TO ensure a more rational and orderly coverage of the midterm elections in 2019, the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) and the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) have formed an alliance to prevent, or minimize, the expected proliferation of illegitimate broadcast stations across the country.
Since there is an expected rise in spending for the 2019 election, the KBP expects these illegal stations to operate to get a share in the spending of the candidates for their political campaigns.
“This is year 2018 and there’s usually a proliferation of illegal broadcast stations leading to election day in May next year,” Erwin V. Galang, head of the technical committee and trustee of the KBP, said in a news statement issued on Wedneday.
“KBP is again teaming up with the NTC in ensuring that such illegal stations do not operate. We have filed several cases against illegal radio stations that we have managed to track down courtesy of our partnership with the NTC,” he added.
Once the NTC sends a cease-and- desist order, Galang noted, these radio stations will stop operations.
Under its mandate, the NTC initiates administrative cases with cease-and-desist and show-cause orders against illegal broadcast stations, which historically represent bulk of the administrative cases with the regulatory body.
Edgardo Cabarios, deputy commissioner of the NTC, cited the gains with their previous collaboration with the KBP has resulted in the closure of fly-by-night broadcast stations, mostly in the provinces, who had victimized unsuspecting candidates to buy airtime for their political advertisements. These illegal broadcasters usually disappear after they received payment for the political advertisements.
“Historically, we can see a steep increase in the number of cases in broadcast services in relation to unlicensed broadcasts leading to the election campaign period. What we do is we immediately issue cease-and-desist and show-cause orders against these illegal operators, forcing them to shut down their stations, while others simply disappear,” Cabarios explained.
Based on the 2017 report of the Commission on Audit (COA), there were 2,054 broadcast services division cases recorded by the NTC. Except for a few cases, the administrative complaints were initiated by the NTC itself motu propio for violations against erring radio stations.
Auditor Ma. Jocelyn Factora, COA’s 2017 resident auditor in the NTC, confirmed that almost all pending administrative cases represented cases filed by the NTC against illegal broadcast stations, and not cases from telco consumers. “The pending telco-related cases from consumers are very minimal.”
As of December 31, 2017, there are only 148 telco consumer cases pending before the NTC’s Legal Office, which are now subject of review and resolution.
“With our partnership with the KBP, we are optimistic that we can curb the proliferation of unlicensed broadcast stations which interfere with the broadcast of legitimate stations,” Cabarios said.