As hearings for ABS-CBN franchise renewal resumed today, June 29, several congressmen questioned the continued broadcast of Kapamilya shows on digital platforms when its broadcast franchise allowing the network to operate on air has been terminated since May 4.
This did not sit well with Deputy Speaker Rodante Marcoleta who called attention to ABS-CBN’s continued broadcast through Channel 43 on its TV Plus units and SkyCable, a subsidiary of the media conglomerate whose cable franchise had also ended prior to ABS-CBN shutdown, on March 30.
“Nandito po tayo para himayin, kino-consider po natin kung bibigyan pa o hindi ng prangkisa ang ABS-CBN, pero walang puknat po nilang naipapalabas din naman ang kanilang mga programa sa dalawang plataporma na aking binabanggit gayong pareho nang paso ang kanilang prangkisa,” Marcoleta stated.
Further, Marcoleta on Monday said Cordoba should resign “because he is not doing his job” as he still allowed ABS-CBN’s programs to air on TV Plus and SkyCable’s wireless service despite the shutdown.
But the lawmaker’s query had previously been explained by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC).
In a previous hearing dated June 8, NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba cited an executive order by former President Corazon Aquino that removed the franchise requirement for cable TV operators, meaning they would no longer need a broadcast franchise just to operate.
Executive Order No. 205 section 1 states that: “The operation of Cable Antenna Television (CATV) system in the Philippines shall be open to all citizens of the Philippines, or to corporations, cooperatives or associations wholly-owned and managed by such citizens under a Certificate of Authority granted by the National Telecommunications Commission hereinafter referred to as the Commission.”
Stressing that cable TV operators no longer present legislative franchises when filing for applications at the NTC, Cordoba told the congressmen: “Lumalabas po sa EO ay parang tinanggal po ng EO ang requirement ng prangkisa para po sa mga cable TV operators.”
ABS-CBN President and CEO Carlo Katigbak, who was also present during the hearing and answered the queries of lawmakers, appealed to lawmakers to practice “fairness,” citing previous legislators have allowed other media companies to operate even with the expired franchise while their applications for a fresh franchise were being discussed in Congress.
“Ang appeal po namin sa Kongreso is in the spirit of fairness, please consider that you have allowed other companies to operate before even after their franchises had expired for so long as Congress continues to hear their application for renewal,” Katigbak said.
Katigbak also said that TV Plus and SkyCable services have a combined reach of 11 million households or 55 million people which means that 11 million homes could lose their source of up-to-date information and entertainment if TV Plus and SkyCable services stopped their operations.