MANILA - A group of cable TV operators said it opposes the renewal of ABS-CBN's franchise because the network committed several "violations" with its TV Plus digital TV box service.
The Federation of International Cable TV Associations of the Philippines (FICTAP) told a Senate hearing on Monday that ABS-CBN has been operating its TV Plus service "without permits" and this has caused FICTAP members to "lose business."
"The unlicensed ABS-CBN TV Plus black box also caused our organization, composed of micro, small, medium cable operators, usually owned by OFWs, to lose business with their unlicensed activities," said FICTAP Chair Estrellita Juliano-Tamano.
TV Plus provides 11 free exclusive channels, including 2 channels for movies, as well as the Kapamilya Box Office (KBO), a pay service that allows users to view exclusive content.
The KBO offering was one of the supposed violations cited by Solicitor General Jose Calida in pushing for the shutdown of the Philippines' largest broadcaster.
FICTAP called on the National Telecommunication Commission (NTC) to impose fines and other penalties on ABS-CBN for operating TV Plus without permits. The group also called on the NTC to immediately stop the operations of TV Plus.
ABS-CBN, meanwhile, maintained that its broadcast services have the necessary regulatory approvals.
“ABS-CBN complies with all pertinent laws governing its franchise and has secured all necessary government and regulatory approvals for its business operations," the company said in an earlier statement.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra also told senators on Monday that ABS-CBN's broadcast franchise authorized the network to introduce a pay-per-view (PPV) feature.
He said the phrase “commercial purposes” in ABS-CBN’s franchise was “broad enough” to allow the PPV feature.
The NTC, meanwhile, said that despite the Department of Justice (DOJ) opinion, there was still a violation on the part of ABS-CBN because the NTC had yet to release guidelines on the PPV service.
"But in a way po, may violation din po sila because wala naman po yung implementing rules and regulations dahil po gagawin pa po namin, dahil may ika-clarify pa po na part ng opinion," said
NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba.
(But in a way, there's still a violation because there are still no implementing rules and regulations because we have yet to draft them because we still need to clarify part of the DOJ opinion.)
Cordoba said a P200 fine could be imposed on ABS-CBN because of the violation.
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