MANILA – The House Committee on Legislative Franchises on Thursday said it would consider the explanation and apology of National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) officials regarding their cease and desist order against broadcast network ABS-CBN.
Palawan Rep. Franz Alvarez made the statement upon receiving NTC’s reply to the House committee’s show cause order directing the agency officials why they should not be cited in contempt for backtracking on its earlier commitment to grant ABS-CBN a provisional authority to operate beyond its May 4 franchise expiry.
“The Committee shall duly consider the officials’ explanation and the apology contained therein in resolving whether or not they should be held in contempt,” Alvarez said.
The NTC officials said that the issuance of a provisional authority would have amounted to an “encroachment” of Congress’ exclusive power to grant, deny, extend, revoke, or modify broadcast franchises.
Alvarez noted that the panel would also consider NTC’s letter in tackling the various House resolutions related to the ABS-CBN franchise.
He specifically pertained to House Resolution No. 853, filed by Deputy Speaker Paolo Duterte, seeking a congressional inquiry on the probable violations of the embattled network regarding its legislative franchise.
“We shall advise the NTC in due course of the Committee’s actions with regard to the foregoing matters,” he added.
In House Resolution No. 853, Duterte claimed that the ABS-CBN Corporation violated its franchise when it operated a pay-per-view channel through free-to-air signals.
“By charging the public with its pay-per-view Kapamilya Box Office (KBO) channel through ABS-CBN TV Plus, it has been gaining huge profits at the expense of the public while using the air frequencies provided by the government for free,” Duterte said.
Duterte also noted that the network continued its operation of the pay-per-view channel despite being ordered by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to refrain from doing so and await the issuance of appropriate guidelines.
Meanwhile, he said ABS-CBN Corporation’s issuance of Philippine Depository Receipts (PDRs) to non-Filipino citizens through ABS-CBN Holdings is in violation of the 1987 Constitution, particularly a provision restricting foreign ownership of mass media.
He added that the foreign equity in ABS-CBN also violates the Foreign Investments Act and Presidential Decree No. 1018, which limits the ownership and management of mass media to Filipinos. (IA/PNA)