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

Marje Pelayo   •   July 1, 2020   •   2302

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)

House to probe ‘bad loans’ in DBP worth P9.6-B

Marje Pelayo   •   February 17, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability resumed on Wednesday (February 17) the inquiry on the alleged condonation of the P1.6-B loans made by companies controlled by or affiliated with the Lopez family from the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP).

The House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability unanimously agreed to a motion that seeks to include in the on-going inquiry all “bad loans” that the DBP sold to special purpose vehicles (SPV) or financial companies at a loss in 2006.

But the DBP divulged that there is almost P9.6 billion pesos worth of non-performing loans and assets including those of the Lopezes.

“Magkano ang total amount na na-dispose nyo under the framework of the (Special Purpose Vehicle Act of 2002 (SPV) law? As you have said earlier, iyong P1.6B parte lang portfolio nyo of the non-performing assets,” asked Ako Bicol Partylist Rep. Alfredo Garbin Jr.

In response to Garbin, the DBP admitted to have sold P9.556 billion of non-performing assets.

The SPV Law allows banks to sell those kinds of loans at a lower value.

“Not only the Lopezes but the entire conglomerates or entities that benefited from the framework of the SPV Law ay dapat isama natin lahat,” Garbin said.

DBP also notified the lawmakers that they currently have around P7.5 billion pesos in non-performing loans and assets.

The Committee agreed to conduct an executive session to determine all the companies that failed to pay loans extended by the bank.

Anakalusugan Rep. Michael Defensor also filed a motion for the issuance of a subpoena that will compel the DBP board and management to submit the list of private companies that failed to pay loans extended by the bank, which the panel approved.

The DBP, for its part, stated that they are willing to provide the needed documents.

“In spirit, I’d like to say that we have been obedient to the due process of this honorable Committee,” said DBP President and CEO Emmanuel Herbosa. 

Meanwhile, Committee Chairperson Rep. Michael Edgar Aglipay apologized to President Rodrigo Duterte for the delay of the inquiry on the matter.

According to Aglipay, this is to give way to DBP to produce the requested documents.

“Mr. President, I’m sincerely sorry. And may I humbly request for your forgiveness for the inconvenience that may have caused you by reasons of this hearing,” Aglipay said. 

In his public address on February 8, Duterte once again took a swipe at the Lopezes saying that he will not allow its network ABS-CBN to operate even if they were granted a fresh franchise. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

Duterte won’t allow ABS-CBN to operate even if Congress grants a franchise, unless…

Marje Pelayo   •   February 9, 2021

 MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte maintained that he will not allow ABS-CBN to operate even if Congress grants a new franchise.

In his weekly public address on Monday evening (February 8), the President said lawmakers may do what they are mandated to do as regards this issue.

“Congress is planning to restore the franchise of the Lopez. Wala akong problema doon kung i-restore ninyo (I have no problem if you decide to restore it),” he said following moves from several lawmakers to revive the franchise application of ABS-CBN eight months after it shut down.

“Kung ibigay ninyo ang (If you give them) franchise because it is within your power to do it, go ahead,” he added. 

The Chief Executive maintained, however, that he will order the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) not to grant the media network a license to operate unless the media giant pays its arrears to the government.

“If you say that they can operate, kung meron na sila (once they have the franchise), no, I will not allow them. I will not allow the NTC to grant them the permit to operate,” Duterte said.

“Unless and until mabayaran ng mga Lopez ang taxes nila (Unless and until the Lopezes pay their taxes) I will not. I will ignore your franchise, and I will not give them the license to operate,” he stressed.

Duterte added that allowing ABS-CBN to operate without settling its dues would be similar to “giving them a prize for committing criminal acts.” 

He said he will let the Ombudsman handle the matter between ABS-CBN and the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) concerning transactions that involved public funds.

Dumating sa akin ito in official capacity. Ang magawa ko lang dito ay (This reached me in official capacity. What I can do is) I think I’ll pass it on to the Ombudsman. Para sa akin ang Ombudsman ang pinaka-independent body na mag-solve nito. Gusto ko lang ibigay sa kanila kasi , pera ito ng tao. (I believe the Ombudsman is the most independent body to solve this. I want them to handle this because this is people’s money). It’s the government’s money that is involved,” he said.

It was in July last year when ABS-CBN lost its franchise, two months after its franchise expired in May. 

The lawmakers denied their application for a fresh 25-year franchise due to labor and tax violations.

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)

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