20130531 NCC suffers blow to anti-monopoly act
Prev Up Next


NCC suffers blow to anti-monopoly act

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

National Communications Commission Chairman Howard Shyr, second right, looks up during a Transportation Committee review of media anti-monopolization legislation at the legislature in Taipei yesterday.
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 (ù²QÁ¢) 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 NCC.

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.

 Prev Next