Philippines watchdog halts broadcaster's digital TV, satellite services

ABS-CBN had turned to digital, cable and satellite and social media to continue broadcasting.
ABS-CBN had turned to digital, cable and satellite and social media to continue broadcasting.PHOTO: AFP

MANILA (REUTERS) - The Philippines' telecommunications watchdog on Tuesday (June 30) ordered the country's top broadcaster, ABS-CBN, to stop airing its shows on satellite and digital television just weeks after shutting the company's free TV and radio operations.

The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) ordered Sky Cable, an ABS-CBN subsidiary and the largest cable company in the country, to "immediately cease and desist" its direct-to-home satellite transmission. NTC also directed the broadcaster to stop airing on digital television.

The regulator had already told ABS-CBN to shut down its free television and radio as its franchise expired and a Parliament dominated by President Rodrigo Duterte's allies dragged its feet over its licence renewal.

ABS-CBN had turned to digital, cable and satellite and social media to continue broadcasting.

ABS-CBN CEO Carlo Katigbak on Tuesday appealed to lawmakers to allow the company to continue operations while the Congress deliberates its franchise. Its digital and satellite services reach 11 million homes or some 55 million people, or half of the country's population, he said.

ABS-CBN has faced uncertainty for several years because of Mr Duterte's repeated threats to thwart its licence renewal bid, which stems from the broadcaster's failure to air some of his paid election campaign commercials, for which it recently apologised.

The 66-year-old entertainment and media conglomerate, which employs 11,000 people, said its programmes can still be viewed on social media, YouTube and its mobile application.