PCC seeks role in ABS-CBN frequencies’ re-allocation

Anti-trust watchdog Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) would like to be included in the approving body in the controversial reallocation of ABS-CBN frequencies in favor of Advanced Media Broadcasting System (AMBS), Aliw Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), and Swara Sug Media Corporation (SSMC).

In a statement, PCC said it “recommends amending the rules to include it as approving body in the assignment of vacated or available frequencies.” According to PCC, 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.

PCC acknowledged that the re-allocation of the said frequencies in favor of AMBS, ABC, and SSMC is a regulatory function of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC).

It is not also covered by the provisions on merger review under the Philippine Competition Act, and thus need not be notified to the PCC. In the case of AMBS, this limits PCC’s purview until details of AMBS’ acquisition by the Villar Group, including its relation to Streamtech Systems Technologies Inc., are made public.

Despite such constraints, the commission stressed the overarching principle of PCC to foster a level playing field among new or existing players.

PCC also enjoined the public to check on the quality and price options available to the viewing public during the tenancy of AMBS, ABC, and SSMC as provisional authority-holders of frequencies previously managed by ABS-CBN.

Moreover, PCC supports the passage of the "Open Access in Data Transmission Act" to pave the way for a more transparent and fair spectrum management in the country.