NTC: ABS-CBN franchise woes different from other networks
MANILA, Philippines — The situation of ABS-CBN Corp. regarding its franchise is different from other entities that were allowed to operate despite expired franchises, an official of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) said Friday in apparent justification of their move to close down the media network giant.
NTC Deputy Commissioner Edgardo Cabarios said in an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel “there were issues raised” against the broadcasting company’s license and its bid to renew it to another 25 years, thus, they “cannot just keep quiet” about it.
“There are comments, issues, there are those challenging the validity of the franchise. There are opinions now being raised,” Cabarios noted.
But there were cases when similar media organizations were given provisional authority, which allowed them to continue operations beyond the expiration of their license and while the franchise renewal application is pending in Congress.
“That’s right and nobody had complained, nobody raised issues about these (other entities), but this is different because there are issues that were raised [against ABS-CBN],” Cabarios continued.
“There are issues that were raised. There are comments, issues, there are those challenging the validity of the franchise. There are opinions now being raised… So hindi na pwede (So not anymore), we cannot just keep quiet,” he also said, adding that NTC officials will be charged with dereliction of duty if it does not do anything on the matter.
Cabarios was then asked if NTC could be guilty of omission in the past when it granted provisional authority to other broadcast and telecommunication networks, which franchise renewal bids were pending in Congress. To this, Cabarios replied:
“Remember when Congress said they can continue, we interpreted that to be extending the validity of the franchise, but in this particular case, no. There was a resolution enjoining the commission to grant provisional authority when the franchise expires. So it’s a different case,” he reiterated.
Cabarios further said it would “perhaps be difficult” to reverse the order of NTC on ABS-CBN’s shutdown. According to him, the probability of the commission reversing its order is “quite low,” citing that the decision was reached after days of discussions and considerations.
On May 5, a day after the expiration of ABS-CBN franchise, NTC ordered the media network giant to “cease and desist” from broadcasting on television and radio. ABS-CBN obliged and went off the air at 7:52 p.m. on Tuesday.
To recall, President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly threatened to block the franchise renewal of ABS-CBN, complaining that the network did not give him the airtime he had paid for his political ads during the presidential campaign in 2016.
But in a Senate hearing in February, ABS-CBN president and chief executive officer Carlo Katigbak thoroughly explained what happened to those campaign advertisements of then-presidential candidate Duterte.
Katigbak said that while the network was able to air all of the more than P100 million national ads of Duterte, it was unable to air all of Duterte’s local ads due to lack of slots.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, however, said that despite Duterte’s pronouncements the Chief Executive remains “neutral” on the issue and that members of Congress should vote on the franchise renewal “as [their] conscience dictates.”
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