THE Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) said it would prefer to participate in the process of allocating broadcast frequencies in order to advise regulators on the implications for competition, following the recent award of frequencies previously held by ABS-CBN.
“Even without an amendment of the law, regulations, good governance practice, of the sectoral regulators, for instance in this case, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), could already accommodate such practice of involving the PCC in the allocation of frequencies,” PCC Commissioner Johannes Benjamin R. Bernabe said in a television interview on Wednesday.
However, he said it might be good for the law to explicitly provide for PCC’s participation in the allocation of frequencies.
“That has been done in other countries. For instance, our counterparts in Australia are involved in how frequencies are allocated. The same in other jurisdictions as well,” Mr. Bernabe said.
Asked to comment further, Mr. Bernabe said in a Viber message that the specific law is Republic Act (RA) No. 3846 or the Radio Control Law.
“It’s primarily the Radio Control Law. Though Republic Act No. 7925 (Public Telecommunications Policy Act) also provides general principles, the more specific mandate on frequency allocation is provided for by RA 3846, albeit to the Secretary of Commerce and Communications since there was no NTC yet back then,” Mr. Bernabe said.
According to Mr. Bernabe, the commission wishes to be involved in allocating frequencies, which he described as “scarce resources,” to provide a competition perspective.
“Because it impacts competition and consumer welfare, we believe that the PCC should have a say in how these frequencies or scarce resources as inputs to communication services are allocated,” Mr. Bernabe said.
Mr. Bernabe said the allocation of frequencies should be done as a collaborative effort to avoid adding burdens and expenses to applicants.
“We don’t want a situation where (a company is) sitting on (more) frequencies than necessary for (it) to be able to deliver the service,” Mr. Bernabe said.
“Insofar as the competition perspective is concerned, insofar as how the allocation of frequencies might influence future competition, it would be good to have a competition authority that provides inputs to that allocation process,” he added.
The PCC has said that the reallocation of frequencies formerly assigned to ABS-CBN is not covered by the merger review provisions stipulated in RA 10667, or the Philippine Competition Act.
Recently, NTC announced that digital Channel 16 and analog Channel 2 were awarded to the Villar-controlled Advanced Media Broadcasting System, Inc. while Channel 23 was assigned to Aliw Broadcasting Corp., and Channel 43 was granted to Swara Sug Media Corp. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave