DreamTV operator seeks regulator help over satellite TV dispute

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 19 2009 11:01 PM | Updated as of Jan 20 2009 07:01 AM

Philippine Multi-Media System, Inc. (PMSI), the operator of Dream TV, said subscriptions to its direct-to-home (DTH) satellite television service has been affected by Global Broadcasting and Multimedia, Inc.'s (GBMI) illegal offering of the same service.

It said in a filing with the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) that this became most evident during the period preceding the boxing match between Manny Pacquiao and Oscar De la Hoya last December 7.

In previous years, Solar Entertainment Corp. has usually availed of PMSI's DTH satellite TV service in showing pay-per view sporting events. PMSI would usually offer pay-per view subscription for these sporting events to its DTH satellite TV subscribers and Solar would normally utilize PMSI's DTH satellite TV service in exhibiting these sporting events to various viewing venues nationwide.

However, PMSI said that for the scheduled boxing fight, Solar did not avail of PMSI's DTH satellite TV service. PMSI found out that the reason for this was that Solar instead opted to utilize GBMI's DTH satellite TV service to transmit the program signals to Solar's viewing venues.

A memorandum of agreement between Solar and its viewing partners indicated that the satellite receiver to be used for receiving the program signals at the viewing venue is that of GBMI.

"As a result of such an arrangement between GBMI and Solar, PMSI had lost otherwise assured revenues since if not for GBMI's unlawful participation, PMSI would have continued to be Solar's only DTH satellite TV option for its viewing venues by default," said PMSI in its filing.

GBMI denied it was operating a DTH satellite television service but said it was merely undergoing a test on the satellite signal and planned dealership. GBMI, the directors of which are from the broadcast industry's top officials, had already been ordered by the NTC to stop operating a DTH service but has filed an appeal to lift the cease and desist order (CDO).

"(PMSI's) complaint stated no cause of action, and that (GBMI) did not commit any violation or circumvention of the law. The feasibility test carried out is not the transaction that requires authority from the NTC, nor does the same violate any law, rule or memorandum circular governing the operation of a DTH service," GBMI had earlier told the NTC.

But PMSI said that if GBMI is claiming that it is not engaged in the activities sought to be restrained by the CDO, then there is therefore no need to lift the order since GBMI would not be affected if it is not indeed engaged in DTH satellite TV service.

"By allowing and authorizing Solar to utilize GBMI's DTH satellite TV service, GBMI clearly and undoubtedly is engaged in the commercial operation of a DTH satellite TV service in the country without the necessary authority from the NTC and not merely engaged in a feasibility test likewise unauthorized by the NTC," added PMSI.

PMSI also alleged that Global Destiny Cable TV (Global) was assisting GBMI in marketing the latter's DTH offering.

Records from the Securities and Exchange Commission showed that GBMI directors include Philippine Cable Television Association (PCTA) president Allan Dungao and director Jose Lobregat; Destiny Cable Inc. president and chief executive officer Philip Chien; Solid Group president David Lim; and Solar Entertainment Corp. president Wilson Tieng, among others.

Records also has it that GBMI is a registered Philippine corporation organized primarily "to engage in DTH service, radio, TV broadcastings, data transmission, all wire and wireless transmission by all forms of high technology, production of entertainment program contents and distribution."

Aside from PMSI, Lopez-led SkyCable Corp. also filed a similar complaint against GBMI. It argued that GBMI's illegal entry into the industry would result in the unnecessary duplication of an existing service that existing cable TV and DTH-TV service providers already adequately provide.

Aside from PMSI, other DTH firms legally operating in the country are GV Broadcasting Systems, Inc., Inc., Altimax Broadcasting Co., Inc., and Pacific Cable Inc.