Shut down broadcast operations, NTC orders ABS-CBN

With its Congressional Franchise lapsed, NTC submits cease and desist order against broadcast giant, ABS-CBN on May 5, 2020

The National Telecommunication Commission (NTC) which governs the operations of TV and radio stations in the Philippines has filed a cease and desist order against ABS-CBN as it cited that it could no longer continue operations without a Congressional Franchise. Republic Act No. 7966 which provides ABS-CBN a 25-year franchise to operate as a TV and radio station expired last May 4, 2020.

In the said order, NTC instructs its regional offices throughout the country to implement the order in their areas of jurisdiction.

Based on Republic Act No. 3846 or the Radio Control Law, broadcast stations may only operate under the provision of a Congressional Franchise approved by both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Last February 10, 2020, Solicitor General Jose Calida filed a quo warranto against ABS-CBN seeking to revoke its franchise through the Supreme Court. According to Calida, ABS-CBN has allowed foreign ownership through the issuance of Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDRs) similar to the case filed against Rappler in 2018.

Several resolutions are pending in the House of Representatives calling for the renewal of ABS-CBN’s Congressional Franchise. Earlier last March, the Senate filed a separate resolution stating that the NTC should allow ABS-CBN to operate while waiting for a decision to be made in the Lower House. NTC responded and said that a provisional permit would be given to ABS-CBN allowing them to operate until June 2022 unless instructed otherwise by the Supreme Court.

ABS-CBN operates around 40 television stations, 23 radio stations, and 10 digital broadcast channels. A Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) report shows that the company employs around 4,000 employees as of 2018.

The NTC has given the ABS-CBN ten (10) days to respond as to why the frequencies assigned to it should not be recalled.

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