Local cable operators are howling foul over “unfair competition” from foreign giants AXN Network Philippines Inc. and Fox International Channels Philippines Corp., saying the companies’ “illegal activities”
in the local cable television (CATV) industry “pose threats to the continuing viability of constitutionally protected domestic industries and employment of its thousands of workers.”
In a statement, the Philippine Cable Television Association Inc. (PCTA), appealed for government intervention in what it claimed was Fox and AXN’s “wholesale violation of the Constitution, statutes and rules and regulations governing both mass media and advertising industries.
“One only needs to turn on his/her cable television to see that both Fox and AXN—foreign companies by any definition – have somehow been able to provide programming content locally while engaging in advertising activities—both expressly prohibited by Philippine laws,” said PCTA President Leo Wong.
The 1987 Charter limits the ownership and management of mass media to citizens of the Philippines, or to corporations, cooperatives, or associations, wholly owned and managed by such citizens.
“Surprisingly enough, a simple check with the Securities and Exchange Commission [SEC] will reveal that foreign shares constitute 99.99 percent of ownership for both Fox and AXN.
Still, and undeniably to the detriment of local mass media and advertising industries, these foreign giants have been able to marginalize local industries with impunity for the longest time,” added Wong.
PCTA said “the CATV industry is part of the mass media industry, specifically commercial mass media as impliedly recognized by Executive Order 205, series of 1987, the fundamental statute regulating the operation of CATV systems in the Philippines.
“How they have been able to provide programming content locally despite these laws beg for appropriate government intervention,” appealed the PCTA.
Moreover, the group argued that both Fox and AXN have also been able to engage in advertising activities in the country despite the Foreign Investments Act Negative List, which states that the mass media industry cannot have foreign equity and the advertising industry can only have up to 30 percent foreign equity.
“Entering into sponsorship and advertising contracts clearly constitutes engaging in advertising, as so does airing of advertisements through programming content given to CATV operators nationwide,” explained Wong.
“We, local CATV operators as well as those in the local advertising industry, who abide by Philippine laws, and pay appropriate Philippine taxes only appeal for the conscientious implementation of laws that already exist for our protection against those who violate them,” the group added.