Why only ABS-CBN? NTC says 'nobody' complained vs other networks


Posted at May 08 2020 11:22 AM

Why only ABS-CBN? NTC says 'nobody' complained vs other networks 1
Noli de Castro anchors TV Patrol's first full digital broadcast on May 7, 2020. ABS-CBN's flagship newscast made its final broadcast 2 days after the NTC shut down the Philippines' largest media and entertainment company. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The National Telecommunications Commission, which shut down ABS-CBN Corp because of an expired franchise, said Friday the broadcaster's peers who faced the same predicament in the past were allowed to operate for simple lack of opposition.

The NTC issued a "cease and desist" order against ABS-CBN, on the prodding of Solicitor General Jose Calida, who had also questioned the franchise before the Supreme Court. The network signed off late Tuesday.

"Nobody raised issues about these," Deputy Commissioner Edgardo Cabarios told ANC's Matters of Fact, referring to other firms that were allowed to broadcast on a provisional basis until their licenses were renewed.

ABS-CBN's case is different because "there are issues that were raised," he said. "There are those that are challenging the validity of the franchise. Opinions have been raised by prominent individuals. Hindi na puwede (It can't go on), we cannot just keep quiet."

Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said earlier Friday that the NTC "succumbed" to the "unconstitutional meddling by the Solicitor General."

The House, under Cayetano, failed to tackle several bills seeking a new franchise for ABS-CBN, saying more time was needed. The bills were filed as early as 2014, and were re-filed in 2016 and 2019.

Cabarios said "nobody has influenced the commission" in its decision against ABS-CBN. "We have our own staff who studied it," he said.

Other broadcasters and telcos with pending franchise renewals were allowed to operate based on "exchanges of notes, exchanges of letters," between NTC and Congress, Cabarios said.

While the House and the Senate issued resolutions urging the NTC to issue a provisional authority for ABS-CBN, there was no specific instruction to allow the network to operate beyond the expiration of its franchise, he said.

In March, Cabarios told senators that the NTC would allow ABS-CBN to operate until June 2022 while its franchise renewal papers are still lodged in Congress "unless [they] are restrained by the court."

ABS-CBN asked the Supreme Court on Thursday to issue a temporary restraining order against the NTC's cease and desist order and allow the network to resume broadcast operations.