NTC: No violation in ABS-CBN's airing of multiple channels in digital television service

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 29) - The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) said Monday there is nothing illegal with ABS-CBN’s airing of multiple programs on one channel through its digital television service, TV Plus.

“Insofar as 6 programs in 1 channel is concerned, okay po ‘yun (it’s okay),” said NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba during the continuation of the hearings on the television giant’s franchise at the House of Representatives.

The NTC explained that in digital television, broadcasting companies are entitled to a frequency of 6 megahertz, allowing them to broadcast up to six programs in one frequency. This counters the claim of a group of cable operators who insists that ABS-CBN should be operating under one franchise per channel.

“Ang characteristic ng digital TV, ang kanyang compression ay very efficient. Nakakapag-produce siya ng five to six programs na standard definition (The characteristic of digital TV is that its compression is very efficient. It can produce five to six programs that are of standard definition). Still one channel, but multiple programs,” said Cordoba.

READ: Nothing illegal with ABS-CBN's digital television service, says expert

Meanwhile, AKO-Bicol Partylist Rep. Alfredo Garbin asked the NTC if there were any violations under the previous 25-year franchise granted to the network when it comes to airing multiple programs.

The NTC said Congress may have not anticipated the advent of digital television given that the franchise was granted in 1995.

“Noong time na in-issue yun, parang wala pang digital TV. So baka hindi ‘yun na-foresee ng Republic Act 7966,” said Cordoba.

[Translation: When it was issued, there was no digital TV yet. So, perhaps Republic Act 7966 was not able to foresee it.]

The NTC added that there is nothing wrong as well with the marketing of setup boxes like ABS-CBN’ TV Plus.


Garbin also questioned the legality of the pay-per-view services of TV Plus.

The NTC quickly pointed out that it asked the network to defer from offering such service in the absence of implementing rules and regulations.

“Nilagay namin sa provisional authority ng ABS-CBN, doon po sa digital TV, na wala munang encryption or conditional access, ito po ‘yung pay-per-view,” said Cordoba.

[Translation: We stated in the provisional authority of ABS-CBN, for the digital TV, that there should be no encryption or conditional access, referring to the pay-per-view service.]

“In the meantime po, wala pa po kaming in-issue [rules and regulations], so dapat po sana si ABS-CBN ay naghintay at di nag-offer ng pay-per-view sa public,” he added.

[Translation: In the meantime, we have not yet issued anything, so ABS-CBN should have waited first before offering its pay-per-view service to the public.]