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

Robie de Guzman   •   June 30, 2020   •   761

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.

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)

Supreme Court to take up ABS-CBN plea vs NTC order on July 13

Robie de Guzman   •   June 11, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court will tackle next month the petition of ABS-CBN Corporation against the cease and desist order of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) which halted the network’s broadcast operations last May 5.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta said they will discuss the ABS-CBN’s petition on July 13.

Peralta said the high court had to wait for comments from all parties mentioned in the petition before conducting deliberations on the plea.

“We waited for the comments of the House of Representatives, the lower house and the upper house and I think we only received the comments last Friday or last Monday,” he said during an online press conference on Thursday.

ABS-CBN went off the air on May 5, just hours after the NTC issued its order directing the media network to halt its television and radio broadcast operations due to expired franchise. The company’s franchise ended on May 4.

The media giant then filed a petition, urging the Supreme Court to issue a temporary restraining order against the NTC’s closure order.

In its petition, the media company argued that the NTC acted with grave abuse of discretion and violated its rights to equal protection and due process by issuing the order.

The company claimed that the NTC should have deferred to Congress that have earlier sent a formal letter asking the agency to allow ABS-CBN to continue operating while bills seeking for its franchise renewal remain pending in the House of Representatives.

ABS-CBN also pointed out the loss of revenues on the part of the company and the government in terms of taxes, as well as the welfare of its 11,000 employees due to the stoppage of its operations.

SC directs NTC, Congress to answer ABS-CBN vs closure order

Robie de Guzman   •   May 19, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday ordered the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) and Congress to comment on the petition filed by the ABS-CBN Corporation, challenging the cease and desist order that forced the network to go off the air earlier this May.

In a statement, the SC Public Information Office (PIO) said the magistrates gave the NTC 10 days from receipt of the notice to respond to the petition.

The NTC was named as the only respondent to ABS-CBN’s petition but the SC said it separately impleaded the Senate and the House of Representatives as parties to the case and required them to comment on the petition, stated the press briefer posted by the SC on its Twitter account.

The High Court also gave the NTC five days to reply to the comments to be filed by the Senate and the House.

The SC PIO said these actions were unanimously approved by the 14 SC Justices during an En Banc session on Tuesday.

The SC did not issue a temporary restraining order, as requested by the ABS-CBN in its petition, against the implementation of NTC’s closure order which it claims was issued without notice and hearing.

The NTC issued a shutdown order against ABS-CBN after its franchise expired on May 4.

In its petition, the media company argued that the NTC acted with grave abuse of discretion and violated its rights to equal protection and due process by issuing the order.

The company claimed that the NTC should have deferred to Congress that have earlier sent a formal letter asking the agency to allow ABS-CBN to continue operating while bills seeking for its franchise renewal remain pending in the House of Representatives.

It also asked the SC to nullify and set aside the cease and desist order which directed the network to stop the broadcast operations of its television and radio stations on May 5.

The SC PIO also confirmed that the High Court denied the motion of lawyer Lorenzo Gadon to consolidate his petition – which sought for the NTC to be prevented from issuing a provisional authority to ABS-CBN – with the plea of the network.

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