TV5 executives on Monday formally filed a complaint against Sky Cable before the National Telecommunications Commission, accusing the ABSCBN-owned cable operator of refusing to air Aksyon TV, the free-to-air, 24-hour sports and news channel of the TV5 Network.
TV5 President Ray C. Espinosa said Sky Cable’s refusal to air and allot a channel to Aksyon TV on its cable operations amounts to unfair competition, and violates NTC rules on the treatment of free-to-air content. The NTC’s Memorandum Circular 4-08-88, referred to as the “must-carry-rule”, requires cable networks to accommodate free-to-air channels, as access to the same redounds to the rights and privileges of television consumers.
Espinosa noted that this is not the first time ABSCBN has been confronted on its flouting of the must-carry-rule. In 2003, the television network demanded that Dream Cable, a competitor to Sky Cable, pay for Dream’s inclusion of ABS-CBN’s Channel 2 content on its program lineup. This despite Channel 2’s being a free-to-air station, and being included under the same must-carry-rule being invoked by TV5. The case of Dream was elevated all the way to the Supreme Court, where Dream’s position was ultimately upheld.