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Crackdown on illegal radio stations pushed

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By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

The Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) and the National Telecommunications Communication (NTC) are stepping up efforts to fight the expected surge of illegal broadcast stations across the country in view of the coming midterm elections.

“This is year 2018 and there’s usually a proliferation of illegal broadcast stations leading to election day in May next year,” said Erwin V. Galang, head of the technical committee and trustee of the KBP.

In a statement, KBP said it is again teaming up with the NTC in ensuring that such illegal stations do not operate.

Under its mandate, the NTC initiates administrative cases with cease-and-desist orders and show-cause orders against illegal broadcast stations, which historically represent bulk of the administrative cases with the regulatory body.

According to Deputy Commissioner Edgardo Cabarios, the NTC’s previous cooperation and coordination with the KBP has led to the crackdown of fly-by-night broadcast stations, mostly in the provinces, who had victimized unsuspecting candidates to buy airtime for their political advertisements. These illegal broadcasters usually disappear after they received payment for the political ads.

“Historically, we can see a steep increase in the number of cases in broadcast services in relation to unlicensed broadcasts leading to the election campaign period. What we do is we immediately issue cease-and-desist and show-cause orders against these illegal operators, forcing them to shut down their stations, while others simply disappear,” Cabarios said.

Based on the 2017 report of the Commission on Audit (COA), there were 2,054 broadcast services division cases recorded by the NTC. Except for a few cases, the administrative complaints were initiated by the NTC itself motu propio for violations against erring radio stations.

Auditor Ma. Jocelyn Factora, COA’s 2017 resident auditor in the NTC, confirmed that almost all pending administrative cases represented cases filed by NTC against illegal broadcast stations, and not cases from telco consumers. “The pending telco-related cases from consumers are very minimal.”

As of 31 December 2017, there are only 148 telco consumer cases pending before the NTC’s Legal Office which are now subject of review and resolution.

“With our partnership with the KBP, we are optimistic that we can curb the proliferation of unlicensed broadcast stations which interfere with the broadcast of legitimate stations,” Cabarios said.

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