Sky Cable, CATV Ordered by Court to Restore GMA 7 on Previous Channel

The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has issued an order to Central CATV, which co-owns Sky and Home Cable of the Lopez Group, to broadcast GMA Network on channel 12 of its system after moving it to 14.

The NTC order was issued after GMA Network Inc. through its counsel, Atty. Roberto Rafael V. Lucila, requested an investigation in February 2003 after the top cable operator in the country moved GMA to channel 14 from it’s original channel 12 position. GMA was compelled to file an official complaint after the network received feedbacks from televiewers that the signal of Kapuso channel became weaker when it was moved to channel 14.

Central CATV, on the other hand, filed an appeal contesting a government order instructing it to transmit channel 7 on cable TV channel 12, after moving it to 14. The order was issued by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC).

In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE), GMA Network Inc., which broadcasts on free airwaves through channel 7, said that the appeal of Central CATV “was dismissed for lack of merit” by the Court of Appeals.

In April 2003, the NTC “ruled that Central CATV violated the provisions of Memorandum Circular No. 4-08-88 when it unilaterally rechanneled the positions of free-to-air TV channels without securing the approval of NTC,” GMA Network said.

The circular is also known as the Revised Rules and Regulations Governing Cable Television Systems in the Philippines.

GMA Network said it “questioned the arbitrary re-channeling of Channel 7 by Sky Cable because Sky Cable does not have the right to change the channel assignments of free-to-air TV stations without the approval of the TV stations and the NTC.”

“The unilateral and arbitrary re-channeling of free-to-air TV stations on cable will cause confusion among viewers,” GMA Network Inc., the Philippines’ leading network said.

Sky Cable was also ordered “to carry the free-to-air television signal on its CATV system on the channel number at which the station is transmitting, except when technically unfeasible, in which case it shall be assigned the next nearest channel which does not cause interference,” the disclosure said.

The cable operator was also told to “faithfully and strictly comply with the provisions of the said circular and to cease from arbitrarily changing channel assignments without advance written notice to the TV stations, the public, and the approval of the NTC.”

Sky Cable is a subsidiary of ABS-CBN, a rival of GMA Network.

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