Media researchers said at a recent public hearing that the National Communications Commission (NCC) should lift the cap on the number of subscribers to individual cable TV operators.
Chou Yun-tsai (騍磥齖), associate professor at the Yuan Ze University's Graduate School of Social Informatics, said the NCC＊s proposed amendment to the Cable Television Act (膧鉌鼣蒘跏) would allow cable TV system operators to branch out into different regions.
The commission, however, decided to retain a cap on the number of subscribers, banning operators from sharing more than one-third of nationwide subscribers.
※The requirement is not going to change the market. Nor will it resolve the issue of an overbuilt market ’ The amendment seeks to facilitate competition between different technologies,§ Chou said.
She said the amendment should also enable cable TV 〝operators to compete with telecom service providers, which are now permitted to provide new services such as multimedia-on-demand (MOD) systems.
※The nation has about 7 million cable TV service subscribers, but the three major telecoms carriers have a client base of 25 million. The cap will potentially pit cable operators with about 2 million subscribers against telecoms carriers that enjoy much larger economies of scale,§ she said at a public hearing held earlier this week on the amendment to the Act.
NCC chairperson Bonnie Peng (灠澿) told the public hearing she was one of the media researchers who helped draft the Act in the 1990s.
Back then, it was suggested that there should only be one cable TV operator per service area. When legislators later reviewed the Act, however, they changed the proposed draft to allow a maximum of five operators per service area, she said.
※Twenty years later, the nation has 51 service areas and the coverage rate of digital cable TV service is less than 5 percent,§ Peng said.
The amendment is intended to encourage wider digital cable TV service coverage, she said.
The proposed amendment, however, drew mixed reactions from cable operators.
Liu Chien-chih (衒呤礞), chief legal officer of China Network Systems (齌囥寍笭), said the NCC failed to consult cable TV operators when it drafted the amendment to the Act.
Liu said the policy of allowing cable TV operators to branch out into other service areas could well result in overlapping investments in the same resources.
Naomi Lee (軝欬玫), vice president of the legal department at Kbro Co (侁跅), said that the amendment＊s ban on the broadcast of local advertisements by cable television operators could well impact the operations of small local businesses.
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