Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano is on the warpath, blaming members of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) for the loss of ABS-CBN 2 on air. The NTC issued a Cease and Desist Order (CDO), effectively cutting ABS-CBN 2 on free television transmission. ABS-CBN 2’s franchise expired last May 4, 2020. A strict interpretation of the franchise law says it all—no bill, no franchise, hence, no airing on free television.
ABS-CBN 2 vows to fight this affront to its democratic rights to air. Lawyers of the network are now appealing to the Supreme Court for the NTC to lift its CDO. With nearly all members of the Supreme Court under Duterte’s spell, some legal eagles think it would not be easy for the station to get a favorable ruling. I think they are just reasoning politics, but the fact stays— the law on franchises is clear and unambiguous.
Cayetano’s highly publicized outrage is just a PR tactic to shift blame on others. It is a reaction to the highly negative feedback this NTC order caused when it released its order.
It is Congress who is supposed to issue a bill granting ABS-CBN 2 a franchise to air and operate. What did Cayetano do? He refused to expedite the process. Cayetano was even quoted as saying that ABS-CBN has to answer for several issues raised against its franchise application. Without any resolution, Cayetano says ABS-CBN has to suffer the consequences.
I believe ABS-CBN will just wait it out. It has announced that all its ABS-CBN shows are to be seen online, a tactic that remains an enigma for advertising agents to sell. While online spaces create multiple opportunities for advertisers, the obvious fact is, one cannot simply bombard an onsite space with tremendous amounts of advertisements since this will simply discourage viewerships.
Unlike shows aired on regular free television, online shows are still limited due to the fact that internet access is also constricted. Most Filipino media consumers are still heavily dependent on free television. Internet access has costs.
For sure, ABS-CBN 2 is now incurring millions of loss revenues and is likewise, thinking of how to answer for commitments made to advertisers and even to third parties, especially block timers who have paid for their programs for the entire year. Knowing how oligarchs think, these political personages responsible for trying to pin down the Lopezes to the ground would get their punishment probably not today but in the future.
ABS-CBN 2 must learn its lessons.