agents threatening to cancel broadcasts of 22 channels on the platform if DigiDom refuses to pay content authorization fees at the rate they seek.

DigiDom on Friday asked the NCC to arbitrate the dispute again.

It has filed a complaint with the Fair Trade Commission, accusing the channel agents of bullying new cable service operators.

DigiDom accused the agents of breaking an agreement reached at an arbitration meeting on Sept. 26, when the parties agreed that 50,000 subscribers would be the threshhold to begin charging fees.

They also agreed that they would not suspend broadcasts, which compromises consumers’ interests and is being used as a bargaining chip, DigiDom said.

The cable operator said the agents informed it at the end of last month and at the beginning of this month that they would cancel broadcasts of 22 channels before the end of this month, as they insist on charging content authorization fees based on the household registration data.

“This shows that their purpose was not the fee income, but to force newcomers out of the market by asking them to pay excessive amounts to create a monopoly for themselves,” DigiDom said.