MANILA – The chairman of the House committee on legislative franchises on Monday said he sees no reason for broadcasting giant ABS-CBN to discontinue its operations as it awaits congressional action on its franchise renewal.
In a statement, Palawan Rep. Franz Alvarez invoked the exclusive authority of Congress to grant or revoke broadcast franchises, noting that committee deliberations on ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal application have already started in March.
“Congress has the exclusive authority to grant, deny, extend, revoke, or modify broadcast franchises. In fact, it is the House of Representatives that has primary jurisdiction to make an initial determination whether an application for a legislative franchise should be granted or denied,” he said.
Alvarez noted that during the initial hearing, the committee has directed all interested parties to submit their positions papers for or against ABS-CBN’s application.
He said the committee also enjoined the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to grant ABS-CBN a provisional authority to continue its operations effective May 4, 2020, until such time that the Congress has made a decision on the network’s application.
During the March hearing, NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba said they would heed the advice of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to allow the network to operate beyond its May 4 expiry while its franchise renewal application is pending in Congress.
“This will give Congress sufficient time to assess the qualifications of the applicant and make a complete review of the positions of the different stakeholders,” Alvarez said.
Alvarez stressed that Congress should be given the “courtesy to complete the exercise” of its legislative power.
“The power of Congress to legislate is complete, full, and plenary. A legislative franchise is a law and by deciding whether to grant or deny a franchise, it is passing a law and making policy,” he added. (ia/PNA)