House panel to probe ABS-CBN blocktime deal with Amcara

Christian V. Esguerra, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 06 2020 08:59 PM

MANILA--The House Committee on Good Government will conduct a separate investigation into ABS-CBN's blocktime agreement with Amcara Broadcasting Corp., one of the issues raised by a number of congressmen seeking to deny the shuttered media network a new operating franchise.

Cavite Rep. Jesus Crispin Remulla described the deal as a usufruct, an arrangement that allegedly allowed ABS-CBN to enjoy the broadcast frequency of the other company despite a government shutdown order.

The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) issued a cease-and-desist order against ABS-CBN's free TV and radio broadcast after its franchise expired on May 4.

Last June 30, the NTC, prompted by the Solicitor General and some congressmen, also pulled the plug on the ABS-CBN channels on its TVplus digital boxes, using Amcara's frequency.

The new order also covered ABS-CBN's broadcast over Sky Cable Corp.'s direct-to-home satellite transmission, further limiting the platforms on which the network could still broadcast.

Remulla on Monday cited a social media post by ABS-CBN reporter Jeff Canoy about an ABS-CBN engineer who switched off the transmission to TVplus following the NTC order.

The congressman said Amcara should have been the one that pressed the button.

"At that point, there were some limitations in being able to do it in a much quicker time. So yung napag-usapan dun is that we would shut it off because we have that capability to shut it off quickly," ABS-CBN chairman Mark Lopez explained.

"Ang lumalabas, nagba-blocktime kayo sa sarili nya," Remulla remarked, an allegation Lopez denied.

The NTC earlier told congressmen that the signal of Amcara's Channel 43 had been traced to ABS-CBN's power on Mother Ignacia Street in Quezon City.

Amcara chairman Rodrigo Carandang explained last week that ABS-CBN had bought the transmitter for Channel 43, which the NTC assigned to it through a provisional authority for test digital broadcasting. 

ABS-CBN and Amcara executed a deed of assignment covering the digital TV transmitters, but the deal has yet to be completed before the NTC, he said.