MANILA - A potential closure of a major industry player such as ABS-CBN could be a "cause for concern" in terms of competition, an official of the country's anti-trust body said on Monday.
At least 89 percent of market share is controlled by ABS-CBN, GMA Network, TV5, and CNN Philippines or Nine Media Corp., Commissioner Johannes Bernabe of the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) told a Senate hearing on ABS-CBN's franchise.
ABS-CBN controls 31 percent to 44 percent of market share based on data from Kantar Media. Its rival GMA Network holds 34 to 46 percent or 40 percent on average using another metric from Nielsen TV Audience Measurement, Bernabe said.
If ABS-CBN goes off air, its market share will "gravitate" towards the competition. In other jurisdiction, an increase of market share of at least 10 percent already "raises a red flag," Bernabe said.
"If ABS-CBN were to close down, that 31 percent to 44 percent they hold as market share will gravitate in proportion to what you already see now...The consumers will obviously have less choice in so far as available newscasts and programs are concerned," Bernabe said.
"We cannot make any judgment or conclusions at this point. Suffice it to say, other jurisdiction would tend to see it as something that might have an effect on competition which is a cause for concern," he said.
Solicitor General Jose Calida earlier questioned ABS-CBN's franchise before the Supreme Court, citing violations such as operating pay-per-view services and breaching the cap on foreign ownership in media firms.
Officials of the Lopez-led company faced senators during a Committee on Public Services hearing Monday. ABS-CBN earlier said it did not violate its franchise provisions, and that all its services have been approved by authorities.
On the issue of foreign ownership, Securities and Exchange Commission said ABS-CBN's Philippine Depository Receipts complied with regulations during its issuance.
The Bureau of Internal Revenue, meanwhile, said the company has been paying its taxes regularly.
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