ABS-CBN: We follow labor standards

Marje Pelayo   •   February 25, 2020   •   1020

MANILA, Philippines – About 11,000 employees fear losing their jobs if Congress fails to approve ABS-CBN Corporation’s franchise renewal application.

Of the said number, about 6,700 are regular employees while the rest are project-based, independent contractors and content creators.

The company assures that all of these employees are properly compensated including the celebrities, directors and writers among others.

The network, meanwhile, denied that they were practicing end of contract or ‘endo scheme’ and stressed that they have passed the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE) general labor standards including the occupational safety and health standards as well as the security of tenure policy.

“A few weeks ago, we received clearance from DOLE that we’re fully compliant in all of these areas,” explained Mark Nepomuceno, head of the firm’s Corporate Services Group.

But should the network lose the franchise battle, employees are worried about where to look for a new job.

“Umunlad po ang buhay ko, ng pamilya ko at lahat ng mga miyembro dahil po sa ABS-CBN. Kaya po nangangamba ang lahat na kung sakaling hindi mabibigyan ng prangkisa ang ABS-CBN (Our lives improved with ABS-CBN that’s why we’re worried about our situation once the ABS-CBN loses its franchise),” noted John Villanueva, president of the ABS-CBN Rank and File Employees’ Union.

“Sa tingin ko kasi even ang ibang istasyon ay puno na rin po ng manggagawa. Mahihirapan na rin po kaming kumuha ng ibang trabaho sa ibang kompanya, (I believe other stations no longer have vacancies. In that case, it would be a struggle for us to seek employment from other companies,)” he added.

Despite his support for President Rodrigo Duterte, Senator Bong Go said he will appeal the employees’ plight to the Chief Executive as he is also concerned about their employment.

“I will appeal to the president for the simple reason na ayaw kong may mawalan ng trabaho (that I do not want them to lose their jobs,)” the President’s former aide said. – MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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.

NTC supports proposed measure on non-expiration of franchise pending renewal

Marje Pelayo   •   May 28, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has expressed support on a proposed measure seeking the non-expiration of franchises with renewal applications pending in Congress.

Senate Bill Number 1530 filed by Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon aims to include franchise in Book 7 Chapter 3 Section 18 of the Administrative Code of the Philippines which states that an existing license of a licensee who has made a timely and sufficient renewal application shall not expire until the application has been finally determined.

During the Committee hearing on Thursday (May 27), the NTC said the measure will fill in the gap in the law, noting that it is following Republic Act 3846 or the ‘Radio Control Law’ which provides that no person or firm can operate a radio station without having first obtained a congressional franchise.

“Malaking bagay po ito para po ma-fix ang gap sa batas para po kapag may pending matters ay ito po ay mai-consider na buhay pa [This will help fill the gap in the law to consider a franchise as valid while matters are pending],” explained NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba.

However, the Commission said that it never issued provisional franchises to stations with expired franchises but with pending renewal applications in Congress and just allowed them to continue operating.

Cordoba said what makes the case of ABS-CBN different from others that they had to issue a cease and desist order, was the quo warranto petition filed against the media giant.

He added that they have issued such orders before but only to radio stations who illegally operated during the 2019 elections.

“The difference from those instances on the ABS-CBN issue is that (with) ABS-CBN, a case for quo warranto was actually filed by the solicitor general. Kaya po medyo naging [That’s why it became] untenable on our part to let it continue because of the clear letter of the law in the Republic Act 3846,” Cordoba said.

However, Senator Drilon believes there has been an inconsistency on the part of the NTC in exercising its power in issuing cease and desist orders.

“At the very least, it appears that there is an inconsistency in exercising power (inaudible) in equal protection of the law,” the Senate Minority leader said.

“This is precisely a remedial legislation that we have introduced so that this kind of gap can be addressed,” he concluded. MNP (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

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