Senate approves bill penalizing Internet tappers, cable TV pilferage

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The Senate on Monday, Jan 28, passed on third and final reading a bill prohibiting cable television and Internet tapping and penalizing offenders with imprisonment of two to five years and/or a fine of P50,000 to P100,000.

With the passage of Senate Bill No. 3345 or the Anti-Cable Television and Cable Internet Tapping Act of 2012, illegal tapping of any signal offered over cable television (CATV) or cable Internet system and the malicious destruction or removal of authorized CATV or cable Internet facilities will be prohibited.

The bill also prohibits recording, reproducing, distributing, importing or selling of any intercepted or received CATV system/network signals for commercial purposes without the authority of the concerned CATV or cable Internet service provider.

“Cable television and cable Internet industries serve as effective sources of news, information, education, sports events and entertainment programs. They have been recognized as effective media for the attainment of a well-informed, well-versed and culturally refined citizenry,” Sen. Gregorio ?Gringo? Honasan said in his sponsorship speech.

“The continued expansion of these industries is challenged by unauthorized interception, reception or use of their signals and services,” Honasan added.

During recent a public hearing of the Senate Committee on Public Information and Mass Media chaired by Honasan, it was reported that there is an estimated 1.5 million unauthorized cable connections as opposed to 2 million legitimate cable subscribers which resulted in huge losses that legitimate cable television operators suffer from cable pilferage, lost market share, higher programming cost, and foregone revenue.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile also expressed his concern that statistics from 2004 showed that the cable industry reportedly lost P3.92 billion from signal theft and illegal connections.

According to Enrile, P2.13 billion was “foregone government revenues in the form of taxes, import duties and licensing fees” for that year. In the following year, the cable industry losses increased to P5 billion.

“There is no existing law that addresses large scale pilferage of cable wires and cable transmissions in the Philippines. The government must respond to the clamor of CATV providers for a law that would shield them against the high incidence of cable theft. Cable TV theft not only causes huge operational losses on the part of CATV operators, but also greatly affects the signal and standard of service on the part of the subscribers. The unauthorized tapping into the systems of cable operators poses grave and severe threats to the existence and survival of the CATV and cable Internet industry,” Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr. said.

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