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NTC, KBP see possible violations in SMNI's claims on Speaker's travel expenses

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 1) — The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) and the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) saw possible violations committed by SMNI when one of its hosts claimed House Speaker Martin Romualdez spent ₱1.8 billion for his travels in just a year.

Both agencies attended a hearing by the House legislative franchises committee that tackled the allegation, which SMNI host Jeffrey «Ka Eric» Celiz raised during the network's program «Laban Kasama Ang Bayan.»

It was established during the inquiry that the information came from Celiz's source—a Senate employee.

House officials said the information was false, noting that from January to October this year, the chamber spent over ₱39 million for official trips, including ₱4 million for the Office of the Speaker.

READ: SMNI host says travel cost claim comes from Senate source

«There appear to be infractions, Mr. Chair, on certain provisions of the franchise, particularly the reference provision on Section 4 on the responsibility of the franchisee not to use the station or its facilities for the dissemination of willful or false information,» said NTC Deputy Commissioner Alvin Blanco.

The 25-year franchise renewal of SMNI, which is legally operating as Swara Sug Media Corp., was granted in August 2019 through Republic Act 11422.

Section 4 of the franchise provides the network's responsibility to the public, which includes that "[t]he grantee shall…not use its stations or facilities for the broadcasting of obscene or indecent language, speech, act, or scene; or for the dissemination of deliberately false information or willful misrepresentation, to the detriment of the public interest; or to incite, encourage, or assist in subversive or treasonable acts."

«It seems that SMNI is going in that direction where it is being used, the franchise is being used to attack individuals. Hindi 'yon ang mandato ninyo [That's not your mandate],» Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel said.

«It is very clear in section 4 that you should not disseminate fake news or unverified reports,» he added.

Unaccredited announcers on air a possible violation

During the hearing, SMNI's legal counsel