Duterte clears franchise of Cignal TV, four others

Duterte clears franchise of Cignal TV, four others

PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte has approved the franchise bids of five broadcast stations, including a direct-to-home (DTH) satellite provider established in the 2000s.

Mr. Duterte, on March 29, signed laws extending the franchise of Franciscan Broadcasting Corp., Soundstream Broadcasting Corp., National Broadcasting Corp., Real Radio Network, Inc., and Cignal TV, Inc. for another 25 years.

Cignal TV was established in 2009 and is “currently the country’s premier DTH satellite provider,” according to a website post. The broadcast firm said it transmits 134 channels including free-to-air, HD (high definition) and SD (standard definition) channels to household and commercial venues nationwide.

“It also offers a mix of 17 audio channels and on-demand service through pay-per-view channels,” said the broadcast firm, which is a subsidiary of MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., the media partner of the PLDT group of companies.

Under the law, the firms are given the privilege to construct, install, establish, operate and maintain radio broadcasting stations anywhere in the country where frequencies or channels are still available for radio broadcasting.

They must secure permits from the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) for the construction and operation of their stations or facilities. According to the law, the NTC must not “unreasonably” delay or withhold the granting of necessary permits.

The law allows the NTC to revoke or suspend, following due process, the permits or licenses of the grantees violating franchise provisions. It is also given the authority to recommend to Congress the revocation of erring franchises.

Under the law, the franchise will be deemed revoked in the event holders fail to operate for two consecutive years.

The law also gives the Philippine president a “special right” to temporarily take over and operate the stations or facilities of franchise holders “in times of war, rebellion, public peril, calamity, emergency, disaster, or disturbance of peace and order” and suspend the operation of any station “in the interest of public safety, security, and public welfare.”

Grantees, meanwhile, are required to submit to Congress an annual report on their compliance with the terms and conditions of the franchise and its operations.

Also on March 29, Mr. Duterte signed a law allowing a southern Mindanao university to construct, operate, and maintain radio broadcasting stations in the province of Cotabato in southern Philippines for educational and other related purposes.

The President also signed a law authorizing Iriga Telephone Co. Inc. to construct, install, operate, and maintain wired and wireless telecommunications systems, fiber optics, and all other telecommunication system technologies in the province of Camarines Sur and its cities for commercial and other purposes. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza