5 Years In Prison For CATV Thieves Under Proposed RP Law

October 7, 2007 at 9:13 pm | Posted in 1 | Leave a comment

MANILA, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Oct. 07, 2007) – A Philippine lawmaker has proposed a bill that will finally criminalize illegal cable television connections in the country where at least P7 billion in revenues are lost every year from the illicit activities.

Rep. Joseph Santiago, chairman of the House committee on information and communications technology, said the widespread illegal cable television (CATV) connection in the Philippines is alarming.

“There is no question that extensive illicit CATV connections not only cost private service providers staggering financial losses, but also deprive the government billions of pesos in tax revenues,” Santiago said in a statement sent to the Mindanao Examiner.

He said the Philippine Cable TV Association (PCTVA) estimates that its members have been losing at least P7 billion in combined subscription fee income as a result of rampant signal piracy.

“Based on this estimate, in terms of value-added tax revenues alone, at 12 percent (of the P7 billion), we are easily looking at P840 million in potential tax revenue losses every year,” the Catanduanes lawmaker said.

“Tis does not include increased corporate income taxes on CATV operators that should be earning much more, if not for signal piracy. So we can easily round off to at least P1 billion the government’s annual tax revenue loss,” Santiago added.

Santiago said he introduced a bill proposing to “criminalize” all unlawful CATV connections.

According to the PCTVA, illegal users now outnumber legitimate subscribers three to one. The industry group reckons that its members have a total of 1.5 million paying subscribers, and three to four million illicitly connected users.

Under his Bill 4665, Santiago said, anyone caught with an unauthorized CATV or Internet connection would face two to five years in prison, and a fine of P50,000 to P100,000.

Santiago said the spread of illicit connections is threatening the survival of the local CATV industry.

“Apart from this, the illegal tapping of CATV signal is totally unfair to paying subscribers, who tend to suffer degraded signal quality as well as recurring service interruptions,” he said.

Once enacted, Santiago’s bill would enable CATV providers to recover from pilferage losses caused by the unauthorized use, interconnection or reception of services.

The PCTVA said illegal connections remain unchecked because there is no law to help them catch pirates. The industry could easily double its annual taxable subscription fee receipts from P10 billion to P20 billion once piracy is stopped, the association said.

Largely on account of signal theft, the country’s CATV operators have dwindled from about 1,000 a few years ago to only 400, according to the National Telecommunications Commission.

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