• By Shelley Shan / Staff Reporter

The National Communications Commission (NCC) has temporarily suspended the introduction of the Digital Intermediary Services Bill after it came under fire for allegedly hampering free speech by allowing government agencies to flag certain internet content.

“Following a meeting on Monday, we have decided to refer the bill to our Digital Convergence Task Force, which will reconsider it based on feedback we gathered from three briefings last month. Our staff members categorized these comments into 22 major issues and about 80 minor issues,” NCC Vice Chairman and Spokesperson Wong Po-tsung (翁柏宗) told a press conference at Taipei.

The bill is “back to square one”, he said.

Wong said most people think the legislation needs to make clear what obligations would be placed on digital intermediary service providers, including regulatory filings, transparency reporting and consumer rights protections.

“Some have said that the definition of a digital intermediary service provider is so broad that e-commerce operators would be regulated by the bill. We need to conduct further studies to assess how the bill would affect the industry. “said Wong.

Asked if the move would leave the commission’s new Internet Communications Management Department without laws to enforce, Wong said the commission would work with multiple government and private sector stakeholders and offer administrative guidance to the platforms. digital.

Separately, the airtime of domestically produced children’s shows has been reduced over the past year as more and more children watch shows on over-the-top (OTT) services, according to a survey by the NCC with terrestrial and satellite channels.

Airtime for children’s programs on satellite TV fell to 2,755 hours last year from 2,920 hours in 2020, while airtime for newly produced children’s programs also increased to 1,070 hours last year compared to 1,196 hours in 2020.

“We have been told by some TV stations that most kids now watch programs on OTT services, rather than cable,” Wong said. “We plan to commission a third party to conduct a study of the broadcast media industry next year, and we will determine whether we need to relax broadcast media regulations.”

Experts from media associations and civic groups said TV stations have become less willing to invest in children’s programming, citing a relatively smaller market in Taiwan, Wong said.

The groups told the NCC that Taiwan does not have an industry chain to produce children’s and teen programs, Wong said.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted TV program production schedules, Taiwanese channels have reported no issues meeting the required percentages of locally produced content, including children’s shows, entertainment shows, TV series and movies, according to the survey.

Airtime for locally produced entertainment shows, TV series and movies increased last year, the commission said.

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