Solon hits Amcara Broadcasting over blocktime deal with ABS-CBN


Posted at Jul 02 2020 05:27 PM | Updated as of Jul 03 2020 02:08 AM

MANILA (UPDATE) - An administration congressman on Thursday went after a broadcasting company, Amcara, accusing it of committing "fraud" for allowing the shuttered media and entertainment company ABS-CBN Corp. to air programs using its frequency.

The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) traced the signal of Amcara Broadcasting Network Inc.'s Channel 43 to ABS-CBN's tower on Mother Ignacia Street, Quezon City, Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba told a joint congressional committee hearing on the network's franchise.

Amcara was granted a franchise in July 1995 which will expire in November 2020. 

"May element ng fraud against the legislative power of Congress," Cavite Rep. Jesus Crispin Remulla alleged.

"We have already elicited facts necessary to show na itong Amcara, isang moro-moro... malinaw na na the dummy relationship between ABS-CBN and Amcara is existing without any iota of doubt."

Asked about the NTC's findings on Channel 43's signal, Amcara chairman Rodrigo Carandang explained that such was the case because it was ABS-CBN that had purchased the transmitter for its test broadcast on the channel prior to 2019.

The 2 companies later executed a deed of assignment for ABS-CBN's digital TV transmitters. But Carandang said the agreement has yet to be submitted to the NTC for approval. 

In a previous hearing, ABS-CBN president and CEO Carlo Katigbak said that Amcara's Channel 43 was not listed in the May 5 cease-and-desist order by the NTC against ABS-CBN. 

ABS-CBN also has an annual blocktime agreement with Amcara, which is why the company was able to use Channel 43 to air Kapamilya shows for digital broadcast on TVPlus. 

On Thursday, representatives of ABS-CBN, which divested its 49-percent stake in Amcara on Jan. 24, 2019, told congressmen that there was nothing wrong with its blocktime agreement with the company, a common practice in the Philippine broadcast industry.

The NTC earlier shut down ABS-CBN's free TV and radio operations after its original 25-year franchise was left to expire last May 4 despite a long-pending renewal application at the House of Representatives.

The blocktime agreement later allowed ABS-CBN to resume broadcast of some its programs on Amcara's Channel 43 through ABS-CBN's TVplus digital box receivers.

But last Tuesday, the NTC also shut down the Channel 43 broadcast, along with SKY Cable's direct-to-home satellite transmission, after getting legal advice from the Solicitor General that these were covered by NTC's original cease-and-desist order against ABS-CBN. 

Lawyer Antonio Veloso of Amcara Broadcasting Corp. also told lawmakers on Thursday that blocktime is allowed by the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP), and that there are rules governing this practice in the industry.