Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Illegal radio stations increase in Taiwan

Taiwan’s National Communication Commission (NCC) has recently stepped up its clampdown on unlicensed radio stations around the country, but admitted this would only serve to temporarily reduce the number of such stations. Chen Chuan-ping, director of the NCC Northern Regional Regulatory Department, said today that the crackdown has resulted in halving the number of illegal radio stations in Taiwan to around 50. However, based on past experience, the number would soon bounce back to 100, he added.
Unlicensed radio has existed in Taiwan for years, with many stations being accused of disrupting frequency assignment, airing exaggerated commercials for so-called medical cures and making false claims about a cure-all drug. According to NCC statistics, the government has cracked down on 330 underground radio stations over the past two years. However, some of them have set up again in other locations, therefore, the number has remained at around 100, NCC officials said.
Chen said it takes two to three weeks to prepare for a raid on an underground radio station. First, the transmitter must be located, then it must be determined what the station is broadcasting, before a search warrant can be sought, he explained. The whole process takes even longer if the station is in a remote area, he said.
Under the Telecommunications Act, persons found operating unlicensed radio stations that cause interference may be subject to fines of up to NT$600,000 (US$18,400) and imprisonment of up to two years. In a raid, the equipment and devices used by an underground station are also confiscated, Chen said.
He added that increased raids on such stations are only part of efforts to root out underground radio broadcasting, and that the measures include assisting illegal operators to become legal. In order to address this problem, the NCC has decided to open a new bandwidth to accommodate more than 40 private stations.
(Source: Taiwan News/R Netherlands Media Network Weblog)