SMNI seeks court intervention to halt NTC’s indefinite suspension order enforcement

Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI) anchors and reporters appealed to the Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday, Jan. 30, in a bid to halt the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) from enforcing the indefinite suspension of its operations. They urgently requested the SC to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) to immediately stop the suspension order issued by the NTC to Swara Sug Media Corporation, the business name of SMNI, on Jan. 18.

The NTC had previously issued a 30-day suspension of SMNI’s operations on Dec. 21, before escalating it to an indefinite suspension. In response, SMNI filed a 45-page petition to contest the NTC’s decision, claiming that the indefinite suspension amounted to censorship without legal basis.

The suspension was based on a House of Representative’s resolution alleging that SMNI violated the terms and conditions of its franchise, specifically the provision that prohibits the network from using its stations or facilities to propagate false information. This resolution was prompted by claims made by Jeffrey Celiz, one of the hosts of SMNI’s “Laban Kasama ng Bayan,” stating that House Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez’s travel expenses reached P1.8 billion.

In their petition, SMNI argued that the NTC orders were content-based restrictions and were directed at SMNI alone, based on findings from a previous investigation, which scrutinized SMNI’s operations and broadcast content. They maintained that the NTC has no authority to revoke an existing franchise, as that prerogative lies with the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) through a court case to cancel a franchise.

SMNI reporters also stressed their right to report on matters of public interest, asserting that the suspension of their operations was an unjust restriction. The petition was signed by lawyer Herminio Harry L. Roque.

The appeal to the SC marks the latest development in the ongoing dispute between SMNI and the NTC, underscoring the network’s determination to challenge the indefinite suspension of their operations through legal avenues.

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