ABS-CBN may ask SC for TRO against shutdown order — NTC

Marje Pelayo   •   May 6, 2020   •   1170

MANILA, Philippines — The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) advises media giant ABS-CBN to appeal for a temporary restraining order (TRO) with the Supreme Court (SC) to resume broadcast on TV and radio after its shutdown on Tuesday evening (May 5).

According to NTC Deputy Commissioner Edgardo Cabarios, a TRO is ABS-CBN’s potential remedy for now to stop the cease and desist order issued by the agency after the network’s franchise lapsed on May 4.

“If they get the TRO then they can resume operation,” Cabarios said. 

The NTC explained that only the Congress has the power to grant a franchise to media networks in the country.

“Section 1 kasi ng Act 3846 ay klaro na kung wala kang congressional franchise, you cannot operate radio broadcasting stations, [Section 1 of Republic Act 3846 is clear, without congressional franchise you cannot operate radio broadcasting stations],” the NTC official said. 

Cabarios clarified, however, that ABS-CBN programs may still be aired on other platforms.

Pwede sa online, Internet, pwede ring cable television or pwede ring sa ibang radio and television stations na mayroon valid franchise at authority from the Commission [They can go online, they may use the Internet or other cable, radio or television stations that have valid franchise and authority from the Commission],” he noted. 

Meanwhile, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines condemned the NTC’s action saying it was an attack on press freedom.

“The cease and desist order issued by the NTC against ABS-CBN is a deplorable assault on free press that further reveals that this administration is more interested in restricting basic freedoms than in containing a pandemic,” the group said in a statement.

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) noted the importance of the media’s role in democracy.

Gusto lang natin na ma-tackle ito, ma-deliberate ito, [We want this tackled and deliberated],” argued CHR spokesperson, Atty. Jacqueline De Guia.

Kasi ang isa sa mga suliranin sa kasong ito ay hindi nagkakaroon ng tamang pagdinig doon sa issue na kinakaharap para sa pagre-renew ng franchise, [One of the problems in this case is the lack of deliberation on the franchise renewal]” she concluded. MNP (with details from Rey Pelayo)

Sotto files Senate bill seeking to renew ABS-CBN franchise

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 4, 2021

Senator Vicente Sotto III

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Vicente Sotto III filed a Senate bill on Monday (January 4) that seeks the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise.

Senate Bill no. 1967 has been filed to grant the media company a new license to operate for 25 years. On the bill’s explanatory note, Sotto cited the importance of broadcast media in every Filipino home.

“Television and radio—which are both part of traditional media—have revolutionized mass communication due to the instant nature of these media,” he said.

The ABS-CBN’s franchise expired in March 2020. The House panel also denied its franchise renewal. AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

DICT backs NTC’s streamlining of permit process for fiber optic cable deployment

Robie de Guzman   •   November 5, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) on Thursday expressed support for the initiative of its attached agency, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), to streamline the permitting process for the installation of fiber optic cables.

The DICT said the NTC is requesting concerned government agencies to streamline the permitting processes for fiber optic cables similar to Joint Memorandum Circular No.1 s. 2020, which streamlines the issuance of permits, licenses, and certificates for the construction of shared passive telecommunications tower infrastructure.

These concerned agencies were the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) and the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA).

The move seeks to facilitate seamless integration of fiber optic cable and wireless technologies that are both critical components of the country’s broadband network, it added.

“The DICT is currently fast-tracking the implementation of the National Broadband Program – our Department’s initiative in building a government-owned broadband network for better, more affordable and more extensive Internet connectivity in the country,” DICT Secretary Gregorio Honasan II said in a statement.

“We welcome all initiatives that will complement the NBP, including efforts to improve ICT infrastructures in the private sector side,” he added.

The NTC said in its letter to the DICT and the said concerned agencies that the joint memorandum circular signed in July this year has proven to be effective in facilitating the addition of required base towers in the Philippines leading to improvements in wireless coverage and technologies.

The DICT said the NTC also aims to fast-track the deployment of fiber optic networks, the fundamental telecommunication infostructure needed to address the country’s ICT needs along with addressing the wireless component of telecommunications.

NTC said it is presently coordinating with the DPWH for possible amendments in Department Order No. 73 s. 2014 which provides for guidelines for right-of-way concerns in the deployment of fiber optic networks along national roads and bridges.

DICT, NTC urge DPWH to amend right-of-way rules to speed up ICT infra rollout

Robie de Guzman   •   October 21, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) on Wednesday called on the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to look into the feasibility of amending the policy on the right-of-way to expedite the rollout of ICT infrastructure.

In a statement, the DICT said the agency and the NTC recently wrote to the DPWH urging it to consider Department Order 73 which provides for the right-of-way rules and regulations.

The DICT said the DPWH department order currently prohibits “posts and towers of Electric Cooperatives and Major Electric Power Distribution; distribution lines; posts for cable of phones and mobile service providers” along all national roads.”

The department said this prohibition results in difficulties for public telecommunication entities as they proceed with the implementation of their roll-out plans for critical backbone and last mile connectivity. 

In its letter to DPWH Secretary Mark Villar dated Sept. 21, the DICT and NTC recalled their joint commitment under the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) signed during the First Philippine Telecoms Summit on May 08, 2017.

The MOA stated that the agencies agreed to amend or revise D.O. 73, s. 2014 to institute more conducive right-of-way regulations to accelerate the deployment of ICT infrastructure. 

After the MOA signing, the DPWH held various technical working group (TWG) meetings with representatives from the DICT, NTC, telcos, cable operators as well as other stakeholders. 

Proposed amendments to D.O. 73 are also highlighted as one of the priorities of the recently established Telecommunications Monitoring Group (TMG).

The TMG is an inter-agency body comprised of members from the DICT, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Presidential Anti-Crime Commission (PACC), Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA), and the Office of the Special Assistant to the President (OSAP).

DICT Secretary Gregorio B. Honasan II said, “the indispensable use not just of telecommunications, but also of the Internet and other information services in the new normal, highlights the urgent need for equitable access to affordable, quality and reliable ICT connectivity.”

The DICT chief believes that ICT connectivity will only be possible through the accelerated rollout of ICT networks and infrastructure.

“So our priority is to develop enabling policies that address the private sectors’ complaints against red tape that serve as a cause of delay in the rollout of infrastructure for both telecommunications as well as information services,” he added.

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