NTC orders ABS-CBN to stop TVPlus in Metro Manila, SKY Direct

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 30 2020 05:33 PM | Updated as of Jun 30 2020 09:20 PM

ABS-CBN Broadcasting Center in Quezon City in this photo taken on May 8, 2020. Gigie Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Sky says 1.5 million subscribers affected starting Tuesday night

MANILA (3rd UPDATE) - The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) on Tuesday served 2 cease-and-desist orders stopping ABS-CBN’s digital broadcast on TVPlus in Metro Manila and SKY’s satellite broadcast nationwide.

ABS-CBN was ordered to stop operating its digital TV transmission in Metro Manila using Channel 43 (644-650 mhz), which would affect programs shown on its TVPlus channels Cine MO!, Yey!, TeleRadyo, Jeepney TV, Asianovela Channel, and its pay-per-view channel KBO.

The NTC said this was included in the list of radio and TV stations it had ordered to cease and desist from operating in its May 5 cease- and-desist order (CDO) against ABS-CBN.

ABS-CBN's broadcast franchise expired on May 4 after which the company shut down its free TV and radio operations. It later resumed some shows on TVPlus via blocktime using Amcara Broadcasting Corp's Channel 43.

In a statement on NTC's alias CDO, ABS-CBN said it received the order to stop operating digital TV transmission using Channel 43 at 2:26 p.m.

"While channel 43 is not mentioned in NTC’s cease and desist order (CDO) of May 5, 2020, and it is ABS-CBN’s informed understanding that channel 43 is not included in the CDO, digital TV transmission in Metro Manila using channel 43 will cease tonight (June 30), consistent with the intent of the alias CDO," the company said.

"ABS-CBN has a pending petition with the Supreme Court questioning the NTC’s CDO and hopes that such petition will be resolved soon in its favor so that it can resume broadcasting on both analog and digital platforms in the service of the Filipino," it said.

SKY DIRECT TO STOP

In the other alias CDO, NTC ordered ABS-CBN's cable company, Sky Cable Corp., to "immediately cease and desist" its SKY direct-to-home satellite transmission, which would affect households with SKY Direct satellite dishes.

NTC said Sky Cable should "immediately cease and desist operating its Direct Broadcast Satellite Service" or DBS service using radio frequencies 14421-14457 MHz and 12673-12709MHz.

Sky Cable has a Transponder Lease Agreement with New Skies Satellites B.V. for the lease of satellite capacity to Sky Cable for the operation of its DBS service.

The NTC said it granted a provisional authority to Sky Cable Corp. to operate and maintain a DBS service from 2015 to 2021, but noted that Sky Cable Corp's franchise already expired on May 4.

Sky Cable Corp. was asked to "show cause why frequencies assigned to it shall not be recalled for lack of necessary congressional franchise to operate," and to "refund its subscribers amounts representing unconsumed prepaid loads, deposits on equipment and devices, deposit or advance payment for postpaid subscribers, charges collected from new applicants."

1.5 MILLION SUBSCRIBERS AFFECTED

In a statement on NTC's CDO issued to Sky Cable Corp., the company said Sky Direct's 1.5 million subscribers nationwide will no longer receive TV signals starting Tuesday night.
 
"SKY Direct’s 1.5 million subscribers nationwide, including those in remote areas that do not receive television signals, will be deprived of access to the channels we carry that bring them news, information, education, and entertainment starting tonight June 30, 2020, as Sky Cable Corporation complies with the cease and desist order (CDO) issued by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) stopping the company from operating its direct broadcast satellite service immediately," it said.
 
It also appealed to NTC, "in the spirit of fairness...to extend the same privilege given in the past to other companies whose franchises have expired but are currently pending in Congress to continue its operations until a resolution is passed."
 
Sky Cable assured its subscribers that "we will exhaust all legal remedies to resume our services."
 
"We commit to attend to the concerns of our valued subscribers and partners arising from this decision. We will refund all unconsumed prepaid loads and advance postpaid payments. We appeal to our SKY Direct subscribers and partners for understanding and patience as we undergo this process," the cable firm said.

Meanwhile, Sky Cable and Sky Fiber internet subscribers will not be affected by the CDO issued by the NTC.

"Hindi apektado ang SKYcable at SKY Fiber internet subscribers. Patuloy silang makatatanggap ng aming serbisyo," Sky Cable said.

(Subscribers of SKYcable and SKY Fiber internet are not affected. They will continue to enjoy our services.)
 
ABS-CBN President and CEO Carlo Katigbak on Monday's House hearing on the company's franchise application appealed for "fairness" from Congress, saying legislators in the past allowed other media companies to continue operations while their applications for a new franchise were pending.

"Ang appeal po namin sa Kongreso (our appeal to Congress) is in the spirit of fairness, please consider that you have allowed other companies to operate before even after their franchises had expired for so long as Congress continues to hear their application for renewal," Katigbak said.

In the same hearing, NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba told lawmakers that Solicitor General Jose Calida on Monday urged the commission to issue an alias CDO against ABS-CBN's digital broadcast on Channel 43, contending that this is covered by ABS-CBN's franchise that expired on May 4.

But Katigbak explained that the company has an annual blocktime agreement with Amcara Broadcasting Network, and that Amcara's Channel 43 was not part of the May 5 CDO.

However, he also said that ABS-CBN is "willing to submit our judgment to the regulatory agency."

"Ang hinihingi lang po namin (all we're asking for) is to make sure we are given due process so we have the right venue to express our position on this matter," he said. "Whatever decision NTC comes up with, we will respect."

Katigbak told lawmakers that its TVPlus and Sky services reach 11 million homes or some 55 million people, which is about half of the country's population.

TVPlus allows buyers to experience better television quality by moving away from analog signal. It includes a pay-per-view channel called Kapamilya Box Office (KBO).

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