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Chinese streaming site raises concerns of local operators

2019/05/13 18:00:41

Screenshot taken from Apple's App Store

Taipei, May 13 (CNA) Chinese video streaming service WeTV started selling subscriptions in Taiwan in April, with local industry operators suggesting that consumer rights are not fully protected because customers can only contact the company through its Facebook page and webpage.

Under the name of Image Future Investment (HK) Limited, a financial subsidiary of Chinese tech giant Tencent, WeTV recently started taking subscriptions in Taiwan through the distribution platforms App Store and Google Play.

Taiwan Over-the-Top (OTT) Media Services Association, an organization comprised of local streaming services, demanded Sunday that the government should require overseas OTTs to register subsidiaries or branches in Taiwan if they offer a local customer service.

Overseas companies that fail to do so should not be granted operation licenses, the association contended.

Chien Ta-wei (錢大衛), the head of Taiwan OTT Media Services Association said Sunday that the burgeoning local OTT operators could be harmed as the current mechanism to supervise overseas OTT operators that want to enter the Taiwan market is inadequate.

Meanwhile, Taiwan has been tightening restrictions on video streaming services from China, including Baidu's iQiyi, citing national security concerns that it could be used as a channel for Chinese political propaganda.

iQiyi's application to establish a subsidiary in Taiwan was rejected by the Investment Commission under the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) in 2016. However, it currently has a web domain in Taiwan, set up through a local agent -- a tactic that is legal.

However, iQiyi's business operations in Taiwan is widely considered successful and rumors emerged in March that Tencent and Alibaba's video platform Youku are considering copying the iQiyi model to enter Taiwan through local agents, leaving Taiwanese streaming platforms concerned that deep-pocket Chinese companies will come to dominate the local market.

Under Article 40-1 of the Act Governing Relations between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area, unless permitted by the competent authorities and having established a branch or liaison office in Taiwan, no profit-seeking enterprise from mainland China can engage in any business activities in Taiwan. However, those rules were introduced before the internet era.

(By Tsai Peng-min, Jiang Ming-yan and Chung Yu-chen)