Cable TV industry next?
STAR CIRCUIT - Ricky Calderon (The Freeman) - July 28, 2020 - 12:00am

While the entertainment industry has not recovered from the shock wave brought about by the shutdown of ABS-CBN, the cable TV industry seems to be the next target of some lawmakers based on their Zoom exchange last weekend.

If the lawmakers succeed in stopping the operations of SKYcable on the ground that its franchise has expired, then the whole cable industry will be affected as the National Telecommunications Commission allowed them to operate on the basis of Executive Order 205 issued by the Aquino administration.

For many years, no lawmaker questioned the legality of the EO 205 until the ABS-CBN franchise renewal hearings.

Last weekend, social media was abuzz with netizens up in arms protesting what seems to them as a sinister plan by the government in stopping SKYcable as Rep. Rodante Marcoleta has been urging the NTC to do so.

Marcoleta revealed that the NTC commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba is already consulting Solicitor General Jose Calida on the legal strategy to pin down SKYcable upon the questioning of certain lawmakers at the House hearings on why Sky was operating without a franchise.

Cordoba has been quoted in media reports explaining that cable TV operators do not need any franchise because of EO 205.

It remains to be seen if the NTC will be able to defend their position.

But this is a concern already for the industry players, who express concern over the possible change in the application of the law.

Philippine Cable Telecommunications Association president Joel Dabao said in a TV interview, “Pag may nangyari sa SKYcable malamang mangyayari na rin sa aming lahat. At yung kawawang subscriber namin na kinabitan namin ng internet na wala ng ibang choice kundi sa amin at kung walang mapapanood na channel kundi galing sa amin ay mawawalan ng balita at edukasyon sa panahon ngayon na napaka kailangan po.”

There are over 300 cable TV operators in the country and imagine if the government strikes down EO 205, consumers who rely on cable TV for news and entertainment will wake up one day with blank screens.

It is bad enough that consumers lost a choice for their TV fare when ABS-CBN was shut down.  Worse, its channels on TVplus were also affected.  And now, viewers can only watch their favorite Kapamilya programs on cable and satellite TV, iWant, Facebook, and YouTube.

No wonder there was a backlash against the lawmakers on social media. The people felt that certain groups had gone overboard in putting down ABS-CBN without thinking of the repercussions on its workers and consumers.

ABS-CBN could have been instrumental in these pandemic times. Aside from providing news and information, ABS-CBN has Knowledge Channel on TVplus -- which is also available on Skycable -- that uses curriculum-based programs for teachers and students.  It would have been a fit for the government’s distance learning program.

***

Filipinos felt so much loss from the denial of ABS-CBN’s franchise by 70 lawmakers, whose votes do not reflect the 76 percent of Filipino adults who believe that ABS-CBN deserves a franchise.

No wonder Angel Locsin strongly spoke out last week challenging other Kapamilya artists to speak out as the people responsible for their shows and rise in popularity have lost their jobs.  It was a wake-up call considering that some Kapuso artists and journalists have expressed their support for their colleagues.

Sarah Geronimo then spoke and posted on social media, “Mahal ko po ang aking ABS-CBN family. Mahalaga po sa akin ang bawat empleyado na labis na nagdadalamhati ngayon dahil sa kawalan ng trabaho.  Nakikiisa po ako sa kanilang apila na muling makabalik sa trabaho upang patuloy na makapagbigay serbisyo para sa kani-kanilang mga pamilya at para sa bansa.”

Jessy Mendiola defended Luis Manzano against netizens, who questioned his silence. The actress revealed that Luis has been busy on the phone helping organize a job fair for all ABS-CBN workers who lost their jobs.

It’s heartwarming to know that the bayanihan spirit is alive in times of crisis.  These challenges has also united the whole ABS-CBN family. I hope and pray that they will weather these trials and return soon on air.

It’s time to listen to the voice of the people, not just those who claim to represent them.

ABS-CBN
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