National News

ABS CBN Goes Off Air

Philippines’ largest media and entertainment network ABS CBN goes off air after the National Telecommunication Commission ordered it to stop operations due to the expiry of its legislative franchise. It can be recalled that the network has ceased operations in 1972 when then-President Ferdinand Marcos placed the country under martial law. This is the second time the network has been shut down.

ABS CBN signed off at 7:52pm yesterday (May 05) after airing the national anthem and naming its engineers and TV stations. Included in the shutdown are five AM stations: DZMM, 18 FM stations, and 42 TV stations including Channel 2 and Channel 23 – leaving approximately 11,000 ABS CBN employees jobless. Read more: ABS CBN goes off air following NTC order.

“Ipadama, isaad at ipadinig po natin ang ating nararamdaman sa pagsasara ng ating ABS-CBN. Sa oras na ito, kami naman po ang humihingi ng inyong pagdamay,” states ABS CBN President and CEO Carlo Katigbak.

“Masakit sa amin na ipinasasara kami, pero masakit rin ito para sa milyun-milyong mga kababayan natin naniniwalang ang aming serbisyo ay mahalaga sa kanila,” states ABS CBN Corporation Chairman Mark Lopez.

The NTC reiterated that the shutdown is due to the expiry of the network’s legislative franchise. Moreover, the commission requested ABS CBN to explain why the frequencies assigned to it should not be recalled.

“Wala na pong [There is no] basis of the authorization granted. Since wala na pong [there is no longer an] authority, they have to stop operating. We do not have any option but to comply with the law. We have to comply with the law,” states NTC Deputy Commissioner Edgardo Cabarios.

It can be recalled that the NTC has previously committed to the House Committee on Legislative Franchises that it will provide the network a provisional authority to operate pending the grant of a franchise. It was, however, opposed by Solicitor General Jose Calida, stating that there is no law delegating the powers of Congress to approve franchises to the NTC. Calida even warned that graft charges may be imposed should the NTC commissioners push their move.

However, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra has different views than that of Calida’s.

“Considering that it has allowed other companies before in the same situation like PT&T, Smart and CBCP (Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines), it would just be fair and non-discriminatory if the NTC will continue to allow also ABS-CBN to operate while awaiting the action of Congress on the renewal of the franchise bill,” states Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra.

While the network has ceased its operations, it can continue delivering content via its online platforms and cable news channel ANC.

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