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September 26, 2017

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NCC members urged to stay at their posts

Five major organizations of broadcasting companies and opposition parties called for National Communications Commission (NCC) members yesterday to stay in their posts despite the grand justices' recent ruling that a provision of the panel's organic law is unconstitutional.

Kuomintang (KMT) Legislator Joanna Lei and People First Party (PFP) spokesman Hsieh Kung-ping made the appeal following a media report that NCC members could resign en masse to protest a ruling the Council of Grand Justices (CGJ).

The CGJ ruled Friday that a section of Article 4 of the NCC Organic Law — which stipulates that the organization's members should be selected according to the ratio of seats held by each political party in the legislature — violates constitutional provisions.

NCC members held a meeting last night to discuss the relevant issues and decide whether they want to stay on.

Sources said that there was a 50-50 chance for the members to stay or quit.

They plan to make a public announcement on the final decision today.

In its ruling, made in response to a request by the Executive Yuan in January, the CGJ also said that until the current NCC is invalidated Dec. 31, 2008, none of the cases it has handled will be affected by the ruling.

Legislator Lei of the KMT said criticizing the grand justices' interfering with the legislative authority while giving unconstitutional support to the Executive Yuan (Cabinet).

The grand justices' biased ruling will only strip the impartiality and independence of the NCC, which was structured in such a way to best serve the interests of electronic media and public without favoritism, Lei said..

She said the NCC should continue operating in the interests of the public and media enterprises.

Noting that the NCC is an independent organization formally "endorsed" by the Legislative Yuan, Hsieh said the CGJ should respect public opinion on the issue.

He added that the Constitution contains no provisions stipulating that an independent regulatory agency cannot be formed by members selected according to the ratio of legislative seats held by each political party.

Hsieh claimed that the CGJ ruling is tantamount to transferring the authority to make personnel appointments for all independent organizations to the premier, which he said not only infringes upon legislative authority but also reflects political consideration by the grand justices.

"As the NCC is in charge of various far-reaching businesses, collective resignation by the NCC members will have a great impact on the local telecommunications and broadcasting service sectors," Hsieh said, voicing hope that they will act cautiously before responding to the ruling by the grand justices.

Meanwhile, five nationwide associations formed by broadcasting companies praised the professionalism and contributions of the current members as demonstrated in the past few months.

They also said that the NCC members should not leave their posts at this critical juncture.

Analysts said that the government could face staggering state compensation from media firms if their normal operations, including the applications for new services and renewing business licenses.

The current administration has already been forced to reverse its decisions to suspend the licenses of several cable TV firms. The government was also forced to resume the construction of the No. 4 nuclear power plant and made financial compensation to contractors after it abruptly suspended the ongoing construction work.

Analysts said the government and taxpayers could be forced to waste a huge amount of money and valuable time again if the administration repeats the same mistakes.

The NCC's mandate includes making, amending, abolishing and implementing telecommunications policies and regulations; supervising the operations of the communication businesses, including approval of operating licenses and checking equipment; mediating in major disputes between rival businesses and protecting consumer interests; promoting international cooperation; meting out punishments; and cracking down on lawbreakers.

The ruling deals the NCC a heavy blow, which only formally began operations Feb. 22 after many twists and turns. The Executive Yuan under former Premier Frank Hsieh requested the CGJ Jan. 20 to make a constitutional ruling on the legality of the NCC Organic Law on the grounds that the law infringes upon the rights of the executive branch.

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