The Philippines: Senate adopts resolution calling on NTC to ‘reconsider’ order vs ABS-CBN

  • The Senate on 11 May 20 adopted a resolution calling on the National Telecommunications Commission to reconsider its cease and desist order against ABS-CBN.
  • Senators adopted Resolution No. 395 expressing the sense of the chamber to urge the telecommunications regulator to reconsider the CDO it issued on 5 May 20.
  • The resolution noted “precedents” where entities with expired franchises were allowed to continue operation, “pending the grant of franchise renewal by Congress,” citing the cases of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines Broadcast, Globe Innove and PT&T.
  • A copy of the resolution was previously posted by Sen. Risa Hontiveros, one of its authors.
  • It also cited NTC’s memorandum stating that existing permit certificates and licenses expiring within 15 Mar 20 to 14 Apr 20 or during the Enhanced Community Quarantine shall continue to be valid 60 days after the end of the government-imposed quarantine period.
  • “This suggests that there is enough basis in policy and in practice to allow ABS-CBN Corporation and its subsidiaries and/or affiliates to continue their operations pending the renewal of their respective franchises,” it added.
  • “Now more than ever, in the middle of the biggest public health crisis of our generation, the Filipino people deserve access to up-to-date news provided by a free and unfettered media, and multiple sources of information provide the best pathways for truth to emerge,” the resolution read.
  • Hontiveros, in her sponsorship speech, said in Filipino that while ABS-CBN can be accessed through the internet, “many Filipinos still have no access or have good internet connection.”
  • “In far-flung areas of our country, only radio and television are the sources of information of our countrymen. Cutting off this source of information is ill-timed at best, dangerous at worst,” she added.
  • ABS-CBN stopped operation of its 42 television stations—including free channel 2—10 digital broadcast channels, 18 FM stations and five AM stations on 5 May 20, hours after it received NTC’s order.
  • The network ran to the Supreme Court to ask for temporary restraining order against the NTC CDO.

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