Closure of cable TV firms, scarce access to info possible if EO on ‘liberalized’ cable TV repealed | Inquirer News
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Closure of cable TV firms, scarce access to info possible if EO on ‘liberalized’ cable TV repealed

By: - Reporter / @KHallareINQ
/ 10:42 PM July 29, 2020

MANILA, Philippines The country’s largest group of cable TV operators on Wednesday warned that closure of some cable operators is highly possible if an executive order that paved the way for the “liberalization” of the Philippines’ cable television industry will be repealed.

In a phone interview with INQUIRER.net, Philippine Cable Television Association (PCTA) president Joel Dabao also cautioned that closure of cable TV operators could leave the public with inadequate access to vital news and information especially in this time of the pandemic.

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Dabao first explained that Executive Order (EO) 205, which was signed by President Cory Aquino in 1987, was the law that empowered the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to “authorize certain bodies who want to offer community antenna television services in certain areas.”

“It’s the law that sort of liberalized the cable TV industry,” Dabao said. “At that time kasi, isa lang ‘yung cable TV company, Sining Makulay, tapos [ang] may-ari nun, Marcos crony. And with that, I guess the prevailing logic was, since hindi naman patrimony ng Pilipinas ang ginagamit, by its nature kable, so we’re not using frequencies.”

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(At that time, there was only one cable TV company, Sining Makulay, which is owned by a Marcos crony. And with that, I guess the prevailing logic was since it was not the patrimony of the Philippines being used, by its nature cable, so we’re not using frequencies.)

During a joint hearing of the House Committee on Legislative Franchises and House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability in June, Deputy Speaker Rodante Marcoleta questioned why Sky Cable, a subsidiary of ABS-CBN, was still allowed to air the network’s shows despite the cable operator having an expired franchise.

READ: Marcoleta questions ABS-CBN’s airing of shows on Sky Cable without franchise

NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba then cited EO 205, which essentially removed the requirement for a franchise for cable TV operators.

“Actually, other cable TV operators, when they apply with us, do not submit a franchise. And they don’t get a franchise from the legislative branch of government,” Cordoba said at that time. “What they do is they incorporate through the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) and then they submit an application to the NTC.”

But the lawmaker argued that the 1987 Constitution was ratified in February 1987, and Aquino only released the order in June of that same year.

Marcoleta added that Central TV, now known as Sky Cable, applied for a franchise before Congress instead of availing of a certificate of authority to operate from NTC.

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Asked what happens if EO 205 will be repealed, Dabao said that it will not only affect Sky Cable but all cable TV operators as well.

“What we’re still studying if the law is repealed [is] what will happen to existing cable operators,” the PCTA president said.

“For me, to get congressional franchises, chances are we all have to close—not all but most of the smaller ones will have to close. Because a lot of people think that cable operators are big companies like SkyCable, but actually, even with the PCTA, a lot of our members have very, very small systems in faraway areas where even the free-to-air channels don’t reach.”

“We’re worried about our members, we’re worried about their subscribers, and the community as a whole if we’re forced to get congressional franchises because quite frankly, for most of us, it’s not financially feasible,” he also said.

The PCTA, according to Dabao, currently has 371 members out of the 1,000 cable TV operators nationwide.

During the interview, Dabao further pointed out: “So, if you’re going to take out all the small cable operators and you’re going to need news during the time of the pandemic to the broadcast stations, a lot of faraway places will not be able to get any updated news.”

KGA

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TAGS: ABS-CBN, cable TV, Cory Aquino, Executive Order 205, Joel Dabao, NTC, Philippine Cable Television Association, Rodante Marcoleta, Sky Cable
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