In the ongoing saga of ABS-CBN franchise renewal, one of the pertinent issues being raised in the quo warranto case filed by the Solicitor General Jose Calida was ABS-CBN’s use of the pay-per-view channel KBO.
Calida accused the network of “broadcasting for a fee” when it operated KBO Channel on its ABS-CBN TV Plus allegedly without approval or permission from the National Telecommunications Commission.
However, in a legal opinion to the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) by the Department of Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra dated June 2018, it said that broadcasters like ABS-CBN are allowed to offer pay-per-view services provided that it will not be for the “purpose of providing multiple channel CATV service”.
“To summarize, it is our opinion that TV broadcasters may be allowed to engage in Conditional Access (CA) or Conditional Access System (CAS), more specifically to offer TV pay-per-view services provided that it does not amount to CATV service, which shall only be considered as such if it is “for purposes of providing multiple channel CATV service,” said in DOJ’s legal opinion.
In the same legal opinion, Guevarra stated section 1 of ABS-CBN’s franchise law which said
to construct, operate and maintain, for commercial purposes and in the public interest, television and radio broadcasting stations in and throughout the Philippines, through microwave, satellite or whatever means including the use of any new technologies in television and radio systems, with the corresponding technological auxiliaries or facilities, special broadcast and other broadcast distribution services and relay stations.
Reading the law, the DOJ Secretary said NTC’s question on whether a TV network can engage in CA or CAS and offer pay-per-view services is allowed.
“The provisions of Section 1 are categorical enough that there is no need for interpretation—only application,” Guevarra said.
“There is nothing in said provisions that would give any impression that ‘commercial purposes’ are limited only to income derived by TV broadcast companies from paid advertisements,” he added.