‘It’s like May 5 again’: Kapamilya talents, journos air frustration over ban on Sky Cable Direct, TVPlus

July 1, 2020 - 7:18 PM
A media crew cab enters the ABS-CBN Broadcasting Center, the office of the country's top broadcast network, following a move by the Philippine government to scrap its franchises, in Quezon City
A media crew cab enters the ABS-CBN Broadcasting Center, the office of the country's top broadcast network, following a move by the Philippine government to scrap its franchises, in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines, February 10, 2020. (Reuters/Eloisa Lopez)

Actress Liza Soberano, Regine Velasquez and DZMM and MOR radio jock Czarina Balba, popularly known as DJ Chacha, joined other personalities who expressed dissent against the new ban on their home network’s satellite and digital television transmissions.

In an order on June 30, the National Telecommunications Commission ordered Sky Cable Corporation, an ABS-CBN subsidiary and the largest cable company in the country, to immediately cease the operations of its direct-to-home satellite transmission.

NTC cited the expiration of its own franchise provided by Republic Act 7969 as the basis for the order.

The commission also instructed the broadcast giant to stop airing its digital television or TV Plus set-up boxes via AMCARA Broadcasting Network or Channel 43 in Metro Manila.

Channel 43 carries the following television channel offerings: Teleradyo, Jeepney TV, Yey!, Asianovela Channel, CineMo and KBO.

State regulators said that these channels were supposed to be among the radio and television stations that should’ve stopped operating on May 5.

The country’s largest network signed off the air, which was the first time since 1972, in the evening of that day following NTC’s cease and desist order because its 25-year franchise had already lapsed.

ABS-CBN said it would comply and announced that it will stop the digital TV transmission of its TV Plus channels CineMo, Yey, TeleRadyo, Jeepney TV, Asianovela Channel, and KBO in all other areas outside Metro Manila starting Wednesday evening.

Another round of disappointment

Following the new directive, several personalities and journalists aired their disappointment and opposition anew to the closure of ABS-CBN’s other broadcasting services, which millions of Filipinos depend on for news, education and entertainment.

In a series of tweets on June 30, Soberano questioned the government for supposedly prioritizing ABS-CBN services’ ban over helping Filipinos during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“How come there’s so much time being spent on bringing ABS-CBN down but little to no time figuring out ways to help our kababayans who are struggling during this pandemic, kasi naka GCQ parin tayo?” she said.

“No words for these heartless people,” she said in a separate tweet.

Screenshot by Interaksyon

DJ Chacha also aired on Twitter her ire against the lawmakers supposedly behind NTC’s decisions to shutdown ABS-CBN and its other properties.

In one of her posts, the DJ sent encouraging words to her fellow Kapamilyas.

“To my fellow Kapamilyas, Hugs. Matatapos lahat ito. Hindi habang buhay nasa posisyon ang mga yan. The Lord will always make a way,” she said.

For 2019 Bar topnotcher Mae Diane Azores, the new ban was a result of “power tripping.”

“Their ego was so hurt by ABS-CBN’s ingenuity that they had to resort to power tripping,” Azores said.

Other celebrities who also voiced out their sentiments against the tragic turn of events include Ria Atayde, Juan Miguel Severo, Velasquez and Maria Carmela Brosas, popularly known as “K Brosas.”

ANC News anchor Tony Velasquez, meanwhile, questioned the NTC’s sudden move to close ABS-CBN’s digital television.

“Mula pa noong inilunsad ang TV Plus sa year 2015, walang reklamo ang NTC, sa kabila ng mainit na pagsalubong ng mga manonood sa bagong serbisyo’t teknolohiyang ito,” Tony said.

“Pero dahil ‘neutral’ ang Haring Mother, pilit itong ipinasara. Talangka you very much, Shiny Mothers y’all,” he added.

Hashtags related to the ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal, along with the names “TV Plus,” “Sky Cable,” and “Sky Direct” trended anew on local Twitter on Wednesday.

Screenshot by Interaksyon
Screenshot by Interaksyon

Impact of the situation

In a statement on Facebook, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines stressed that the closure of TV Plus and Sky Direct deprives millions of Filipinos sources of information and entertainment.

“It is clear that the end goal of this administration is not only to shut down ABS-CBN but to send a message throughout the media industry that other news organizations may face the same fate unless they surrender their watchdog role, the critical and independent reportage that is an essential part of the media’s mission,” its statement read.

[Statement] Resist the Cease and Desist Order of NTCThe service of two cease and desist orders by the National…

Posted by National Union of Journalists of the Philippines on Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Sky Cable likewise stated that the same consequences for its 1.5 million subscribers nationwide, including those in remote areas.

It urged the state regulators and the lawmakers to allow them to operate until a resolution to renew its franchise is passed in Congress.

Aside from names in the entertainment industry, ABS-CBN’s journalists and TV hosts have also expressed their frustrations and disappointment over NTC’s decision on their social media accounts.

These include Chiara Zambrano, Karen Davila, Jeff Canoy and Mike Navallo, among others.

Jacque Manabat shared a video clip of her daily coverage during the pandemic. She captioned it with: “Tuloy ang trabaho. Tuloy ang serbisyo. #LabanKapamilya.”

Bianca Gonzales, meanwhile, shared a photo of “No Signal,” which was similar to ABS-CBN’s channels when the network went off the air.

“Yung naramdaman ko nung May 5, naramdaman ko ulit,” she said.