Hontiveros urges NTC to uphold right to info after new CDO vs. ABS-CBN

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 01 2020 03:46 PM | Updated as of Jul 01 2020 05:05 PM

MANILA - Sen. Risa Hontiveros on Wednesday said the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) should "reconsider" the alias cease and desist order (CDO) it issued against ABS-CBN and its sister company, saying the public's right to information is vital during the pandemic.

After mandating ABS-CBN to shut down its broadcast operations last May 5, the NTC on Tuesday served 2 new CDOs against SKY Direct and TV Plus.

"Because we are in a crisis and because access to information is crucial, NTC should reconsider the said cease-and-desist order," Hontiveros said in a statement.

"Sa panahon ng pandemiya, nililimitahan pa natin lalo ang access ng publiko sa mahahalagang mga impormasyon. Mas dinadagdagan din lalo natin ang mga Pilipinong mawawalan ng trabaho," she said.

(In the time of pandemic, we are further limiting the access of the public to relevant information. We are also increasing the number of unemployed Filipinos.)

In a statement yesterday, Sky Cable Corp said 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 that it carries that bring them news, information, education, and entertainment.

The other CDO ordered ABS-CBN 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.

ABS-CBN President and CEO Carlo Katigbak told lawmakers last Monday that its TVPlus and Sky services reach 11 million homes or some 55 million people, which is about half of the country's population.

Opposition Sen. Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan said the Supreme Court should stop the NTC's actions against ABS-CBN, which several lawmakers described as a "double standard."

Over the decades, the NTC has allowed media companies with expired franchises to continue operating while their application for new franchise is being tackled by Congress.

"We hope the Supreme Court steps on the brakes on this madness," Pangilinan told reporters in a text message.

"Ang mga ganid sa kapangyarihan walang hangganan liban na lang kung tutulan at pigilan ng ating mga korte o di kaya ng taumbayan sa pamamagitan ng mariing pagtutol at pagkondena," he said.

(Those who are power greedy have no limits, unless they are stopped by the court or by the public through strong opposition and condemnation.)

ABS-CBN has filed a temporary restraining order against the NTC's May 5 order, which the Supreme Court has yet to resolve.