Philippine broadcasting risks 'imbalance' without ABS-CBN: Cable TV operators

Jessica Fenol and Warren De Guzman, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 27 2020 01:07 PM | Updated as of Feb 27 2020 06:15 PM

MANILA -- An "imbalance" in Philippine broadcasting is likely should ABS-CBN Corp stop operations, the head of a group of cable operators said Thursday.

The National Telecommunications Commission should also clarify rules on the pay-per-view feature of ABS-CBN's digital TV service, which the Solicitor General cited in a petition asking the Supreme Court to void ABS-CBN's franchise, said Philippine Cable TV Association Inc president Ronaldo Manlapig.

ABS-CBN's franchise will expire on May 4. The House of Representatives has yet to start hearings on several bills seeking a new license for the network. ABS-CBN executives answered questions on alleged franchise violations before a Senate hearing last Monday.

President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday said he accepted an apology from ABS-CBN President Carlo Katigbak for the network's airing of a 2016 campaign ad that was funded by the then Davao City mayor's nemesis.

Also on Thursday, the President's daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio said she was in favor of renewing ABS-CBN's franchise.

"The cessation of its operations will create an impact on the industry… It will create an imbalance in the broadcast industry," Manlapig told ABS-CBN News.

"The ripple effect is that first the economy… There 11,000 employees that will be dislocated, displaced," he said.

Philippine Cable TV Association president Ronaldo Manlapig speaks to ABS-CBN News

ABS-CBN's digital service, TVplus, offers free channels, and a pay-per-view service called Kapamilya Box Office or KBO.

"NTC, whenever there is an issue, they have to resolve them prudently, so that there won’t be any confusion. It’s up to the regulatory body to clarify," Manlapig said. 

ABS-CBN also produces "quality content" for cable channels including its subsidiary Sky Cable, he said.

The Federation of International Cable TV Associations of the Philippines earlier said it opposed a new franchise for ABS-CBN since it has been operating TVplus without permits. ABS-CBN said it has the necessary regulatory approvals.