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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

SMNI asks SC to stop NTC from enforcing indefinite suspension order

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Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI), led by its anchors and reporters, asked the Supreme Court on Tuesday, Jan. 30, to stop the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) from enforcing the indefinite suspension of its operations.

In a 45-page petition, SMNI pleaded the SC to issue a temporary restraining order that would stop immediately the suspension order issued by the NTC last Jan. 18 to Swara Sug Media Corporation, the business name of SMNI.

Last Dec. 21, the NTC had issued a 30-day suspension of SMNI’s operations.

SMNI, through lawyer Herminio Harry L. Roque, who signed the petition, stressed that the indefinite suspension is a form of censorship without legal basis.

The petitioners argued that the NTC order was based on a House of Representative’s resolution, which alleged that SMNI violated the terms and conditions of its franchise, particularly the provision that the network used its stations or facilities to propagate false information.

The House resolution was referring to claims by Jeffrey Celiz, one of the hosts of SMNI’s “Laban Kasama ng Bayan,” that House Speaker Martin Romualdez’s travel expenses reached P1.8 billion.

“The [NTC orders] are content-based restrictions on the operations of SMNI. They are directed to SMNI alone, and are based on findings from a previous investigation in which SMNI’s operations and the content of its broadcasts were scrutinized,” the petitioners said.

“Regardless of any purported objective if the effect is to shut down the broadcast operations of SMNI…, the assailed order must be scrutinized with a heavy presumption of unconstitutionality,” the petition stated.

SMNI also said that the NTC has no power to revoke an existing franchise since such prerogative is lodged with the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) through a case in court to cancel a franchise.

On the part of SMNI reporters, they asserted their right to report on matters of public interest as they pointed out that the suspension of their outfit is a form of undue restriction.

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