Philippines in cable copyright battle

Proceedings follow succession of complaints

HONG KONG — The Philippines Dept. of Justice has begun criminal proceedings against local cable TV operator Maguindanao Skycable CATV and several board members, alleging 12 counts of copyright infringement.

Legal proceedings follow a long succession of complaints against the cabler, which is based in the southern city of Cotabato City.

In September 2005, Maguindanao Skycable was one of several companies raided by the National Bureau of Investigation’s Intellectual Property Rights Division for illegally acquiring and transmitting copyrighted programming.

Rights owners that brought the complaints included AXN, CNN Intl., Cartoon Network, Discovery Channel, the Disney Channel, ESPN Star Sports, HBO Asia, MTV Asia, National Geographic, Star Movies, Star World and Star Sports. Their actions are coordinated by Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Assn. of Asia (Casbaa).

Casbaa Thursday welcomed the criminal proceedings.

“With this decision, the DoJ demonstrates the Philippine government’s strong political will to address the worsening pay TV piracy situation,” said Casbaa CEO Simon Twiston Davies. “We are pleased with this development and eager to see the prosecution of the complaints.”

The Philippine Cable Television Assn. also welcomed the news, calling it a “positive step toward creating a competitive Philippine pay TV market that provides a level playing field for cable operators.”

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