The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) on Monday shut down an FM radio station in Legazpi City, Albay, with the station's workers crying foul over the closure.
According to the NTC cease and desist order, Zagitsit FM was closed due to the expiration of its temporary broadcast permit, lack of studio to transmitter link radio station license, and alleged violations of some of its provisional authority.
But the radio station refuted these, saying there was politics involved behind its shutdown. Jun Alegre, owner and station manager of Zagitsit FM, said they earlier filed a motion for a 15-day extension and it was approved.
But the radio station's workers were shocked after they were shut down before the extension even ended.
Alegre said Zagitsit, which has been operating for 6 years, gets annual inspections but it has never been reprimanded or cited for violations.
"Nitong nakaraang ilang buwan, nagtaka ako, ininspeksyon ang Zagitzit FM, na-single out kami and nagduda na ako na may malaking tao sa likod nito," said Alegre, adding other stations have been warned for violations but were never shut down.
“Sana yan ang tingnan ng NTC kung honest to goodness ang kanilang paglinis kasi maraming istasyon dito na 5 years na ang kanilang lisensya na expired, hindi na ito labanan sa legal battle. May isang pulitiko na nagsabi sa akin na ang problema ng Zagitsit, pulitika. Kung kaya nga gawin sa ABS-CBN, anong dahilan na di kayang gawin sa maliliit na network. Ngayon, Zagitzit FM, sino naman kaya ang mga susunod na araw," he said.
According to NTC Bicol, its central office ordered the inspection of Zagitsit FM.
“Itong order na-receive namin kaninang umaga na the respondent is directed to immediately cease from further operating its FM station, DWH1 FM using 100.3 megahertz," Bicol OIC regional director Samuel Sabile said.
Media practitioners in Albay are worried, saying the shutdown of Zagitsit FM was a "worrisome message to the media."
"The ordinary term is chilling effect. Ang kalaban na ng media is influential, powerful and moneyed individual or groups, media should look out and find avenues para ma-preserve ang industry kasi kung di ma-preserve ang press freedom will collapse," said Mar Arguelles, a journalist in the province.
More than 25 employees are affected by Zagitsit FM's closure. The radio station said its online live streaming will continue, but noted audience will be limited due to the need to access the internet.
— Report from Aireen Perol
news.abs-cbn.com is the official news website of ABS-CBN Corp.