MANILA - ABS-CBN's digital TV box with multi-channel capability as well as its pay-per-view service complied with the National Telecommunications Commission's (NTC) digital migration plan launched in 2014, the network's head of legal services Caesar Poblador said Monday.
An implementing rules and regulation was issued by the NTC in 2014, which became effective on January the following year, mandated TV broadcasters to shift from analog to digital for TV transmission, Poblador said during a House hearing on the network's alleged franchise violations.
"In short they have to digitize their signals...TVPlus, it’s multichannel capability and KBO are the digital enhanced services that ABS provided in fulfilment of this NTC mission," Poblador said.
Poblador said digital services allowed under the said rule, which took effect on January 1, 2015 include:
- multiple SD TV or HD TV channels
- clear picture and sound
- integrated emergency warning broadcast
- other services as may become available in the future
- new programs in addition to analog legacy program
Federation of International Cable TV and Telecommunication Association of the Philippines (FICTAP) chair Estrellita Juliano-Tamano earlier said ABS-CBN's TVPlus and its pay-per-view feature were illegal, insisting there should be one franchise per channel.
But Poblador said ABS-CBN's franchise or RA 7966, did not say that a franchise was only good for one channel. Offering multiple channels also do not require permits as it is covered by the NTC memorandum on migration issued in 2014, Poblador said.
"The phenomenon of multichannel format just follows the digital migration plan of the NTC," he said.
"Does the offering of multichannel requires permit? The answer is simply no, you just have to go back again to the memorandum circular 2014," added.
ABS-CBN's pay-per-view KBO also did not violate its franchise since it was covered by its clause that said "for commercial purposes," Poblador said. The DOJ affirmed the statement in a Senate hearing in February.
Selling of TVPlus boxes is also an "essential part of migration" since analog TVs need the box to read digitized signals, Poblador said. The network has sold over 9 million boxes and the retail of such boxes is not a franchise activity, he said.
Several bills are seeking to renew the franchise of ABS-CBN are pending in Congress, while its TV and radio stations nationwide remain shut.
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