Antitrust body to 'carefully' watch competition concerns after ABS-CBN shutdown

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 21 2020 10:37 AM | Updated as of Jul 21 2020 10:43 AM

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MANILA - The Philippine Competition Commission said Tuesday it would "carefully" watch the development in the free TV industry following the government shutdown of ABS-CBN and Congress’ rejection of its bid for a fresh 25-year franchise.

With ABS-CBN's free TV and radio stations closed, the market share could "consolidate" towards the competition and the increase in market shares "is associated with increase in ability and incentive to abuse market power," PCC chair Arsenio Balisacan told ANC. 

Balisacan said the antitrust body submitted its position during the House of Representatives' hearing on ABS-CBN's franchise. The PCC presented scenarios including the "fear that the market will become less competitive," he said.

"That’s where we come in to make sure that as the market consolidates, if it consolidates at all, we need to make sure that we are there to review the situation and flag necessary concerns," Balisacan said.

"The franchise was not renewed so we need to watch what happened next if it's going to be purchased by a current player, then that has to be examined... we will watch that development carefully," he added.

The agency could intervene once remaining players become more expensive, and if the quality of services gets poorer, he said.

The House Committee on Legislative Franchises has denied ABS-CBN a new 25-year franchise, permanently shutting its free TV and radio stations nationwide.

The PCC earlier said its merger review has resumed after it was suspended during the enhanced community quarantine. Maintaining competition in a time of pandemic is crucial to protect small firms from abusive acquisitions, Balisacan said.

It currently has about 10 mergers and acquisitions pending for review, he said.