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PCC seeks involvement in reassignment of vacated frequencies

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The Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) wants to be one of the agencies that approve the reallocation of vacated frequencies.

The antitrust watchdog made the recommendation after the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) granted the broadcast frequencies previously held and used by ABS-CBN Corp. to Villar-led Advanced Media Broadcasting System Inc. (AMBS), Pastor Apollo Quiboloy’s Swara Sug Media Corp. (Sonshine Media), and Aliw Broadcasting Corp.

In a statement, the PCC said the reallocation of these frequencies in favor of AMBS, Aliw, and Sonshine Media was a regulatory function of the NTC.

“It is not covered by the provisions on merger review under the Philippine Competition Act, and thus need not be notified to the PCC,” the antitrust watchdog said.

However, the PCC said that in the case of AMBS, the reallocation of frequencies “limits its purview until details of AMBS acquisition by the Villar Group, including its relation to Streamtech Systems Technologies Inc. are made public.”

The House panel on legislative franchises approved on September 14, 2021 the sale, transfer, or assignment of the controlling interest in AMBS to Planet Cable Inc.

Planet Cable is under Villar Group's Prime Asset Ventures Inc.’s telecommunications unit Streamtech Systems Technologies Inc.

With this, “the PCC recommends amending the rules to include it as [an] approving body in the assignment of vacated or available frequencies," it said.

“This is a practice done by many jurisdictions across the world, in consideration of the impact on competition of players over scarce public goods like frequencies,” it said.

In addition, the antitrust watchdog supports the passage of the proposed Open Access in Data Transmission Act to pave the way for a more transparent and fair spectrum management in the country. 

“The overarching principle followed by the PCC is to foster a level playing field among new or existing players,” it said.

The PCC also urged the public to check on the quality and price options available to the viewing public during the tenancy of AMBS, Aliw, and Sonshine Media as provisional authority-holders of frequencies previously managed by ABS-CBN. — VBL, GMA News

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