Sky Cable is a cable television service of Sky Cable Corporation, the Philippines' largest cable television provider. Its franchise area covers Metropolitan Manila and its suburb, and it has 700,000 subscribers controlling 45% of the cable TV market.
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Since it started community antenna television system operation in the Philippines on January 26, 1992, SkyCable provides cable Internet, VoIP services and digital cable TV service.
On June 6, 1990, SkyCable Corporation was incorporated via 79.3% stake in Sky Vision Corporation, operator of cable brands, SkyCable and Sun Cable.
On April 18, 1991, Sky Vision Corporation was incorporated and ventures into cable television (SkyCable and Sun Cable), communication, system, television media, shopping network (Sky Mall) and film distribution (Sky Jemah). It is owned 18.8% by ABS-CBN Corporation and 78% by Lopez Inc.
On March 30, 1995, Central CATV Inc. was granted a 25-year provisional franchise to establish, construct, maintain and operated community antenna television system in the Philippines through Republic Act 7969.
In 1997, Sky Vision Corporation acquired 47% of Pilipino Cable Corp., operator of Sun Cable for P900 million.
In 1997, SkyCable launches its first cable TV branded credit card in the Philippines, the SkyCard MasterCard with SolidBank and the SkyCard-Citibank MasterCard with Citibank N. A.
In July 2001, Unilink Communications Corp. operator of Home Cable, Philippines second largest cable TV company, merged its CATV operation to SkyCable and created Beyond Cable Inc. with an enterprise value of P14.5 billion. Beyond Cable Inc. controls 66.5% through Benpress Holdings Corp. and 33.5% through MediaQuest Holdings, Inc.
On December 7, 2001, Beyond Cable Holdings Inc. was incorporated.
In April 2008, then ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation (now ABS-CBN Corporation), which owns about two-thirds of the equity of SkyCable, started consolidating the cable company’s fiscal result into its financial report including SkyCable’s general and administrative expenses or the GAEX.
In May 2011, Singaporean firm Sampaquita Communications Pte. Ltd. acquired 40 percent of SkyCable through Philippine Depositary Receipts worth P3.612 billion and P250 million of convertible notes to fund the expansion of SkyCable’s broadband Internet and cable TV services.
On May 11, 2012, SkyCable bought Destiny Cable Inc., Uni-Cable TV Inc. and Solid Broadband Corp. 's cable TV and broadband internet assets and subscribers with consolidating value of P3.497 billion.
Basic cable packages
In order to be competitive in the cable TV industry, SkyCable adopts an alternative pricing model for its subscribers. It allows its subscribers to select their own packages or channels, comparable to a pay per channel service most generally used in the United States. SkyCable also introduces the package-pricing model typically used by other cable television providers in which channels are classified into packages.
The SkyCable postpaid bundles are categorized into 10 clusters named as Select, Bronze 299 Plus, Bronze 499, Max, Silver, Gold, Platinum, HD and a separate payment scheme for its Premium/Pay-Per-View.
Select: It is a customizable plan that allows its subscribers to choose channels on top of their preset package. Select plan is available on existing subscription either from Select 280, Plan 499, Silver or Gold plans and also requires a digital set-top boxes.
Plus: SkyCable Plus package consists of 50 channels. No longer offered to new subscribers; status of current subscribers uncertain.
Bronze 499: SkyCable Bronze 499 package consists of more than 50 channels.
399: SkyCable 399 consists of more or less than 30 channels. Available in most of regional areas.
Max: SkyCable Max package consists of 50 channels. No longer offered to new subscribers; status of current subscribers uncertain.
Silver: SkyCable Silver package consists of more than 70 channels.
Gold: SkyCable Gold package consists of more than 80 channels.
Platinum: SkyCable Platinum consisted of four packages, namely, HBO Pak, Metro Pack, MBC Pack and the SBS Pack. The HBO Pak includes three additional HBO channels: HBO Hits, HBO Signature and HBO Family. The Metro Pack is a combination of programs on current events, exploration, lifestyle, and flicks; and for the young ones. In addition to its HBO and Metro, the MBC and SBS Pack offered MBC, a South Korean television and radio networks, particularly famous for its dramas and comedies; and SBS or the Seoul Broadcasting System is also a television and radio networks in South Korea offering contents such as drama, entertainment, documentary and animation programs and engaged in the exhibition, concert and other cultural businesses, respectively. No longer offered to new subscribers, MBC and SBS were removed on their perspective packages and became premium channels on their own. Currently, HBO Pak and Metro Pack are the two packages remaining in the former pack and can be add them into the basic subscription above.
Premium/Pay-Per-View: Aside from different postpaid plans, SkyCable also offers premium subscription and pay-per-view scheme to its subscribers on top of their monthly subscription fee.
Dual Def: SkyCable Dual Def Package consists more SD channels and fewer HD channels. Whether may choose either Dual Def 499, 999, 1799 & 1999.
SkyCable also offered prepaid packages to its cable TV service, the Silver Prepaid and Select Plus Prepaid. It was a prepaid cable TV service based on a non-recurring subscription scheme and allows non-postpaid customers to subscribe to selected channels and pay only for the desire duration of viewing and the service requires a digital addressable set-top box. The prepaid plans came in an array of card denomination to choose from that is suitable to its non-postpaid subscribers. Silver Prepaid and Select Plus Prepaid packages came in similar denomination: 3, 15 and 30 days.
Silver Prepaid: Consisted of more than 70 channels.
Select Plus Prepaid: Consisted of more than 60 channels.
SkyCable coverage area for analog cable TV is available in selected areas in Metropolitan Manila and its suburb while its digital services covers key cities in the Philippines. It offers basic to premium cable TV services.
In an ongoing exertion to battle cable piracy and averting illegitimate connections, SkyCable through SkyCable Digital adopts digital video broadcasting for cable or DVB-C. It is a standard for transmitting digital television signal over cable. SkyCable uses digital video compression or distribution through its digital addressable box or the Digibox, a digital set-top box that uses the DVB-C broadcast standard to give its subscribers access to its digital infrastructure.
The Digibox provides an enhanced viewing experience with features such as crystal clear picture quality; allowing its users to customize its viewing preferences by organizing its channels and useful programming information by its real-time onscreen electronic program guide with highlights and synopsis of every program shown; and an in-house mail function for its technical and corporate announcements. One key feature of the Digibox is the parental control lock that can pre-select channels and set an automatic parental rating level that locks programs or channels. It also has built-in games, the classic Tetris and GoBang.
First Generation (Black/Silver SD-First Edition): The CDVBC5120 (first edition) is a cable digital receiver used to decode digital program sdistributed by CATV or MMDS. Designed for operators who utilize Irdeto front end, the receiver supports Irdeto CA. The available S/P DIF digital audio output brings users excellent enjoyment. Other features are: powerful single chip LSI SC2005, DVB-C/MPEG2 compliant, multi-QAM demodulation selection over QAM16, QAM32, QAM64, QAM128 and QAM256, mail and message functionality and support for Finger Print Display with aspect ratio of 4:3 and 16:9 on PAL/NTSC resolution.
Second Generation (Silver SD-Second Edition): The CDVBC5120 (second edition) is a compact standard definition digital receiver. designed for pay TV-terrestrial television operators based on the DVB-C EN300 429 demodulation standard. The product supports MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 Layer 1 and 2 for audio decoding on ISO/IEC 13818-3 while its video decoding uses the ISO/IEC 13818-2, MPEG-2 MP@Ml standard with an aspect ratio of 4:3 or 16:9 on PAL/NTSC resolution. It also uses the ISO/IEC 1381801 demultiplexer standard.
Third Generation (Black SD): The N5166 is a low cost compact SD digital receiver, designed for both free-to-air and pay TV cable services based on the DVB-C EN300 429 demodulation standard. The product is based on ISO/IEC 13818-3 audio standards and supports MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 Layer 1 and 2 audio decoding. Its video decoding uses ISO/IEC 13818-2, MPEG-2 MP@Ml standard with an aspect ratio of 4:3 or 16:9 on PAL/NTSC/Auto resolution. It also uses the ISO/IEC 1381801 demultiplexer standard.
Fourth Generation (White HD): The CDVBC-8750 HDTV provides standard and high definition reception based on the DVB-C EN300 429 demodulation standard using ISO/IEC 13818-1 demultiplexer. Its video decoding uses ISO/IEC 13818-2MP/HL, ISO/IEC 14496 with an aspect ratio of 4:3 or 16:9, and using a 1920x1980 video resolution while its audio uses ISO/IEC 13818-3, AAC, Dolby AC3 on MPEG1 Layer 1 and 2.
Fifth Generation (Silver SD/HD PVR): is an advanced and full-featured SD/HD DVR digital receiver, optimized for pay-TV cable services. The product provides standard and high definition reception based on MPEG4 (H.264)/MPEG2 and DVB-C standards. With full suite of content protection facilities, it enables viewers to download premium, pay-TV content on its hard disk drive to watch at their convenience. It uses HDMI and cable components, with Dolby Digital sound and digital video broadcasting.
SkyCable Digital’s Digibox conveys programming with encryption to alleviate signal piracy. It utilizes ISO/IEC 7816 smart cards, which transmit digital signals to the receiver to decrypt the programming for viewing. To fully consummate the Digibox, it uses Irdeto Access B.V. smart cards, which are ISO/IEC 7816 compliant. It is given to all subscribers with standard and high definition set-top boxes. The smart card stores the subscriber’s information and the plan to which they subscribe.
On December 8, 2010, SkyCable announced that it would launch a new service similar to U. S.-based TiVo for its high and standard definition services within the first quarter of 2011. Initially, the service will be called PVR or personal video recording, which has a 500GB internal hard drive enough to record 135 hours of cable programs in high definition or 217 hours for its standard definition service. Distinct from regular digital video recorders, the PVR uses the built-in electronic program guide that enables its subscribers which programs to be recorded. The new service will also feature Timeshift, a new way of recording programs to be viewed to at a time more opportune to its subscribers, and that would also allow recording of favorite programs on a time delay basis. Timeshift will also allow its subscribers or has the ability to pause live broadcast and in slow motion. On March 21, 2011, SkyCable launches its first personal video recording in the Philippines, the iRecord. It is an enhanced version of its digibox. It allows subscribers to record cable programs up to 145 hours in standard definition or 86 hours in high definition platform. It comes with a 320GB disk space.
The first cable TV branded credit card in the Philippines.
In June 1997, SkyCable in partnership with SolidBank Corporation through Solidcard Products Corp. launches the first cable TV branded credit card in the Philippines, the SkyCard MasterCard. A fully integrated credit card exclusive to its qualified subscribers. At the height of partnership, First Metro Investment Corp., a financing house of Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company is in talks with SolidBank Corp. for possible merger and acquisition. On June 1, 2000, First Metro Investment Corp. fully acquired the financial and non-real estate resources of SolidBank. And on September 22, 2000, First Metro Investment Corp. completed its acquisition of SolidBank Corp. and its subsidiaries AB Card and Solidcard Products corporations and launches its own brand, the Metrobank Value MasterCard. At the time of the merger, SkyCable through Sky Vision Corporation turned its financial facilities and transferred its SkyCard MasterCard accounts to Citibank N. A. and rebranded it to SkyCard-Citibank MasterCard. Months after it was launched, the SkyCard-Citibank MasterCard failed to reach its target market and eventually ended the partnership.
Carriage and content disputes
GMA Network signal tampering/distortion
In February 2003, GMA Network, Inc., operator of a close competitor to ABS-CBN filed a complaint against SkyCable for allegedly moving GMA Network from channel 12 without approval of the National Telecommunication Commission. Local authorities decided on April 25, 2003 that SkyCable violated the provisions of Memorandum Circular 4-08-88 and ordered to carry the free-to-air television signal on its system except when theoretically impracticable. It also ordered SkyCable to faithfully and strictly conforms with the requirements and to conclude from randomly changing channel assignments without notice and approval from local authorities. As a result, SkyCable filed a motion for reconsideration addressing the rule invalidate the means as it conflicts with a state law on intellectual property but local authorities denied the motion and directed SkyCable to comply with its previous decision. Consequently, the latter filed another appeal through an appellate court but still rejected their request and ordered them to conform to local authorities resolution.
Solar Entertainment however, retaliated by expanding its partnership with the terrestrial broadcaster Radio Philippines Network; adding programming from its C/S cable channel to its primetime lineup, and using the channel as part of its successful bid against ABS-CBN for the next PBA broadcast contract.
On August 1, 1999, SkyCable axes AXN from its programming lineup due to low and poor content, and too much violence on its programming. In addition to various complains from its subscribers, no new programming lineup was offered by AXN. Consequently, SkyCable replaced AXN with a business channel, Bloomberg Television. In May 2000, AXN resumed its broadcast in SkyCable and offered AXN to its programming lineup as one of its exclusive channels.
TV5 files complaint
On March 14, 2011 local television network, TV5 through its parent company, ABC Development Corporation filed a complaint to the local National Telecommunications Commission against SkyCable. The latter accused SkyCable of unfair practice for refusing to carry its news channel, Aksyon TV. Under NTC Memorandum Circular 4-08-88, all cable and satellite companies in the Philippines must carry all free-to-air local channels on its lineup. On April 1, 2011, SkyCable announced the inclusion of AksyonTV to its lineup effective May 4 on channel 61 which was being occupied by a religious channel, EWTN. However on April 28 2011, SkyCable said it would start airing the channel on April 30, four days earlier from its original pronouncement and it will only be available through its digital platform.
First Generation (CDVBC-5120 - first edition) Standard Definition Digibox
Second Generation (CDVBC-5120 - second edition) Standard Definition Digibox
Third Generation (N5166) Standard Definition Digibox
Fourth Generation (CDVBC-8750) High Definition Digibox
Irdeto Access B. V. smart cards, ISO/IEC 7816 compliant