Chinese over-the-top (OTT) service provider iQiyi cannot register as a provider in Taiwan after the Mainland Affairs Council declared it to be an illegal service, the National Communications Commission (NCC) said yesterday.
Both iQiyi and WeTV were deemed to be illegal Chinese OTT operators in an interdepartmental meeting on Friday last week, officials said, adding that this prohibits them from marketing their services in Taiwan or seeking subscribers.
The government plans to block a local server that iQiyi has been using to transmit content to domestic audiences, which would disrupt its content transmission.
Photo: Chu Pei-hsiung, Taipei Times
OTT Entertainment Ltd, which is enlisted by iQiyi to handle subscription-related affairs in Taiwan, on Monday said that its local service platform does not disseminate political content, adding that it has invested more than NT$1 billion (US$33.38 million) in content production.
NCC spokesman Hsiao Chi-hung (蕭祈宏) said that the council decided that iQiyi breached the Act Governing Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area (台灣地區與大陸地區人民關係條例) by offering an OTT TV service, which the act does not permit Chinese to invest in.
Taiwanese OTT operators are not allowed to launch such services in China, he added.
A commission draft act on OTT TV services would require all legal OTT operators to register with the commission, although iQiyi is no longer a legal operator, he said.
Commission officials said that iQiyi’s Taipei office was set up under a company legally registered with the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Qiyi.com Hong Kong Ltd.
The company streams content over a server that it leases from a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based global content delivery network, Akamai Technologies, whose clients include YouTube and Netflix, they said, adding that tackling the issue would be difficult from a technical perspective.
To resolve the controversies surrounding iQiyi, Hsiao said that the council would need to amend the Act Governing Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area so that investments from Hong Kong and China are equated if related, something used to revoke iQiyi’s business registration in the nation.
Also, the ministry would need to amend regulations so that Taiwanese companies would be banned from offering prohibited services in Taiwan, as such a change is needed so that Akamai could drop iQiyi as a client, Hsiao added.
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