MANILA – National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba on Monday said the continued operations of ABS-CBN’s digital television service, TV Plus, is a violation of its cease and desist order (CDO) against the network.
During the House hearing on ABS-CBN’s franchise, Cordoba said ABS-CBN’s TV Plus should have ceased operations because the legislative franchise granted by Congress to the network already expired on May 4.
“Dapat po hindi nila ginagawa yun, your honors, dahil ‘yung ABS-CBN franchise ay expired na. At yung pag-ere ng digital broadcast doon ay mali po yun, ang ginagawa nila (They should not be doing that, your honors, because ABS-CBN’s franchise has already expired. At the airing [of programs] through digital broadcast is also wrong). That is a violation of the CDO that we issued,” Cordoba said.
ABS-CBN went off the air on May 5 after the NTC issued a cease and desist order against the local media giant following the expiration of its franchise.
“Yung pag-ere ng ABS-CBN ng digital TV sa Channel 43 ay kasama sa CDO dahil ang franchise na ginamit nila for digital broadcasting ay yung ABS-CBN (ABS-CBN’s airing of digital TV on Channel 43 is part of the cease and desist order because the franchise that they used for that is ABS-CBN’s franchise),” he said.
Cordoba noted that he has received guidance from the Office of the Solicitor General that the NTC is authorized to issue an alias cease and desist order against the continued broadcast of ABS-CBN programs through the digibox.
“Ito ngayon ay inaaral na ng aming legal department. At kung sakaling okay naman ang kanilang pag-aaral ay we will issue ‘yung aming alias cease and desist order (Our legal department is currently studying this. And if the study turns out okay, we will issue the alias cease and desist order),” he said.
ABS-CBN President and chief executive officer (CEO) Carlo Katigbak, for his part, pointed out that in the past, the NTC has permitted other broadcast companies — whose franchises have expired but their application for renewal is pending in Congress — to continue their operations until such time that the franchise application is either approved or denied.
“We would like permission to ask the same privilege be extended sana (hopefully) to ABS-CBN in the spirit of fairness,” Katigbak said.
He explained that the ABS-CBN is using the franchise of Amcara Broadcasting Network for its Channel 43 operations through a block time arrangement.
Katigbak said a block time arrangement is a standard commercial arrangement where a company is allowed to buy airtime from a duly licensed broadcaster.
Anakalusugan Party-list Rep. Mike Defensor said NTC’s move allowing the continued operation of TV Plus is a usurpation and infringement on the powers of Congress to grant or deny broadcast franchises.
“Malinaw sa akin, it is a violation of the powers of Congress. It is a violation of our constitutional mandate na tayo lang ang magbibigay ng prangkisa (that we are the only ones [with the power] to grant franchises),” Defensor said.
Deputy Majority Leader Boying Remulla said there is a “ripe” case against Cordoba before the Ombudsman for “willfully disobeying the power of Congress to issue franchises and allowing an entity to operate without a franchise and earn money at the same time”. Filane Mikee Cervantes /PNA – northboundasia.com