CDO vs ABS-CBN poses ‘life-death’ consequences

By: Rosalie O. Abatayo - Multimedia Reporter - CDN Digital | May 07,2020 - 07:40 PM

‘KEEP US IN YOUR THOUGHTS’ ABS-CBN employees light candles in solidarity as the network’s darkest hour came on Tuesday night. —EDWIN BACASMAS

CEBU CITY, Philippines — The cease and desist order  (CDO) against media giant ABS-CBN has posed “life and death” consequences that span beyond the 11,000 employees of the network.

The economic ripple, according to Cebuano lawmaker Raul Del Mar, extends to other entities that transact with the network, including the government.

“The loss of millions of pesos in income to the company. The possible wipeout of investments from the public in its shares of stocks. The stripping of means of livelihood and income, not just of its 11,000 or more employees and their families, but also the small businesses supplying to or otherwise dealing with the principal company,” Del Mar said in an emailed statement on Thursday, May 7, 2020.

Del Mar said the timing of the CDO issued by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) was bad “on all levels” considering the present health and economic crises due to COVID-19.

This bad timing, Del Mar said, affects not only the livelihood of ABS-CBN’s over 11,000 employees and their families and the income for the network’s owners but also the investors and sub-contractors and taxes for the government.

“Then, there’s the loss of a major source of news and information as well as entertainment to millions of ABS-CBN’s devoted fans, many of whom have been watching its shows through the years,” Del Mar said.

The controversy surrounding the closure of the network, Del Mar added, is draining the “Filipinos’ collective immune system at a time when we must work together in fighting the real enemy.”

Del Mar, who represents Cebu City North District and earlier called for a hearing on the TV network’s franchise renewal, also said the closure of the network was not what the NTC and the House leadership has promised.

Several bills for the renewal of the franchise of the Kapamilya network has been pending before the 17th and 18th Congress since 2016 but the Congress has not yet acted on it,

Last February, Del Mar filed a joint resolution seeking to extend the validity of ABS-CBN’s legislative franchise until the end of the 18th Congress or on June 30, 2022, considering the constraint in the time since the 18th Congress was then due to be on recess on March 14.

“This is not what Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra ‘guided’ NTC by, which is, that there is ‘sufficient equitable basis’ for broadcast companies to continue operating while Congress still has to act on the bills granting the renewal,” Del Mar argued.

Rep. Del Mar added that the immediately executory CDO has been unfair to the network since it did not give the latter the opportunity to explain why they should remain on-air.

“This is not what fair hearing means: NTC  last May 5 ordering ABS-CBN to cease and desist immediately, not even waiting for the 10 days from receipt of the order for it to explain. Close shop and explain later,” Del Mar said.

The lawmaker also lamented how the closure had been the government’s way to “reward” the media giant for its initiatives in “raising and distributing large amounts of cash and volumes of goods for the countless citizens who have lost their jobs or their incomes reduced during the pandemic.”

On May 5, a day after the legislative franchise of ABS-CBN expired, the NTC ordered the network to stop broadcast absent a valid legislative franchise.

The move was contrary to earlier commitment of the NTC leadership during a Committee hearing in Congress last March 10 that the agency will grant a provisional authority for ABS-CBN to continue operating despite the expiry of their franchise.

Del Mar said the NTC could have waited until there will be a “fully functioning justice system and a fully operational Congress” after the pandemic to set a fair hearing of arguments for and against the network.

The lawmaker, in the same statement, called on the House leadership to expedite its hearing on the bills for the renewal of the ABS-CBN franchise.

“If the disclosures at the Senate committee hearing by a number of government agencies that have regulatory power over the networks – such as NTC, BIR, SEC, DTI and the like – were not enough,  the House committee to conduct its own hearings to enable accusers against ABS-CBN to present their evidence and the network to answer them,” Del Mar suggested. /rcg

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TAGS: 'life-death' consequences, ABS-CBN, CDO vs ABS-CBN, National Telecommunications Commission, Raul del Mar

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