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
Senate probe into ABS-CBN's alleged violations sought
Kristine Joy Patag (Philstar.com) - February 13, 2020 - 9:58am

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.

ABS-CBN ABS-CBN FRANCHISE GRACE POE JOSE CALIDA PRESS FREEDOM SENATE
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: February 24, 2020 - 4:55pm

President Duterte threatens not to renew ABS-CBN's franchise, his latest in what critics call a string of verbal attacks against dissenting media.

February 24, 2020 - 4:55pm

STATEMENT ON THE SENATE HEARING ON ABS-CBN FRANCHISE ISSUES

We are very grateful for the opportunity given to us by the Senate to air our side and clarify issues about our franchise.

As we have heard today, ABS-CBN has not been cited for any violations with regard to tax payments, election laws, or compliance with the National Telecommunications Commission, and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Like many other companies that have been operating or providing services for a long time, we have pending issues associated with labor as well as other matters related to the regular course of doing business. We believe in due process and will comply, as we always have, with any decisions made by the proper authorities.

We continue to trust in the legal processes and the fairness in the hearings for our franchise renewal.

Thank you to everyone who showed support for us today. We hope for your continued support and prayers as we pursue the chance to continue providing meaningful and important service to the Filipino people. This is what we, and all employees of ABS-CBN, believe in.

PAHAYAG UKOL SA SENATE HEARING PATUNGKOL SA MGA ISYU NG PRANGKISA NG ABS-CBN

Maraming maraming salamat po sa pagkakataong ito.

Unang-una po, nagpapasalamat kami sa buong Senado para sa pagkakataong mapakinggan ang aming panig. Sana po ay nabigyang linaw ang ilan sa mga katanungan na matagal na pong tinatanong ng marami sa ating bayan.

Gaya ng inyong narinig, wala pong mga kasong nakasampa laban sa ABS-CBN kaugnay sa pagbabayad ng buwis at pagsunod sa election laws, National Telecommunications Commission, at Securities and Exchange Commission.

Tulad ng maraming mga kumpanya na matagal nang nagseserbisyo, mayroon kaming mga nakabinbing kaso kaugnay sa labor at iba pang isyu sa pagpapatakbo ng aming negosyo. Naniniwala kami sa due process, at tulad ng dati, susunod kami sa anumang desisyon ng mga kinauukulan. 

Nawa’y magtuloy-tuloy ang pagpapahalaga sa mga prosesong naayon sa ating mga batas. Nawa’y tuloy-tuloy na umiral ang makatarungang pagdinig ng aming franchise renewal.

Maraming salamat sa lahat ng sumuporta sa amin ngayong araw. Sana po, tuloy-tuloy ang inyong suporta at panalangin hindi lamang po para sa ating mga Kapamilya, pati na rin po para sa ating mga mambabatas at mga lider ng bansa.

Marami pong salamat.

February 21, 2020 - 9:40am

ABS-CBN President and CEO Carlo Katigbak asks for prayers as the network's legislative franchise expires next month.

In a video message, Katigbak said ABS-CBN does not see any reason why its franchise should not be renewed. He noted that future of the network is in the hands of lawmakers.

"Sa aming mga mambabatas, nasa inyong kamay po ang kinabukasan ng ABS-CBN. Nagtitiwala po kami sa sinasabi ninyo na mabibigyan kami ng pagkakataong sagutin ang mga katanungan ng mga mamamayan," Katigbak said.

(To our legislators, the future of ABS-CBN is in your hands. We trust in what you say that we will be given an opportunity to answer the people's questions.)

February 19, 2020 - 4:49pm

The Senate Committee on Public Services will hold a hearing on ABS-CBN's franchise next Monday, News5 reports.

Sen. Grace Poe, committee chair, filed a resolution last week to look into allegations that the network giant had violated its franchise. She said later in the week that the committee could hold hearings on the proposed renewal of ABS-CBN's franchise, which has been delayed at the House of Representatives, as well.

Poe said in a press conference that they can hear the proposal to extend the franchise of the network giant even if the House of Representatives has yet to transmit their version of the bill.

February 19, 2020 - 2:56pm

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines has handed over to Rep. Carlos Zarate (Bayan Muna party-list) thousands of signatures gathered in a campaign in support of the renewal of the franchise of network giant ABS-CBN.

The signature campaign was done online and at protests and vigils held every Friday in areas of Quezon City.

February 18, 2020 - 12:38pm

The Institute of Corporate Directors, Institute for Solidarity in Asia, the Makati Business Club, and the Management Association of the Philippines, in a joint statement, "fervently urge Congress to judiciously address any issues raised" against ABS-CBN Corp. while also "taking serious account of the bedrock issues of media freedom and free enterprise."

The four business groups also "express our strong support for a balanced, fair and timely consideration" of bills filed to renew the network's franchise.

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