NTC orders recall of ABS-CBN's frequencies, channels in absence of legislative franchise

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 10) - The National Telecommunications Commissions (NTC) has issued an order recalling all the frequencies or channels assigned to ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation, exactly two months after lawmakers denied the network of a fresh franchise.

The commission cited Republic Act No. 3846 or the Radio Control Law, which provides that no one can operate a radio broadcasting station without obtaining a franchise from Congress.

In an overwhelming 70-11 vote, the House Committee on Legislative Franchise has denied the broadcasting giant another 25 years to operate last July 10.

Moreover, the NTC also cited Supreme Court’s dismissal of ABS-CBN's petition against the cease and desist order issued by commission, which forced the broadcasting network to go off-air in May.

“Indubitably, the denial of respondent’s [ABS-CBN] franchise renewal application by Congress, coupled with the denial of respondent’s petition by the Supreme Court, lead to no other conclusion except that respondent had already lost the privilege of installing, operating and maintaining radio broadcasting stations in the country,” said the NTC.

“Consequentially, absent a valid legislative franchise, the recall of the frequencies assigned to respondent is warranted,” it added.

The order also revokes all the provisional authorities or certificates of public convenience granted to ABS-CBN.

In addition, all the pending applications and petitions filed by ABS-CBN before NTC are also dismissed.

Critics believe that the ABS-CBN shutdown is an attack on press freedom since the network has become a subject of ire of President Rodrigo Duterte for its documententation of the administration's controversial war on drugs.

Duterte had also publicly hit ABS-CBN for failing to air his campaign during the 2016 national elections.

The shutdown has led to massive retrenchment of workers, including some veteran journalists.

Since the network went off-air, the former media giant has been utilizing its online platforms in broadcasting its shows.

CNN Philippines' correspondent Rex Remitio contributed to this report