ABS-CBN goes off the air
MANILA, Philippines — Hundreds and thousands of Filipinos expect primetime dramas to grace their television screens after TV Patrol, ABS-CBN’s nightly newscast.
But tonight, it was nothing but a grey static screen.
It was evident that TV Patrol anchors—veteran journalists Ted Failon, Noli De Castro, and Bernadette Sembrano-Aguinaldo—were holding back their emotions as they were closing the nightly newscast.
“Kapamilya, ‘yan po ang mga balitang nakalap sa aming mas malawak na pagpapatrol. Hihinto po ng ABS-CBN, DZMM, MOR, at lahat po ng TV at radio stations nito sa buong Pilipinas ang pag-broadcast pagkatapos ng aming programa,” Failon said.
“Kinakailangan lamang po naming istasyon ng sapat na panahon upang maisaayos ang pag-shutdown sa aming mga kagamitan at maabisuhan din po ang aming mga taga-panuod at mga kapamilya,” he added.
De Castro, meanwhile, said the broadcast company would not be silenced by the attack on press freedom.
“Bayan, mga kapamilya, ilan dekada rin tayong nagkasama. Utang na loob namin sa inyo na tinanggap ninyo kami sa inyong mga tahanan gabi-gabi. Naging malaking bahagi na kami ng inyong buhay, karamay sa mga panahon ng kalamidad at paghihirap,” De Castro said.
“Hindi man na-renew ang aning prangkisa at pinatitigil ang ating broadcast, nangangako kami sa inyo, hindi kami mananahimik sa pag-atakeng ito sa ating demokrasya at sa malayang pamamahayag. Sa pinakamalaking dagok at hamon sa aming kompanya, at sa aming hanapbuhay, hinding-hindi namin kayo tatalikuran, kabayan,” he added.
This came after the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) ordered ABS-CBN to stop broadcast operations following the media giant’s franchise expiration on May 4.
In an Order dated May 5, the NTC directed ABS-CBN to stop operating its television and radio broadcasting stations nationwide “absent a valid Congressional Franchise required by law.”
NTC cited Republic Act No. 3846 or the Radio Control Law which states that “no person, firm, company, association, or corporation shall construct, install, establish, or operate a radio transmitting station, or radio receiving station used for commercial purposes, or a radio broadcasting station, without having first obtained a franchise therefor from the Congress of the Philippines.”
Thus, with the expiration of Republic Act. No 7966, which granted ABS-CBN a 25-year franchise to operate its TV and radio broadcasting stations, NTC said that ABS-CBN “no longer has a valid and subsisting congressional franchise as required by Act No. 3846.
In a statement, ABS-CBN said, “millions of Filipinos will lose their source of news and entertainment when ABS-CBN is ordered to go off-air on TV and radio tonight (May 5) when people need crucial and timely information as the nation deals with the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“Despite Senate Resolution No. 40, the House of Representatives’ committee on legislative franchises’ letter, the guidance of the Department of Justice, and the sworn statement of NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Codoba, the NTC did not grant ABS-CBN a provisional authority to operate while its franchise renewal remains pending in Congress,” ABS-CBN said.
“In an interview with DZMM last week, House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano even gave an assurance that there is no move to shut down the network,” it added.
The order was released as the country faces the coronavirus pandemic when media entities play an essential role in disseminating information to the public.
“We trust that the government will decide on our franchise with the best interest of the Filipino people in mind, recognizing ABS-CBN’s role and efforts in providing the latest news and information during these challenging times,” ABS-CBN said.
The bills seeking the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise remain pending before the House of Representatives.
Republic Act No. 3846 requires television and radio broadcasting companies to secure a franchise from the government before they are allowed to operate. It is Congress that will decide whether to extend the franchise to public utilities, such as the media.
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