Provisional okay for ABS-CBN sought

February 26, 2020

THE House Committee on Legislative Franchises has sent a letter to the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) Commissioner enjoining the agency to grant ABS-CBN a provisional authority to operate.

In a letter, committee chairman Palawan Rep. Franz Castro said the provisional authority will be effective from May 4, 2020 until such time that Congress has made a decision on the network’s application. 

This letter is part of the assurances of the House of Representatives that ABS-CBN Corporation will be able to continue broadcasting while Congress is deliberating on the renewal of its franchise.

The ABS-CBN franchise is set to expire on May 4, 2020, because RA 7966 stipulates that the franchise became effective 15 days from the date of its publication, which was April 19,1995.

To date, the committee has not yet scheduled any hearing on the 11 pending measures seeking to renew the franchise of the television network.

Congress will have a session break starting March 13 and will resume May 4.

Both Alvarez and Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano informed the NTC that the Committee on Legislative Franchises has started deliberating on ABS-CBN Corporation’s application for the renewal of its franchise by asking all stakeholders to submit position papers for the lawmakers for further study.

The letter pointed out that the House of Representatives has the exclusive original jurisdiction and authority to act on franchise applications. 

Speaker Cayetano also reiterated his earlier stand that Congress will prioritize more urgent measures concerning the rehabilitation of Batangas, the prevention of the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the creation of the Departments of OFWs and Disaster Resilience, as well as several revenue measures being pushed by the Duterte administration that will help bring in millions of new jobs.

In the same letter, the two House leaders enjoined the NTC to grant ABS-CBN Corporation’s subsidiaries and /or affiliates, whose franchise applications are pending deliberation with the House Committee on Legislative Franchises, the same provisional authority. 

The subsidiaries and/or affiliates are the ABS-CBN Convergence, Inc., Sky Cable Corporation, and Amcara Broadcasting Network, Inc.

They urged NTC to include in the respective provisional authorities terms and conditions that the agency deems appropriate to protect public interest consistent with applicable laws, rules, and regulations.