Senate probe into ABS-CBN's alleged violations sought

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
Senate probe into ABS-CBN's alleged violations sought
A man attends a protest in support of broadcaster ABS-CBN in Manila on February 10, 2020. Philippine government lawyers moved on February 10 to strip the nation's biggest media group of its operating franchise in what campaigners branded a fresh attack on press freedom under President Rodrigo Duterte.
AFP / Ted Aljibe

MANILA, Philippines — As ABS-CBN bats for the renewal of their franchise at the Congress a month before its expiry, Sen. Grace Poe sought a legislative inquiry into supposed violations of the broadcasting company.

Poe filed Senate resolution No. 322 directing the Senate Committee on Public Services, which she leads, to look into the operations of ABS-CBN Corporation and its compliance with its franchise law, Republic Act 7966.

Poe cited Solicitor General Jose Calida’s quo warranto petition against the network giant before the Supreme Court filed Monday.

“A month before its expiration, on 10 February 2020, a quo warranto case was filed against the grantee, ABS-CBN Corporation, on its alleged violations in its legislative franchise, ultimately seeking the revocation of the same,” she said.

Calida, in his plea, said ABS-CBN operates its KBO Channel without permit from the National Telecommunications Commission.

He also said that the company issued Philippine Deposit Receipts—tools that allows foreign investors a passive economic interest in a Philippine company—that violates foreign ownership restriction on mass media.

The solicitor general also said Convergence, ABS-CBN’s subsidiary, uses Multi-Media Telephony’s franchise without approval from Congress.

Poe noted that the broadcast giant denied the accusations of Calida and said that they are not violating any laws.

EXPLAINER: Calida cites 'transcendental importance' in case vs ABS-CBN: What is it?

However, the senator noted that RA 7966 provides that the franchise “shall be subject to amendment, alteration or repeal by the Congress of the Philippines when the public interest so requires.”

“[T]he power to amend, alter, or repeal is corollary to the power to review the compliance of a grantee with the terms and conditions of its franchise,” she added.

Quo warranto plea

The SC, in a full court session Tuesday, ordered ABS-CBN to answer Calida’s allegations.

The tribunal however did not issue a temporary restraining order against KBO—one of Calida’s prayers in the quo warranto plea—in its February 11 session.

EXPLAINER: Calida says ABS-CBN's KBO service illegal, but network says it has permits

At the House of Representatives, there are at least eight bills filed seeking the renewal of the broadcast company’s legislative franchise.

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As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: May 23, 2023 - 1:36pm

ABS-CBN Corp. stopped broadcasting on its TV and radio stations on May 5, 2020 after the National Telecommunications Commission issued a cease and desist order. The network's franchise had lapsed on May 4 without action by the House of Representatives.

May 23, 2023 - 1:36pm

ABS-CBN announces that it will cease operations of TeleRadyo, which has been in the red since 2020, by June 30.

August 11, 2022 - 9:37am

In a disclosure, ABS confirms signing of deal that sees the broadcast giant enter into a joint venture with MVP's TV5. — Ramon Royandoyan


January 27, 2021 - 3:35pm

Rep. Mike Defensor (Anakalusugan Party-list) attempts to put the ABS-CBN franchise up for a vote in the plenary, saying it should be taken up as it is in the House's unfinished business.

The House rejects his motion, but he appeals this. House leaders later on commit to begin tackling its unfinished business beginning Monday. —  Xave Gregorio

January 18, 2021 - 3:38pm

Rep. Vilma Santos-Recto (Batangas) has filed a bill seeking the renewal of the franchise granted to broadcast giant ABS-CBN.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III earlier filed a similar bill at the Senate, saying a majority of Filipinos get their news primarily from TV. 

Franchise bills emanate from the House of Representatives.

January 5, 2021 - 8:00pm

Malacañang is leaving it up to Congress to decide on the new bill seeking to renew the franchise of television network ABS-CBN, which was forced to lay off thousands of workers after its franchise expired last May. 

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque disagreed, saying the fate of the bill depends on lawmakers. 

"Well, again, I beg to differ; that is a sole constitutional prerogative of Congress which must originate from the House of Representatives," Roque says at a press briefing. —  Alexis Romero

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