NTC stops broadcasts of Sky Direct, ABS-CBN's TV Plus channels in Metro Manila

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 30) — The National Telecommunications Commission issued ​an order on Tuesday ​stopping ABS-CBN's broadcasts of its TV Plus channels in Metro Manila as well as the services of Sky Direct, another Lopez-owned company.

According to the NTC, the franchise of Sky Direct's parent Sky Cable Corporation also expired on May 4, along with that of media giant ABS-CBN. ​The Kapamilya network was earlier ordered to shut down ​broadcasts and remains off their usual channels for nearly two months now.

“Upon the expiration of R.A. No. 7969, Sky Cable Corporation no longer has a valid and subsisting congressional franchise to install, operate, or maintain a Direct Broadcast Satellite Service,” the order read.

Sky Cable was asked to respond within ten days from receipt of the order.

“SKY Direct’s 1.5 million subscribers nationwide, including those in remote areas that do not receive television signals, will be deprived of access to the channels we carry that bring them news, information, education, and entertainment,” the company said in a statement.

Subscribers of Sky Cable and Sky Fiber internet services will not be affected, the company added.

In 2015, ​Sky Direct received a provisional authority from the NTC to offer direct-to-home broadcast services using satellite dishes and plug-in boxes to pick up broadcast signals. That authority was extended to June 23, 2021. However, the regulator said their services cannot continue with the expiration of Sky Cable's legislative franchise.

The company was also required to refund its subscribers of all the amounts representing unconsumed prepaid, deposits on subscriber equipment and devices, deposit or advance payment in monthly charges for postpaid subscribers.

The NTC at the same time ordered ABS-CBN to cease and desist from operating digital television transmission through their TV Plus ​set-up boxes via Channel 43 in Metro Manila. 

AMCARA Broadcasting Network or Channel 43 is where ABS-CBN airs digital TV. ABS-CBN’s TV Plus offerings include CineMO!, Yey!, TeleRadyo, and pay-per-view channel KBO.

The NTC maintains that the channels were among the radio and television stations that were ordered to stop operating on May 5.

RELATED: 'Ripe' Ombudsman case seen vs NTC commissioner for allowing ABS-CBN digital programs to air after franchise expiry

In a House joint hearing Tuesday on legislative franchises and good government and public accountability, ABS-CBN President and CEO Carlo Katigbak appealed for the lifting of the new cease and desist order to keep their workers employed.

“We're not just asking for the renewal of the franchise. Sana po hindi na matuloy yung CDO (we hope for the CDO not to push through) because it also impacts our capability to keep people employed," Katigbak said.

ABS-CBN ran to the Supreme Court to stop NTC's halt order back in May, but justices have yet to decide on that petition.