Santa Banana, the National Telecommunications Commission dealt a double whammy this week on the Lopez-owned network, ABS-CBN!
The first blow involved the showing, over Channel 43, the TV Plus and KBO programs that subsidiary ABS-CBN Convergence had put up and charged fees for. The NTC issued a cease-and-desist order on ABS-CBN’s continued showing of the programs.
Skycable owned by AMRAC Broadcast had a bloctime agreement for ABS-CBN to show the TV Plus programs. The NTC ordered the shutdown – the second one for ABS-CBN – obviously because the TV Plus programs was one of the charges brought against the network by Solicitor-General Jose Calida before the Supreme Court. This petition was later junked.
The second, worse blow is the order that the Skycable satellite service to be cut off the air. Skycable was in effect told to stop its operations.
Skycable is a subsidiary of ABS-CBN, a money-making service that charges fees for maintenance. I pay Skycable for the privilege of watching foreign channels like the BBC or HBO, including the ABS-CBN News Channel and the GMA news channel as well.
According to Skycable, it has 1.5 million subscribers in 251 cities and towns nationwide.
In July 2018, the NTC extended the provisional authority of Skycable from June 23, 2017 up to but not beyond June 23, 2021. Its franchise expired last May 4, 2020.
The big question now is whether or not the House Committee on Legislative Franchises will grant ABS-CBN a renewal of its franchise.
So far, the issues against ABS-CBN are on the citizenship of Eugenio “Gabby” Lopez III, former president and CEO and currently chairman emeritus, the ownership issue, and third, the questionable existence of Philippine Depositary Receipts. Ownership and management of mass media should be limited to Filipinos, according to the 1987 Constitution.
In connection with the shutdown of Skycable, I cannot predict what the outcome will be. I am sure that bleeding hearts for ABS-CBN will bring up the issue of press freedom again, not realizing that the grant of franchises is a privilege and not a right.
The state has dominion over the airwaves.
There is a growing concern about Chinese nationals working in POGOs or Philippine Offshore Gaming Corporations leaving the country. Some real estate people are talking about a vacuum that could be created by their leaving, as the POGO workers have come to occupy condominium units and residential properties.
We must note that while the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation licenses POGOs, there are still many that operate illegally.
POGOs are supposed to remit billions in taxes and fees, but many of them have evaded these.
There are forecasts that say we will have no less than 60,000 COVID cases at the end of July.
I do not doubt this, given the number of fresh cases we are seeing every day. This is why I am wondering why the President and the Inter-Agency Task Force are easing safety protocols. Even the World Health Organization is saying the worst is yet to come!
We Filipinos are fighting an unseen enemy. Safety should come before everything else. Of course, my thoughts go out to those who have lost their jobs and livelihood.
We should pray. Prayers move mountains.
Concerning those people from a barangay in Cebu City that held a religious celebration, the police should remember they did it out of faith.