The president of the Philippine Cable Television Association (PCTA) came to ABS-CBN’s defense on Thursday and debunked claims by a smaller lobby group that the shuttered TV network had committed violations of the terms of its franchise.

PCTA President Ronaldo Manlapig told ABS-CBN News Channel’s Karen Davila it was not true that the TV network had to secure a congressional franchise for each TV channel it had.

“May mandato ang gobyerno ngayon through the Department of Information and Communications Technology, para mag-migrate tayo from analog to digital,” he said.

Broadcast franchises pertain to the use of frequencies, Manlapig clarified.

A six-megahertz frequency may have accommodated one analog TV channel before, but can now be used for up to six digital channels depending on digital compression, whether standard definition or high definition, he said.

The “digital switchover” is supposed to be completed by 2022, Manlapig said.

In an interview on GMA Network’s 24 Oras on Tuesday, Estrellita Juliano-Tamano, Mindanao-based chairperson of the Federation of International Cable TV and Telecommunications Association of the Philippines (Fictap), claimed ABS-CBN changed its franchise application to be able to offer several channels for one franchise.

Manlapig said the Philippines could not afford to stay on analog systems, as the rest of the world had switched to digital.

“Matagal na dapat tayong lumipat sa digital…kaming mga cable operators right now, marami sa amin ngayon ang naka-digital,” he said.

As regards Tamano’s claim that ABS-CBN cannot charge viewers for premium channels on its “TV Plus” set-top box or pay-per-view shows such as Manny Pacquiao boxing matches, the NTC should be issuing rules on the matter.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra told lawmakers in March that the provision allowing “commercial purposes” on the ABS-CBN franchise could be interpreted broadly to mean earning revenues apart from advertising.

Founded in 1987, PCTA has 360 regular members and 32 affiliate members covering 75 percent of all cable TV subscribers in the Philippines.

On its website, Fictap claims to be the largest non-profit organization of cable TV operators, with 1,000 members composed of “small and medium cable enterprises that have embraced the expansion from delivering traditional cable TV into telecommunications and value-added services.” (