Days after being forced by the government to stop its broadcast on Philippine airwaves, ABS-CBN’s flagship news program TV Patrol made its comeback on the company’s digital platforms—and as made apparent by millions of views, Filipinos on the internet tuned in.
The rather clever loophole (digital broadcasts don’t need a Congressional license) made the show a big hit, and it raked in nearly 9 million views on Facebook and YouTube combined. Noli de Castro, one of the show’s anchors, said last night that the program will continue airing in the company’s various platforms.
“While we may not air on Channel 2 and at DZMM Teleradyo for now, you can still watch us on ANC, the ABS-CBN News Channel, and at The Filipino Channel [TFC], and TFC Online in the U.S., Canada, Middle East, Europe, Australia, and Asia,” De Castro said in Filipino.
“We’re also streaming live on our news website news.abs-cbn.com, as well as on [the network’s] Facebook and YouTube. You can also watch us on the mobile website of [streaming platform] iWant and ABS-CBN News,” the anchor added.
Fans of the program left messages of support on Facebook, with people like Timay Plagata saying, “We love ABS-CBN. Happy to see you here [o]n Facebook. Looking forward for your comeback.”
Another netizen named Joe Marie Barrameda Molod said, “Everyday I still open Ch[annel] 2 & DZMM hoping that it’s back to normal.”
The station’s forced shutdown took its 42 TV stations as well as 23 FM and AM radio stations off air on May 5, including flagship TV station Channel 2 and radio station DZMM, after the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) ordered the media company to stop broadcast due to its expired franchise license.
The NTC had earlier promised to give the station a provisional license to operate after Congress failed to renew the company’s broadcasting franchise. However, Solicitor General Jose Calida warned the NTC that issuing the said temporary license is unconstitutional.
Meanwhile, ABS-CBN yesterday asked the Supreme Court for a temporary restraining order, to lift the order imposed by the NTC.
“The public needs the services of ABS-CBN now more than ever, as the country grapples with the effects of COVID-19,” the media network said in its 46-page petition.
House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano today meanwhile, called out the NTC and the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) for allegedly meddling with Congress’ authority after NTC ordered the shut down of the media giant.
“Last Tuesday we were all ambushed by the NTC. Despite their assurance given under oath, the legal opinion of the Department of Justice, a resolution from the Senate, and several verbal and written assurances given to Congress…the NTC appears to have succumbed to pressure from the Solicitor General, and issued a cease and desist order to ABS-CBN,” Cayetano said in a statement.
Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra has said repeatedly that allowing a registered company to operate while waiting for the House of Representatives to grant its franchise renewal is not illegal. Guevarra told TV Patrol before it went off the air on Tuesday that he had already advised NTC on the matter.
Cayetano, who had earlier publicly voiced that he has “personal objections” about renewing ABS-CBN’s franchise, appeared to have a change of heart, vowing that NTC’s flip-flopping and Calida’s meddling on the franchise will be dealt with accordingly.
“To our critics, in and outside of the House, you are free to say what you will. As we are free to respond in our own way. As for the sudden flip-flopping of the NTC and the unconstitutional meddling by the Solicitor General in the business of Congress, I promise you—there will be a reckoning,” Cayetano added.