Bukidnon wants tighter grip on radio stations

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/2 Sept) – The Bukidnon provincial board has considered passing an ordinance requiring local government units in the province not to issue business permits to radio stations if they failed to accredit with provincial officials.

Gov. Jose Ma. R. Zubiri Jr. said during Wednesday’s regular session that the province will require accreditation first to assess the compliance of applicants to requirements set by law.

Zubiri said they want to obtain copies of applicant’s documents submitted to the National Telecommunications Commission in Manila, such as the congressional franchise, if required.

This came after the NTC informed the provincial board of scheduled hearings in Manila in late August regarding the applications of three more FM stations in the province.

The board’s committee on engineering, public works, transportation, and communication initiated a hearing before the session but representatives of the three applicants and the NTC-10 regional director did not show up. The latter sent a representative, but he failed to satisfy the questions of the board members.

Board member Gordon Torres told MindaNews they will invite the NTC official again along with representatives from the applicants.

The provincial board has expressed its intention to the NTC for the postponement of the hearings pending local consultations.

It was agreed during the session that they will ask the NTC to hold hearings in Cagayan de Oro instead of Manila so the board members can fully participate.

One of the highlights of the Wednesday hearing was the statement of board member Ranulfo Pepito accusing the NTC of being “inutile” at the height of an alleged bogus radio station’s attack on the members of the Valencia City council in the run up to the May 2010 elections.

He clarified to MindaNews it was borne out of his frustration that the NTC failed to stop the radio station from its illegal operations.

The station was reported to have operated illegally and became subject of an NTC investigation.

Pepito said they did not intend to stifle press freedom.

“Only that it has to come with the responsibility, too,” he added.

Nonita Rosales, chair of the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP)-Bukidnon Chapter, told provincial board members they cannot disregard any application for more broadcast stations to operate in Bukidnon as long as they play fair: they comply with all requirements.

She said no law bars new entry of additional radio stations. Even the KBP could not stop them, she added.

Armando Benabaye, Love Radio Malaybalay station manager, also said KBP member stations consider free enterprise.

But he added they felt betrayed that there were radio stations allowed to air without license.

Three groups — Jose M. Luison and Sons, Inc. in Quezon town; Digital Broadcasting Corporation in Don Carlos, Bukidnon; and DXRA-Rizal Memorial Colleges Broadcasting Corporation in Valencia City — have applied for a Certificate of Public Convenience with the NTC.

Rosales and Benabaye spoke at the provincial board regular session in the light of their hearing in line with the application of the three.

Vice Gov. Jose Ma. R. Zubiri Jr., the provincial board’s presiding officer, called radio station managers in the province to consult them of the applications. The others did not show up. (Walter Balane / MindaNews)