NCC suffers blow to
THRESHOLDS CUT: Lawmakers ruled on types of
mergers that would be banned as well as those that need approval, which were
different from those proposed by the NCC
By Shelley Shan / Staff Reporter
Commission Chairman Howard Shyr, second right, looks up during a Transportation
Committee review of media anti-monopolization legislation at the legislature in
Photo: Chen Chih-chu, Taipei Times
The National Communications Commission (NCC)
suffered a setback to its proposed media anti-monopolization act yesterday, with
lawmakers from the legislature¡¦s Transportation Committee insisting that the
specific thresholds it proposed to regulate media mergers had to be removed.
However, the committee gave the draft act preliminary approval at 8:15pm
yesterday, with some articles reserved for further bipartisan negotiations.
¡§We have to thank the legislators for giving the commission greater authority,¡¨
NCC Chairman Howard Shyr (¥Û¥@»¨) said.
¡§The commission originally set higher standards by requiring very clear
authorization from the law, but legislators decided to give the NCC greater
support and trust,¡¨ he added.
The thresholds were removed because the committee on Wednesday ruled that it
would adopt the definition of market share proposed by Chinese Nationalist Party
(KMT) Legislator Lo Shu-lei (Ã¹²QÁ¢) and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Yeh Yi-jin
(¸©y¬z) to gauge the influence of a media outlet, rather than the concept of
viewership rate as proposed by the NCC.
The committee also ruled on the types of media mergers that would be banned as
well as those that need to be approved by the NCC, which were different from
those proposed by the commission.
The committee ruled to remove Articles 17 to 23 from the NCC¡¦s proposal, which
contained the ¡§red lines¡¨ that media operators would be barred from crossing as
well as the issues that need to be addressed by media operators if they want
mergers to be approved.
During the review, Shyr tried to convince lawmakers to keep some of the
articles, saying that some of them could be applied immediately and would leave
no gray areas in execution.
However, lawmakers ruled it was unnecessary to keep any of them.
Even though the committee decided to adopt the concept of market share to gauge
media influence, Shyr said that its definition resembles that of ¡§audience
share,¡¨ which was in line with the NCC¡¦s original proposal.
Association of Taiwan Journalists chairwoman Chen Hsiao-yi (³¯¾å©y) disagreed that
the version of the act passed yesterday would increase the powers of the NCC.
¡§The commission is only given the right to investigate a newspaper¡¦s circulation
or the audience share of other media outlets,¡¨ she said
Chen said that recent major media merger bids, including the Dafu-Kbro proposals
and the Want Want-China Network Systems deals, would not be approved under the
new version of the act.
The version approved by the committee also states that those in management
positions in financial institutions would be banned from holding shares or
managing media outlets, adding that the NCC has the right to ask those in
violation of this rule to dispose of any shares.
The Democratic Progressive Party said that any media outlet holding or obtaining
more than 10 percent of the shares in another media outlet or more than 10
percent of an outlet¡¦s total capital would be required to report the case to the
The KMT suggested that the threshold be raised to 30 percent.
The condition was reserved for negotiations as both parties failed to agree on
the exact percentage.
Other articles reserved for further caucus negotiations include those on the
regulation of multiple service operators and television channel agents, lawsuits
for public interest, and a transitional clause that would require parties
involved in previous media merger bids to adhere to the new act.
Meanwhile, mergers involving medium or large radio stations, terrestrial
television stations, national newspapers, news or financial news channels, cable
television services or multimedia-on-demand services that have more than 2
percent of the total subscribers nationwide would have to secure NCC approval.
Cable television service operators having more than 20 percent of the total
service subscribers nationwide would be banned from merging with terrestrial
television operators, news or finance channels, national broadcast services or
national daily newspapers.
Any media merger that would result in an operator controling more than one-third
of the market would also be banned.
The act would also allow the NCC to set conditional clauses on approving any
media merger bid.