ABS-CBN signs off Tuesday

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DAVAO CITY — ABS-CBN went off the air 8 p.m. Tuesday following cease and desist order issued by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) that took effect May 5, 2020.

The NTC in its order directed ABS-CBN to stop its operation both its television and radio broadcasting stations nationwide in the absence of a valid Congressional Franchise as required by law.

ABS-CBN has 10 days to explain why the frequencies assigned to it should not be recalled.

Congress granted ABS-CBN a 25-year franchise to operate TV and radio broadcasting stations that expired on May 4, 2020.

During the newscast on Tuesday, ABS-CBN president and CEO Carlo Katigbak said they did not violate any law and have complied with all the requirements to support the renewal of its franchise.

In its statement issued Tuesday evening, ABS-CBN said, “We trust that the government will decide on our franchise with the best interest of the Filipino people in mind, recognizing ABS-CBN’s role and efforts in providing the latest news and information during these challenging times”.

Meanwhile in Malacañang, “The Palace notes that the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has issued a cease and desist order against ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation for lack of a valid legislative franchise. ABS-CBN is free to exhaust all legal remedies available to it,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Roque said in a statement.

Roque said President Rodrigo Duterte has already accepted the network’s apology so he was leaving the matter to Congress.

Last February 26, Duterte said he accepted the apology of ABS-CBN president and CEO Carlo Katigbak over his unaired campaign advertisements during the 2016 presidential elections.

“Let the public be informed that broadcast franchises are within the authority of Congress. It has discretion on what to do with the legislative franchise of ABS-CBN and other broadcasting companies similarly situated,” Roque said.

He thanked the network for its services to the Filipino nation and people especially in this time of coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

However, Roque also said the absence of a legislative franchise, ABS-CBN’s continued operation is entirely the decision of the NTC.

Solicitor General Jose Calida said the NTC commissioners could face prosecution under the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act if it decides to issue the provisional authority to ABS-CBN.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, meanwhile said that ABS-CBN may continue with its operations pending the renewal of its franchise.

Roque expressed confidence that Congress would tackle all the issues on the legality of granting a franchise to ABS-CBN, including the broadcast firm’s supposed violation of the 1987 Constitution when it allowed foreign ownership of the Philippine media entity. (with reports from PNA)

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