NTC Suspends SMNI for Violations in Franchise

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Manila, Philippines: In a recent ruling, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has ordered the suspension of Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI), also known as Swara Sug Media Corporation, for violating its franchise. The NTC’s decision comes after the House of Representatives declared that SMNI had violated several provisions of its legislative franchise.

The NTC, acknowledging the authority of the House of Representatives over matters related to the grant, amendment, extension, or revocation of franchises, found good cause to suspend SMNI’s operations for a period of 30 days. This suspension is in accordance with section 16 of the Public Service Act. Former presidential chief legal counsel Salvador Panelo read the NTC’s ruling, which was streamed on Totoong Boses ng Bayan.

The NTC received a copy of House Resolution No. 189 on December 12, 2023, urging the commission to suspend the operation of SMNI. The resolution cited violations of the terms and conditions of SMNI’s franchise under Republic Act (RA) 11422, which was adopted by the House of Representatives on December 11, 2023. Panelo quoted from the document, highlighting SMNI’s violations of three provisions in RA 11422.

The first violation pertains to Section 4, which outlines SMNI’s responsibility to the public. The NTC found that SMNI had deliberately spread false information, contravening this provision. The second violation relates to Section 10, which addresses the sale, lease, transfer, grant of usufruct, or assignment of the franchise. The third violation concerns Section 11, which deals with the dispersal of ownership.

As a result of these violations, the NTC issued an 8-page ruling, ordering SMNI to show cause and explain in writing within 15 days why it should not face sanctions for its franchise violations. Additionally, SMNI has been instructed to attend an administrative hearing on January 4, 2024, at 10 a.m. to address the issue.

This recent suspension is not the first setback for SMNI. Earlier this week, the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board suspended two of its shows, Laban Para sa Bayan and Gikan sa Masa, Para Sa Masa. These shows, hosted by former president Rodrigo Duterte, have faced criticism and have added to the network’s troubles.

It is important to note that the suspension of SMNI’s operations raises questions about the network’s compliance with its franchise obligations. The NTC’s decision highlights the significance of adhering to the terms and conditions set forth in legislative franchises. By taking action against SMNI, the NTC aims to ensure that media organizations fulfill their responsibilities to the public and maintain the integrity of the broadcasting industry.

As the administrative hearing approaches, all eyes will be on SMNI as it presents its case and addresses the allegations of franchise violations. The outcome of this hearing will not only impact SMNI’s future operations but also serve as a reminder to other media networks of the importance of upholding their franchise obligations.

In conclusion, the NTC’s suspension of Sonshine Media Network International reflects the commission’s commitment to enforcing the provisions of legislative franchises. By holding SMNI accountable for its violations, the NTC aims to maintain the integrity and trustworthiness of the broadcasting industry in the Philippines. The upcoming administrative hearing will provide an opportunity for SMNI to present its defense and shed light on the allegations raised against the network.

Source: The Manila Times

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