KBP defies NTC blocktime order, says it ‘prevents democratization’ of media

Raffy Cabristante, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 29 2022 11:00 PM

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MANILA — The Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) on Wednesday said that it will not be following the National Telecommunications Commission's (NTC) order restricting blocktime agreements, calling it "invalid" and "unconstitutional." 

"Iyong [order] was supposed to be presented for consultation July 11, pero nauna nga iyong pagka-release. Be that as it may, ang position namin, hangga't di napag-uusapan sa public hearing, hindi pa valid ang [order] na iyan," KBP spokesperson Rejie Jularbal told ABS-CBN TeleRadyo.

(The order was supposed to be presented for consultation July 11, but the release came first. Be that as it may, our position is that as long as the order is not being discussed in a public hearing, we consider it invalid.)

Jularbal said that even if the public consultation takes place, the KBP will still consider the order invalid as it encourages "prior restraint" among broadcasting companies.

The NTC, he added, has no authority to issue such orders, as it only covers "technical matters pertaining to broadcast," such as airwaves, frequency allocation, and power limitation, among others.

"Iyong limitation on blocktime or content provision runs counter to the principle of preventing monopoly in media ... Ang batas nagsasabi democratized dapat ang media. And here, you're preventing democratization," Jularbal said.

(Limiting blocktime or content provision runs counter to the principle of preventing monopoly in media. The law says that the media should be democratized, and here, you're preventing democratization.)

For now, Jularbal said, KBP member stations will still continue with their existing blocktime agreements, as there is nothing illegal in these contracts.

The NTC earlier issued an order mandating broadcast stations to restrict airtime devoted to blocktimers to 50 percent.

Blocktimers are persons or organizations that buy or lease airtime from stations to broadcast air their content and programs.

KBP president Herman Basbaño said he was surprised by the NTC memo, saying that the organization will oppose it. 

The KBP said it was concerned over NTC's apparent overreaching to restrict the programming of broadcast stations.

"Alam natin na may issue ito ng constitutionality, prior restraint at of course freedom to express oneself, freedom of the press," he said.

(We know that this is an issue of consitutionality, prior restraint, and of course, freedom to express oneself, freedom of the press.)

— With report from Johnson Manabat, ABS-CBN News