NTC orders ABS-CBN affiliate Sky Cable Corp. to cease direct broadcast satellite services

Robie de Guzman   •   June 30, 2020   •   2185

MANILA, Philippines – The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) on Tuesday, June 30, ordered Sky Cable Corporation, an affiliate of ABS-CBN Corp., to halt its services.

In the directive, the NTC ordered Sky Cable to immediately cease and desist operating its direct broadcast satellite (DBS) service assigned to radio frequencies 14421-14457MHz and 12673-12709MHz.

Sky Cable entered into a Transponder Lease Agreement with New Skies Satellites B.V. for the lease of satellite capacity to Sky Cable for the operation of its DBS service.

The NTC said that pursuant to Republic Act No. 7969, the commission issued a provisional authority to Sky Cable Corp. in 2015 to install, operate, and maintain a DBS in 251 cities and municipalities nationwide for the period of December 23, 2015 to June 23, 2017.

“On July 25, 2018, the Commission extended said provisional authority from June 23, 2017 up to but not beyond June 23, 2021, subject to the applicable terms and conditions set forth in the previous provisional authority and conditioned upon compliance with the Commission’s existing rules and regulations,” the order stated.

However, the agency noted that the legislative franchise granted to Sky Cable Corp. by virtue of RA 7969 has expired on May 4, 2020.

“Upon the expiration of RA No. 7969, Sky Cable Corporation no longer has a valid and subsisting congressional franchise to install, operate and maintain a direct broadcast satellite service,” the order read.

The NTC also asked Sky Cable to “show cause in writing” within 10 days why the radio frequencies assigned to it shall not be recalled for “lack of the necessary Congressional Franchise as required by the law.”

“Failure to file an answer within the period herein granted shall be considered Respondents’ waiver of its right to be heard, and the commission shall render such judgement as the law and evidence may warrant,” it said.

The commission also ordered Sky Cable to refund to all its subscribers those amounts representing unconsumed prepaid load, deposits on subscriber equipment and devices, deposit or advance payment in monthly charges for postpaid subscribers, if any, charges collected from new applicants for DBS service.

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.

NTC orders shutdown of ABS-CBN subsidiary Sky Cable, TV Plus channels

Marje Pelayo   •   July 1, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) on Tuesday (June 30) hit media giant ABS-CBN Corp. with another big blow after it issued another cease and desist order to shutdown the station’s subsidiary channels. 

The orders signed by NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba covered the operation of Sky Cable and  the network’s other channels on TVPlus.

The regulatory body argued that the other platforms should also be closed because these were also covered by the CDO the agency issued on May 5.

Aside from the shutdown, the NTC also gave Sky Cable 10 days to explain why the radio frequencies assigned to it should not be recalled for lack of franchise. 

“Upon the expiration of RA (Republic Act) 7969, Sky Cable Corporation no longer has a valid and subsisting congressional franchise to install, operate or maintain a Direct Broadcast Satellite (DBS) Service,” the order read.

Likewise, the NTC ordered the network to refund its subscribers “those amounts representing unconsumed prepaid loads, deposits on subscriber equipment and devices, deposit or advance payment in monthly charges for postpaid subscribers, if any, charges collected from new applicants for DBS service, and other charges collected.”

In a statement, Sky Cable said it will comply with the NTC order.

“Sky Cable Corporation complies with the cease and desist order (CDO) issued by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) stopping the company from operating its direct broadcast satellite service immediately,” the firm said in a statement.

“We will refund all unconsumed prepaid loads and advance postpaid payments. We appeal to our SKYdirect subscribers and partners for understanding and patience as we undergo this process,” it added.

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While ABS-CBN argued that there was no mention of Channel 43 in the May 5 shutdown order, the network immediately stopped its digital TV transmission in Metro Manila using the said channel in compliance with the alias CDO recently issued by the NTC.

“While channel 43 is not mentioned in NTC’s cease and desist order (CDO) of May 5, 2020, and it is ABS-CBN’s informed understanding that channel 43 is not included in the CDO, digital TV transmission in Metro Manila using channel 43 will cease tonight (June 30), consistent with the intent of the alias CDO,” ABS-CBN said.

This means operations of digital channels Teleradyo, Jeepney TV, Yey!, Asianovela Channel, CineMo and KBO will also cease.

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For now, ABS-CBN awaits the Supreme Court’s decision on a petition it filed against the NTC’s cease and desist order. MNP (with inputs from Vincent Arboleda)

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