MANILA – The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) defied Congress by issuing a cease and desist order to ABS-CBN after the network’s broadcast franchise expired, a lawmaker said Tuesday.
“This act of the National Telecommunications Commission of issuing a Cease and Desist Order (CDO) against ABS-CBN, is in complete defiance of the House of Representatives and the Senate,” BUHAY party-list Rep. Lito Atienza said in a statement.
The NTC in March said it would issue a provisional authority to allow ABS-CBN and its subsidiaries to operate until June 2022, while Congress continues to deliberate on its franchise renewal bid.
Closing down ABS-CBN while the country battles the COVID-19 crisis where accurate information is needed is “a case of bad timing,” Atienza said.
“We again urge Speaker Cayetano to immediately act on this problem. Congress should be ready to vote on this issue, it being the only body authorized to act on this crucial matter,” he said.
Eleven bills renewing ABS-CBN's franchise had languished at the House of Representatives until the franchise expired May 4.
Solicitor General Jose Calida earlier sought the high court to invalidate franchises of ABS-CBN Corp. and ABS-CBN Convergence citing alleged abuses, including supposed violations of restrictions on foreign ownership.
The Lopez-led network, which reaches millions of Filipinos through its television, radio and online platforms, said it had not broken the law in its 65-year service.
“We did not violate the law. This case appears to be an attempt to deprive Filipinos of the services of ABS-CBN,” the company said in a statement.
ABS-CBN and its subsidiaries have more than 11,000 employees.
In response to NTC’s order, ABS-CBN went off the air Tuesday night following 65 years of service.
"Millions of Filipinos will lose their source of news and entertainment when ABS-CBN is ordered to go off-air on TV and radio tonight (5 May 2020) when people need crucial and timely information as the nation deals with the COVID-19 pandemic," ABS-CBN Corp. said in a statement.
"This is in compliance with the cease and desist order issued by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) today that prohibits ABS-CBN from continuing its broadcast operations effective immediately," it said.
News.abs-cbn.com is the official news website of ABS-CBN Corp.