Civil group calls on watchdog to stand up and reject True-Dtac merger

The Council of State replied on July 27 that it did not accept the request for deliberation, prompting the NBTC to request on August 25 the Prime Minister to order the Council of State to accept the request.

The civil group argued that the NBTC is an independent organization under the Constitution and therefore should not bow to the government.

He noted that Article 60 of the charter requires the NBTC to supervise telecommunications companies to ensure free and fair competition taking into account public and national interests.

If the merger is approved, various service costs would increase by a range of 2.03 to 244 percent, with competition dropping from three major telecom players to two, the group added.

He also expressed concern that a merger would penalize smaller retailers, as the merged company would use its own retail channels to sell SIM cards. CP Group, the parent company of True Corp, also owns 7-Eleven and retail chain Lotus.

On August 24, the NBTC voted 3-2 to ask the Council of State, through the Prime Minister’s Office, to consider whether the NBTC has the power to stop the merger.

A month earlier, True and Dtac executives held a joint press conference to say the NBTC had no power to stop the merger, saying the telecommunications law allowed the deal to continue without permission from the telecommunications watchdog. The two companies said the NBTC only had the power to regulate the merged company through consumer protection measures.

The August 24 NBTC meeting also considered a joint letter from True and Dtac asking the telecommunications watchdog to expedite its decision.

True Corp launched a public campaign on its TrueVisions network, saying the public would stand to gain from the new tech company that would be created after the merger.

The NBTC responded by posting “five facts about the True-Dtac merger” on its website on Thursday. The “five facts” indicated the negative impacts of the merger.

The following day, True and Dtac complained that the publication of the “five facts” had caused public misunderstanding, damaging their reputations and their business.

The NBTC then hastily deleted the post from its website.

Valerie J. Wallis