The National Telecommunication Commission (NTC) on Monday said it will issue an alias cease and desist order (CDO) against ABS-CBN Corp. to stop the operations of its digital service under TV Plus.
During the continuation of the hearing on the ABS-CBN franchise, NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba said the continued operations of ABS-CBN’s TV Plus is a violation of the CDO issued against the TV network.
He said the alias CDO will be issued within Monday.
Cordoba, citing the Office of the Solicitor General, said the NTC is authorized to issue an alias cease and desist order against ABS-CBN’s digital service.
According to Cordoba, ABS-CBN’s TV Plus should also have stopped when it went off the air following the expiration of its legislative franchise last May 4.
“They [ABS-CBN] should not be doing that because ABS-CBN’s franchise has already expired. At the airing of programs through digital broadcast is also wrong. That is a violation of the CDO that we issued,” Cordoba said.
“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.”
ABS-CBN President and CEO Carlo Katigbak said, however, that the company is using the franchise of AMCARA Broadcasting Network for its Channel 43 operations through a block time arrangement.
“The reason we continue to see our channels on TV plus is we have a block time arrangement with Amcara [Channel 43]. A block time arrangement is a standard commercial arrangement where a company is allowed to buy airtime from a duly licensed broadcaster,” Katigbak said.
In the past, he said the NTC has permitted other broadcast companies—whose franchises have expired but their application for a renewal is pending in Congress—to continue their operations until such time that the franchise application is either approved or denied.
“We would like permission to ask for the same privilege to be extended to ABS-CBN in the spirit of fairness,” Katigbak said.
“Of course, we are willing to submit our judgment to the regulatory agency. And then whatever decision the NTC comes up with, we will respect the regulatory agency.”
“Between TV Plus and Sky, there are about 11 million homes that have access to our service. ‘Pag pinutulan po natin ’yan [if it is cut off], that’s about 55 million people that will lose access to news and information.”
Anakalusugan Party-list Rep. Mike Defensor said allowing the continued operation of TV Plus will usurp and infringe on the powers of Congress to grant or deny broadcast franchises.
“It is a violation of our constitutional mandate that we are the only ones [with the power] to grant franchises,” Defensor said.
Deputy Majority Leader Boying Remulla said TV Plus should have ceased operations because the legislative franchise granted by Congress to the network already expired.
Remulla also hits ABS-CBN, saying the block time arrangement with Amcara is an alibi to skirt franchise rules.
With this, Remulla said they have a “ripe case” against Cordoba before the Office of Ombudsman for “willfully disobeying the power of Congress to issue franchises and allowing an entity to operate without a franchise and earn money at the same time.”
Sagip Rep. Rodante Marcoleta also said the NTC chief should resign “because he is not doing his job.”