Thu. Sep 23rd, 2021

MANILA — Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Tuesday clarified that his agency’s opinion on the debacle over broadcast firm ABS-CBN’s franchise sought by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) does not conflict with portions of the petition for quo warranto against the network by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG).

Guevarra said the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) opinion interpreted the standard phrase for commercial purposes in all broadcast franchises as broad enough to cover other sources of income apart from the usual advertising revenues, including pay per view, but subject to relevant regulations or guidelines promulgated by the NTC.

“That opinion was not particular to ABS-CBN. On the other hand, the quo warranto petition filed by the OSG alleges that said company offered pay-per-view quite prematurely, as NTC guidelines on the matter were not yet formulated,” he said in a message to reporters.

During Monday’s Senate hearing, Guevarra said the government may grant ABS-CBN a provisional authority to continue operating pending the renewal of its franchise through a concurrent resolution of Congress authorizing the NTC to issue a provisional authority.

He said this is the position of the DOJ after noting a gap in the law that could have declared the status of operations of a radio and TV franchisee pending the renewal of its franchise.

In cases of such gaps, he said the equity principle could be applied.

He added that the “sovereign power” of Congress to grant a franchise “also includes the power to prescribe the rights of a franchisee applicant pending filing of determination of the renewal of its franchise by the Congress”.

Guevarra said such considerations may be extended not only to ABS-CBN, but also to other entities similarly situated.

On the other hand, NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba said the agency could withdraw a provisional franchise it issued “subject to conditions”.

He said the guidelines can also be provided in the resolution to be adopted by Congress. (iamigo/

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