NTC suspends SMNI operations for 30 days
MANILA, Philippines — The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) suspended the operations of Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI) for 30 days on Thursday.
The NTC said its directive was initiated in response to a House resolution, which urged the suspension of SMNI over alleged violations of its franchise’s terms and conditions.
The suspension was issued together with a show cause order against Swara Sug Media Corporation – the business name of SMNI, instructing it to provide a written explanation within 15 days from the date of receipt as to why it should not face administrative sanctions.
NTC’s order states that “in ordering the 30-day suspension of Swara Sug’s operations of its radio and television stations pursuant to Section 16 (n) of the Public Service Act, as amended, the NTC took cognizance of the House of Representatives’ declaration.”
It also says “that Swara Sug has violated at least three specific provisions of its legislative franchise, and gave due deference to such determination of the House of Representatives and its authority over all matters directly and principally relating to the grant, amendment, extension, or revocation of franchises.”
A corresponding administrative hearing on the suspension order was set for Jan. 4, 2024.
NTC’s stoppage order stemmed from House Resolution No. 1499, which asserted that SMNI violated the terms and conditions of its franchise under Republic Act No. 11422. Its principal author, PBA Party-list Rep. Margarita Nograles, pointed out that Section 4 of SMNI’s legislative franchise restrains the network from using its stations or facilities to propagate false information.
Nograles was referring to claims made by Jeffrey Celiz, one of the hosts of SMNI’s “Laban Kasama ng Bayan,” that Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez’s travel expenses reached P1.8 billion. But this information was later proven false as House officials explained that the entire chamber only spent P39.60 million for travels between January and October this year.
Early this week, the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) issued a 14-day preventive suspension order on two of SMNI’s programs, namely, “Gikan Sa Masa, Para Sa Masa” which features former President Rodrigo Duterte, and “Laban Kasama Ang Bayan” hosted by Celiz and former anti-insurgency task force spokesperson Lorraine Badoy.