NTC to issue provisional authority to ABS-CBN

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
NTC to issue provisional authority to ABS-CBN
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra is one of the resource persons at the Senate inquiry into bills on ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal and the network’s supposed violations held February 24, 2020.
The STAR / Geremy Pintolo

MANILA, Philippines — National Telecommunications Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba at a hearing on Tuesday said that the commission intended to issue provisional authority to broadcast giant ABS-CBN despite concerns that this would only further exacerbate the network's plethora of legal troubles. 

This came as the House Legislative Franchise Committee, chaired by Rep. Franz Alvarez (Palawan), tackled ABS-CBN franchise renewal at Tuesday afternoon's hearing. 

Provisional authority allows the broadcast giant to continue operating while their franchise renewal is still pending in Congress. 

ABS-CBN Corporation's current legislative franchise, which was approved by virtue of Republic Act 7966, expires on May 4, 2020.

On February 26, House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and Alvarez wrote and asked NTC to issue provisional authority to the network to operate “from May 4, 2020 until such time that the Congress has made a decision on its application.”

The broadcast company has been in hot water after government lawyers on February 10 accused the network of “unlawfully exercising their legislative franchises under Republic Act No. 7966 and Republic Act No. 8332” by, among other allegations, operating the Kapamilya Box Office pay-per-view service.

Rep. Edcel Lagman (Albay) said that provisional authority was just “alternative relief” that puts ABS-CBN “into a quagmire of legal problems,” saying that this did not alleviate the need to have their franchise renewed. 

A separate Senate hearing, whose legitimacy Cayetano called into question, found that the broadcast giant complied with all laws and regulations. 

Within the lower chamber, ranking lawmakers have gone on record to say that they were asked to withdraw support for a resolution urging the House Committee on Legislative Franchises to act on bills for the renewal of the network's franchise.

READ: House reps asked to withdraw support for ABS-CBN resolution, solon says

Others have said that hearings for the bill were being stalled because they did not have clearance from Cayetano, who has admitted he held personal complaints against the network. 

This is despite Cayetano's consistent promise that the franchise renewal would be given a fair and objective hearing in the Duterte-dominated House. 

Duterte has repeatedly said that he will see that ABS-CBN's franchise will not be extended, although the Palace has also said that the president, whose words often translate into policy, will not meddle in the affairs of Congress. — with report from Kristine Joy Patag

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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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