Taiwan lawmakers are drafting a bill to ban mainland Chinese streaming giants iQIYI and Tencent from operating on the self-governed island. The proposed law will punish local service providers for working with the Chinese OTT platforms.
According to Taiwanese media, the move, initiated by Taiwan’s National Communications Commission, is an attempt to push back against the Communist Party of China’s growing presence and activities. China’s stated policy is to change the international narrative through a so-called “united front” that includes influence operations and predatory economics.
The NCC said on Thursday that it wants to regulate OTT services available in Taiwan, and to target mainland Chinese operators that have been providing streaming services on the island without a permit. It threatens fines of up to $167,000 for internet service providers, telecom hardware and software suppliers who provide services to, or partner with, these mainland companies.
Mainland operators such as iQIYI and Tencent’s WeTV are said to have violated the Act Governing Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area. OTT broadcasting is not on the list of permitted services.
iQIYI applied for permission in 2016, but was rejected by NCC. However, it got around that through a partnership with a distributor called OTT, followed by another with Akamai. An NCC spokesman said that iQIYI may have as many as 6 million illegal subscribers in Taiwan.
When, in April, it looked like mainland Chinese state broadcaster CCTV might use a similar local partnership strategy, the NCC accelerated the plans it had begun drafting in February.
Other streamers including Netflix, and local operators Catchplay and FriDay may also be required to register with the NCC, and supply it with regular business updates.