NTC orders ABS-CBN to stop operations

May 6 ------ The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) issued a Cease-and-Desist Order (CDO) against ABS-CBN after its legislative franchise expired on May 4. The NTC order, dated May 5, directed ABS-CBN to stop operating its television and radio broadcasting stations nationwide citing absence of a valid congressional franchise required for the network to continue operating. “The NTC Regional Offices shall implement the closure order in their respective areas of jurisdiction,” NTC said in a statement. Republic Act No. 3846 or the Radio Control Law 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.” With the expiration of the Republic Act No. 7966, which granted ABS-CBN a 25-year franchise to operate its TV and radio broadcasting stations, NTC said ABS-CBN “no longer has a valid and subsisting congressional franchise as required by Republic Act No. 3846.” Based on the order, the Lopez-owned ABS-CBN was given 10 days from the receipt of the Order to respond as to why the frequencies assigned to the network should not be recalled. “After receipt of ABS-CBN’s response, the NTC shall schedule the case for hearing at the earliest time after he enhanced community quarantine is lifted by the government,” the NTC statement concluded. ABS-CBN statement In a statement, ABS-CBN said millions of Filipinos will lose their source of news and entertainment with the order to go off-air on TV and radio tonight (5 May 2020) when people need crucial and timely information as the nation deals with the COVID-19 pandemic. This is in compliance with the CDO issued by the NTC. Despite Senate Resolution No. 40, the House of Representatives’ committee on legislative franchises’ letter, the guidance of the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the sworn statement of NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba, the NTC did not grant ABS-CBN a provisional authority to operate while its franchise renewal remains pending in Congress. 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. ABS-CBN has been providing comprehensive news coverage on the public health crisis and working with local governments and the private sector in providing food and basic goods for those in need through its “Pantawid ng Pag-ibig” campaign. To date, it has delivered over P300 million worth of goods for the benefit of over 600,000 families affected by the enhanced community quarantine. “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 remains committed to being in the service of the Filipino and we will find ways to continue providing meaningful service to them,” the ABS-CBN statement concluded. Meanwhile, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra assured that ABS-CBN network can appeal before the courts the CDO issued by the NTC. “The CDO is immediately executory but is appealable to either the RTC (regional trial court) or the CA (Court of Appeals),” Guevarra told reporters on Tuesday. Guevarra explained that, once ABS-CBN files a petition, the court will conduct a judicial review. In the meantime, Guevarra said it will be up to ABS-CBN if it will continue to air in spite of NTC’s CDO. “The cease-and-desist order is immediately executory (subject to judicial review). But it’s up to ABS-CBN if it will comply,” he said. “The NTC will have to enforce it if ABS-CBN will not voluntarily comply,” Guevarra added. Prior the issuance of the CDO, Guevarra recounted that the NTC even sought the legal opinion of the Department of Justice (DOJ) if ABS-CBN will be allowed to operate once its legislative franchise expired on Monday, May 4, and the renewal of its franchise remains pending with Congress. “The NTC requested our opinion and the DOJ gave them an advice in accordance with law and equity,” he said. “The Congress expressed essentially the same view as that of the DOJ and further enjoined the NTC to issue a provisional authority to ABS CBN,” he added. Despite these, Guevarra said “the NTC issued a cease-and-desist order instead.” “It must have a very good reason for doing so. Let’s wait for its explanation,” Guevarra said. Source: mb.com.ph