Philippines | NTC orders ABS-CBN to stop broadcasting
NTC orders ABS-CBN to stop broadcasting
MANILA (UPDATE) – The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has ordered ABS-CBN to “cease and desist” from broadcasting on television and radio, one day after the company’s 25-year operating franchise expired.
In a Cease-and-Desist Order (CDO) dated May 5, the agency said the network must stop its broadcast operations “due to the expiration of its congressional franchise” on May 4.
It said the network should “stop operating its various TV and radio broadcasting stations nationwide ‘absent a valid Congressional Franchise as required by law’.”
The NTC gave the network 10 days from receipt of the order “to respond as to why the frequencies assigned to it should not be recalled.”
It cited the Radio Control Law in ordering the network to halt broadcast operations.
“Upon the expiration of RA 7966, ABS-CBN no longer has a valid and subsisting congressional franchise as required by Act No. 3846,” it said.
“The NTC Regional Offices shall implement the closure order in their respective areas of jurisdiction. After receipt of ABS-CBN’s response, the NTC shall schedule the case for hearing at the earliest time after the Enhanced Community Quarantine is lifted by the Government,” it said.
The NTC is tasked with regulating and supervising radio and television broadcast stations.
The NTC order comes despite steps taken by Congress leaders to show that they favor a renewal of ABS-CBN’s broadcast franchise. Lawmakers have maintained they have the sole power to act on franchises such as that of ABS-CBN.
Earlier this year, the Senate adopted a resolution expressing the chamber’s view that ABS-CBN Corporation and its subsidiaries should be allowed to operate while awaiting Congress action on its franchise renewal application.
The resolution was turned over to NTC officials who said they were ready to issue a provisional authority for ABS-CBN.
At the House of Representatives where the measure on ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal must emanate, lawmakers also said they saw no reason to shut down the network because the franchise application was already being discussed by the House Committee on Legislative Franchises.
The committee chaired by Palawan Rep. Franz Alvarez held a meeting in early March to kick off deliberations on the ABS-CBN franchise bills. It also sent a letter to the NTC asking that a provisional authority be issued to ABS-CBN pending renewal of the network’s franchise.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra was also of the opinion that ABS-CBN may continue broadcasting despite an expired franchise, on the strength of a provisional authority issued by the NTC.
However, Solicitor-General Jose Calida who had filed quo warranto petition questioning the validity of the ABS-CBN franchise was of a different mind. On Sunday, the eve of the expiration of the previous franchise, Calida warned NTC against issuing a provisional authority to ABS-CBN, saying Congress alone may decide on the fate of the network.
Sought for comment, Guevarra cited how the DOJ had given the NTC an advice “in accordance with law and equity” and that Congress had “expressed essentially the same view as that of the DOJ and further enjoined the NTC to issue a provisional authority to ABS-CBN.”
“The NTC issued a cease-and-desist order instead. it must have a very good reason for doing so. Let’s wait for its explanation,” he said.
NEXT MOVE UP TO HOUSE
Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go, meanwhile, said the matter of allowing ABS-CBN to continue operations after the NTC order is “now with the House of Representatives.”
“There is a bill seeking to renew the franchise of the media corporation now pending before the Lower House. Now that session has already resumed, I am urging the House of Representatives to act on this matter with due haste,” said Go in a statement.
“Upon reaching the Senate and once we have had a chance to conduct our own hearings on the matter, that is when I will decide and vote according to my conscience and the interest of the Filipino people,” he said.
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PhilStar | DOJ: Cease and desist order vs ABS-CBN ‘immediately executory’ but can be reviewed
MANILA, Philippines — The cease and desist order from the National Telecommunications Commission against broadcast company ABS-CBN issued Tuesday is immediately executory but can be subjected to judicial review, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said.
Guevarra said the order “is immediately executory” but can be elevated for judicial review to either the regional trial court or the Court of Appeals.
“The NTC will have to enforce it if ABS-CBN will not voluntarily comply,” he added.
By issuing the order, NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba walked back from an earlier statement that they would heed the Department of Justice’s advice that broadcast companies may continue to operate past franchise expiry, on a provisional license, pending congressional action on renewal bills.
The House Committee on Legislative Franchises in February urged the NTC to grant provisional authority to the network until it “has made a decision on its application.”
The Senate also passed a resolution calling on the NTC to issue a provisional authority to ABS-CBN.
Solicitor General Jose Calida on Sunday warned the NTC that officials may face graft charges if ABS-CBN is allowed to operate past May 4.
Calida has also sought to revoke ABS-CBN’s franchise before the Supreme Court, citing supposed franchise violations, which the network has denied.
Guevarra noted that the DOJ’s advice to the NTC was in “accordance with law and equity,” and was echoed by the House panel in its letter to the commission.
“The NTC issued a cease-and-desist order instead. It must have a very good reason for doing so. Let’s wait for its explanation,” he added.
The NTC order comes as the Philippines and the rest of the world grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic that has infected millions and killed thousands globally.
Alvarez warns NTC of contempt if it withholds ABS-CBN provisional permit
MANILA – The chairperson of the House legislative franchises committee on Tuesday warned the National Telecommunications Commission that it would be summoned to explain why it should not be held in contempt should it renege on its commitment to grant ABS-CBN a provisional authority to continue operations.
The Solicitor General’s “pressure” for the NTC not to issue the network provisional permit to operate “directly challenges” Congress’ exclusive authority over broadcast franchises, according to Palawan 1st District Rep. Franz Alvarez.
“If the NTC chooses to succumb to the pressure of the Solicitor General, and disregard the commitments they gave under oath, we reserve the right to call them before Congress and explain why they should not be held in contempt,” Alvarez said in a statement.
“We have recently been made aware of efforts by the Solicitor General to pressure the (NTC) to go against the ruling of the Department of Justice, which states that ABS-CBN may continue to broadcast while Congress deliberates on the renewal of its franchise.”
“We would like to make it clear that Congress takes this matter very seriously…,” Alvarez said.
The Solicitor General, according to Alvarez, “should have the decency to give Congress this courtesy to complete the exercise of its power,” noting that his committee already began deliberations on the broadcast company’s application for franchise renewal before adjourning in March.
He said that enjoining NTC to allow ABS-CBN to operate until Congress finally decides on its franchise application is necessary to give lawmakers “sufficient time” to assess.
The committee would not be “dictated upon” by any agency on the “manner, schedule, and conduct of it’s official business,” he said.
In March, the NTC said it would issue a provisional authority to allow ABS-CBN and its subsidiaries to operate until June 2022, while Congress deliberates on the network’s franchise renewal bid.
“The power of Congress to legislate is complete, full, and plenary. A legislative franchise is a law and by deciding whether to grant or deny a franchise, it is passing a law and making policy,” Alvarez reiterated.
“With the legal opinion of the Department of Justice and the authority given by the House of Representatives, there is no reason for ABS-CBN to discontinue or stop their operations until we make a final decision.”
ABS-CBN’s franchise expired Monday, May 4.
The NTC earlier issued a memorandum allowing the automatic renewal of expiring permits of broadcast and pay TV facilities during the enhanced community quarantine.
The Luzon lockdown ended on April 30 but the measure was extended in Metro Manila until May 15 to contain the spread of COVID-19.
News.abs-cbn.com is the official news website of ABS-CBN Corp.
Several senators condemn NTC for stopping ABS-CBN broadcast ops
MANILA – Several senators on Tuesday condemned the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) for stopping broadcast operations of ABS-CBN Corp., months after it assured Congress that a provisional authority to operate would be given to the Philippines’ largest media network.
NTC’s order was issued a day after the broadcast giant’s 25-year franchise expired, but the agency earlier said that all franchises that expired during the Luzon community quarantine are deemed extended 60 days after the lockdown is lifted.
“This act of NTC… is totally contrary to law and is a grave abuse of discretion,” Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said during the Senate’s hybrid session.
“First, there is enough precedent… that provisional authority can be issued while the application for renewal is pending,” he said.
Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri echoed Drilon, saying several media companies have been operating using provisional authority while their licenses to operate are still pending in Congress.
“What I find highly irregular is that I know for a fact that there are many stations operating on provisional authority… We can cite many instances when the NTC granted provisional authority for those still applying for their franchises,” he said.
“ABS-CBN can ask for a temporary restraining order or TRO presenting the fact that the NTC has given this (provisional authority) to past and present corporations,” he said.
NTC issued the order after Solicitor General Jose Calida warned the agency against issuing a temporary permit to operate for ABS-CBN.
Calida has asked the Supreme Court to invalidate ABS-CBN’s franchise for its alleged Constitutional violations, but the high court has yet tot rule on the matter.
Sen. Sonny Angara, meanwhile, expressed his “reservations” about the order “because at the time of the virus, people need to be informed.”
More details to follow.
ABS-CBN’s statement on the National Telecommunications Commission’s order to stop the broadcast company’s TV and radio operations nationwide.
House panel chair: Calida can’t dictate on how to handle ABS-CBN franchise
MANILA, Philippines – A House leader slammed Solicitor General Jose Calida for allegedly overstepping on Congress’ powers by warning the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) against issuing a temporary permit to operate to media network ABS-CBN.
On Tuesday, May 5, House committee on legislative franchises chairman Franz Alvarez said Calida’s warning to the NTC “directly challenges” the lower chamber’s constitutional authority to decide on broadcast franchises.
Alvarez and Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano earlier wrote a letter “enjoining” the NTC to grant provisional authority to ABS-CBN Corporation and its subsidiaries so the network may continue operating pending the renewal of its franchise, which already expired on Monday, May 4.
“We would like to make it clear that Congress takes this matter very seriously, as it directly challenges our exclusive constitutional authority to grant, deny, extend, revoke, or modify broadcast franchises. [This is] including having the primary jurisdiction to make an initial determination whether an application for a legislative franchise should be granted or denied,” Alvarez said in a statement.
“Having already begun the deliberations on ABS-CBN’s application for renewal of its franchise before Congress adjourned in March, the committee on legislative franchises will not be dictated upon by any individual or agency as to the manner, schedule, and conduct of its official business,” he added.
Which ABS-CBN businesses can still operate after NTC’s cease and desist order?
MANILA – Despite the order from National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) for ABS-CBN Corp to stop its broadcast operations, the company’s other units and subsidiaries can continue operating because they don’t need a congressional franchise.
ABS-CBN’s online assets like its news, entertainment and sports websites can continue to deliver content.
ABS-CBN’s video streaming service and app, iWant, can also continue to deliver content to internet users.
The service streams the networks’ most popular shows like FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano, Maalaala Mo Kaya, TV Patrol, Bandila, as well as select shows of ANC and ABS-CBN Sports + Action.
Many of iWant’s content are free. iWant has already over 10 million downloads on Google’s Play Store and Apple’s App Store. It can also be accessed through the iwant.tv website.
ANC, or the ABS-CBN News Channel, can also continue broadcasting as the NTC order does not cover cable news channels.
“ANC is content eh. Hindi kasama ang content,” said NTC Deputy Commissioner Edgardo Cabarios in an interview with DZMM on Tuesday.
Star Cinema will also be unaffected by the NTC’s cease and desist order.
ABS-CBN also posts content on its official YouTube channels and Facebook accounts.
On YouTube, the ABS-CBN Entertainment channel has over 27 million subscribers, while ABS-CBN News has over 9 million subscribers.
On Facebook, ABS-CBN has over 23 million followers, while ABS-CBN News has over 19 million followers.
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