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Wednesday, December 6, 2023

ABS-CBN pleads House for fairness

The National Telecommunications Commission on Monday threatened to halt the airing of programs of ABS-CBN Corp. on Channel 43 of AMCARA Broadcasting Network and on the network's TV Plus digital box.

This prompted ABS-CBN president and chief executive officers Carlo Katigbak to appeal for fairness and due process before legislators at the continuation of hearing of the House joint committees on legislative franchises and good government and public accountability on the network's bid for renewal of franchise.

Katigbak said that Channel 43 of AMCARA, where shows of ABS-CBN continue to air under a block time arrangement, was not covered by the cease and desist order that the NTC issued last May 5.

"The reason we continue to see our channels on TVPlus is we have a block time arrangement with AMCARA…This is common in the broadcast industry," he told lawmakers.

A block time arrangement is a standard commercial arrangement where a company is allowed to buy airtime from a duly licensed broadcaster.

"Of course, we are willing to submit our judgment to the regulatory agency. Our only request is to make sure we are given due process so we have the right venue to express our position on this matter," he appealed.

Katigbak also said that Congress had been allowing companies with expired franchises to continue operations for as long as their renewal application is pending.

"Our appeal to Congress is, in the spirit of fairness, please consider that you have allowed other companies to operate before even after their franchises have expired for so long as Congress continues to hear their application for a renewal," he told lawmakers.

"There are about 11 million homes that have access to our service. If we cut it, that’s almost 55 million people that will lose access to their entertainment, their news and information," Katigbak lamented.

During the hearing, NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba said that they would issue an alias cease and desist order to stop the broadcast of ABS-CBN programs on channel 43.

After consulting with the office of the solicitor general, Cordoba said they have found out that the airing of ABS-CBN shows in Channel 43 and TV plus violates the CDO.

“We will stop it, yes,” Cordoba told Anakalusugan party-list Rep. Michael Defensor, one of the staunchest critics of the network, assuring him that an alias CDO will be issued against the network.

Defensor raised the issue at the start of the hearing Monday even as he criticized the NTC for failing to stop the network from airing its programs through its Digibox despite the CDO.

“This is a usurpation, an infringement of the power of Congress to issue legislative franchises),” Defensor said. “This is a violation of the powers of Congress, of our (exclusive) constitutional mandate (to issue franchises).”

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