The National Communications Commission (NCC) yesterday denied four cable service operators’ applications to fill the vacant Channel 52 with CNN News or the English-language channel of France 24, citing that such channel lineup arrangements do not match the viewing habits of Taiwan’s cable service subscribers.
The Channel 52, which was previously occupied by CTi News (中天新聞台), has been vacant since the commission denied the news channel’s license renewal application on Nov.18 last year.
Taiwan Broadband Communications (TBC), which owns five cable services, and Dafeng TV, which owns three, applied to move CNN News to Channel 52. Shih-hsin Cable Television and Kuo-shen Cable Television — both based in Chiayi County — applied to move France 24 to fill the spot.
“The enforcement rules of Article 29 of the Satellite Broadcasting Act (有線廣播電視系) state that a channel block refers to a centralized arrangement of channels made by cable operators based on the types of programs aired on the channels and viewing habits of consumers,” Commission Vice Chairman and spokesman Wong Po-tsung (翁柏宗) said.
“Over the years, consumers have already developed the habit of switching to channels in the cable news block if they want to watch domestic news. After considering consumers’ viewing habits and other factors, the commissioners rejected the applications filed by TBC, Dafeng TV, Shih-hsin and Kuo-shen Cable Television,” he added.
Wong also said that the commissioners had consulted local government officials before reaching a consensus on the matter.
Aside from consumers’ interests, the commission also considered if the networks would facilitate competition in the industry, contribute to the diversity of media content and safeguard public interests, he added.
The commission has yet to receive a new application from Homeplus Digital, the nation’s largest multiple systems operator, after it on Jan. 29 retracted its proposal to move Global News from Channel 85 to Channel 52.
Chinese Television System’s (CTS) board of directors on Jan. 28 passed a motion allowing Homeplus to act as CTS’ agent and apply for CTS News and Info to be broadcast on Channel 52.
In a statement issued on Tuesday last week, CTS said that it has been negotiating with Homeplus over Channel 52 since Dec. 1 last year.
The partnership formed after NCC Chairman Chen Yaw-shyang (陳耀祥) on Nov. 18 told a news briefing that cable operators should “give CTS a chance” when considering options to fill the vacancy.
Local media reported that CTS agreed to pay Homeplus NT$18 million (US$634,026) annually to take over the channel, making it the only news channel that has to pay to stay in the cable news block.
At a media luncheon on Friday, Chen told reporters that the commission sees Global News’ low percentage of self-produced programs as an issue.
This story has been amended since it was first published.
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