MANILA - Deputy Speaker Rodante Marcoleta on Monday went after ABS-CBN's cable franchise, questioning why its channels were still airing the broadcast network's programs despite the shutdown.
Marcoleta said Sky Cable's separate 25-year operating franchise had expired last March 30. Sky Cable includes ANC, the 24/7 English news channel of ABS-CBN.
"Is the NTC (National Telecommunications Commission) aware of this? And if they are aware, why is it that they consented in airing the programs?" he asked during the joint committee hearing on ABS-CBN's application for a new operating franchise.
NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba informed congressmen of an executive order by former President Corazon Aquino that removed the franchise requirement for cable TV operators.
Executive Order No. 205, issued on June 30, 1987, opened the country's cable antenna television system to all Filipino citizens or "corporations, cooperatives or associations wholly-owned and managed by such citizens" based on a certificate of authority from the NTC.
As a result, cable TV operators no longer presented legislative franchises when filing applications at the NTC, said Cordoba.
"Lumalabas po sa EO ay parang tinanggal po ng EO ang requirement ng prangkisa para po sa mga cable TV operators," he said.
(It appears that the EO removed the requirement of franchise for cable TV operators.)
Rep. Jose Antonio Sy-Alvarado, chairman of the committee on good government, raised the idea of "regaining" the congressional power over broadcast franchises for cable TV operators.
Under EO 205, a certificate of authority from the NTC was good for 15 years and could be renewed.