NTC: ABS-CBN to cease Channel 43, TV Plus operations before day ends
File photo shows employees and supporters lighting candles at the gate as the ABS-CBN Corporation office in Quezon City shines the network's colors.
The STAR/Miguel de Guzman
NTC: ABS-CBN to cease Channel 43, TV Plus operations before day ends
(Philstar.com) - June 29, 2020 - 3:19pm

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 7:40 p.m.) — ABS-CBN's TV Plus services should have been ceased along with its other operations when it went off the air with the expiration of its legislative franchise and will be halted by Monday's end by the National Telecommunications Commission, commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba said Monday. 

At the House committee on legislative franchises hearing on ABS-CBN's franchise renewal on Monday, Cordoba said that the broadcast giant was using the franchise of AMCARA Broadcasting Network for its Channel 43 operations. 

"All broadcast operations of ABS-CBN are only authorized through its expired franchise...In other words, ABS-CBN's airing of digital TV on Channel 43 is part of the cease and desist order because the franchise that they used for that is ABS-CBN's franchise," he said.

Rep. Boying Remulla (Cavite 7th District), who sits as Senior Deputy Majority Leader and who earlier asked if ABS-CBN chairman emeritus Gabby Lobez was "100% Filipino or 100% American or 50% Filipino or 50% American," went as far as saying that the broadcast giant's operation for the past eight weeks was illegal and usufructuary. 

He added that allowing ABS-CBN to operate post-May 4 with an expired franchise warranted grounds to file charges against Cordoba.

"[Provisional authority] was predicated on the effectivity of the franchise of the corporation...Cordoba should resign because he is not doing his job," Rep. Rodante Marcoleta (Sagip Party-list) said.

Rep. Mike Defensor (Anakalusugan Party-list) added: "The law is the law and we have to obey that. Today, the continuing use of that frequency should stop."

'Due process in the spirit of fairness'

Lopez's citizenship, along with a litany of recycled issues, had already been addressed by government agencies—including the labor department, the Bureau of Internal Revenue, and the Securities and Exchange Commission—at an earlier Senate hearing.

READ: Allegations against ABS-CBN recycled anew at House hearing | ABS-CBN abides by tax, labor and corporate laws — gov't

For his part, ABS-CBN Corp. CEO Carlo Katigbak said that the company was willing to submit to the judgment of the regulatory agency but appealed for due process and asked the committees to allow broadcast while the franchise is pending for renewal.

"In the past, the NTC has permitted other companies whose franchises have expired and were currently being deliberated to continue with their operations until such time as either the application is approved or denied. We would like permission to ask for the same privilege to be extended to ABS-CBN in the spirit of fairness," he said. 

"The cease and desist order does not cover Channel 43. It's not on the list... A block-time arrangement is a standard commercial agreement that is quite common in the broadcast industry. Many other broadcasters do this as well," he added. 

At an earlier hearing, Katigbak said that the sale of the TVplus boxes was "in compliance with the directive of NTC to migrate our broadcast to digital.” 

A cursory glance at the cease and desist order shows that Channel 43 is not among the operations the corporation was directed to cease and desist operations of.

Cable association supports bid for franchise

Later in the hearing, the Philippine Cable and Telecommunications Association (PCTA), the country's largest cable group, expressed support for the broadcast giant's bid for a franchise renewal, saying that services like TVplus allowed for clearer signals.  

According to PCTA president Ralph Casiño, multiple channels on a single frequency affords consumers “the power of choice.”

“In the old technology, each frequency could only deliver a single channel. With digital compression, broadcasters are able to provide four or more channels. This empowers televiewers and consumers to have more options and program choices,” he said.

This sentiment was echoed by Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas president Jun Nicdao, who also asserted that blocktime agreements have long been a staple industry practice, pointing out that there is even an organization called Independent Block Timers Association of the Philippines. 

“Blocktimers do not need a franchise to buy airtime from a broadcasting station,” he said.

According to Nicdao, blocktime involves only the sale of airtime, but the control of the station still rests with the owner or the franchise of the station.

“Between TVplus and SKY, there are about 11 million homes that have access to our service. If we cut that off, that's almost 55 million people that will lose access to their entertainment, their news and information,” Katigbak said. — Franco Luna 

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: October 6, 2020 - 2:27pm

ABS-CBN Corp. stopped broadcasting on its TV and radio stations on May 5, 2020 after the National Telecommunications Commission issued a cease and desist order. The network's franchise had lapsed on May 4 without action by the House of Representatives.

October 6, 2020 - 2:27pm

Broadcast giant ABS-CBN Corp. is returning to free TV starting Saturday after striking a deal with Zoe Broadcasting Network Inc. 

The network announces that "some entertainment shows and movies" it produces will be aired in the "rebranded" A2Z channel 11, formerly Zoe TV, the free TV channel of Jesus Is Lord Church led and founded by Eddie Villanueva.

"A2Z channel 11 will be seen on analog TV in Metro Manila and nearby provinces," the network says.

September 24, 2020 - 11:13am

Eugenio "Gabby" Lopez III tenders his resignation as chairman emeritus and director of ABS-CBN Corporation due to personal reasons.

Lopez also steps down as director of ABS-CBN Holdings Corporation, Sky Vision Corporation, Sky Cable Corporation, First Philippine Holdings Corporation, First Gen Corporation and Rockwell Land Corporation.

"He expressed his appreciation for the trust of the stockholders as well as to his co-directors and senior management for the privilege of having served with them over the years," ABS CBN Head of Corporate Communications Kane Errol Choa says in a statement.

September 12, 2020 - 11:56am

A group of teachers denounces anew the shutting down of ABS-CBN network, with its education platform—Knowledge Channel—just like what ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr. did 48 years ago.

"In the spirit of upholding press freedom and the people's right to information, and the media's burgeoning role in education amid the pandemic, ACT supports the Knowledge Channel Foundation Inc. in its bid to extend its services and resources to the Department of Education as the public education system shifts to remote learning in response to the pandemic," says the Alliance of Concerned Teachers Philippines in a statement.

September 10, 2020 - 4:35pm

The National Telecommunications Commission recalls the frequencies assigned to broadcast giant ABS-CBN following the non-renewal of its legislative franchise.

In its decision released Thursday, the NTC points out that ABS-CBN does not have a valid franchise to continue operating television and radio broadcasting stations nationwide.

"Indubitably, the denial of Respondent's franchise renewal application in Congress, coupled with the denial of Respondent's Petition by the Supreme Court, lead to no other conclusion except that Respondent had already lost the privilege of installing, operating, and maintaining radio broadcasting stations in the country," the NTC says.

August 30, 2020 - 2:27pm

Broadcast journalist Ted Failon is leaving ABS-CBN after 30 years, the network says Sunday, adding his final appearances on "TV Patrol" and "Failon Ngayon sa TeleRadyo" will be on August 31.

"The closure of ABS-CBN's radio broadcast operations led to his painful decision and we respect it. We admire Ted's talent, passion, and commitment to radio as his most effective medium in serving the Filipino people," the network also says.

Last Friday, 12 regional "TV Patrol" programs went off the air also due to a House panel's decision in July to junk ABS-CBN's application for a new franchise.

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