NTC to issue ABS-CBN provisional authority to operate after its franchises expires May 4

Published March 11, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Vanne Elaine Terrazola

The National Telecommunication Commission (NTC) will be issuing on May 4 the provisional authority allowing ABS-CBN to continue operating after its legislative franchise lapses.

The 25-year franchise of the broadcast network is set to expire on the same day.

“Mai-issue ho ‘yan (It will be issued) on May 4,” NTC Deputy Commissioner engineer Edgardo Cabarios said in an interview Wednesday, after receiving from senators the official copy of the adopted Senate Resolution No. 40, which expresses the Upper Chamber’s support for the continued operations of ABS-CBN Corporation and its subsidiaries.

Cabarios said the commission would heed the Department of Justice’s advice to grant the media giant a temporary permit to operate while the 18th Congress has not yet decided on its application for a 25-year franchise renewal.

The provisional authority will be valid from May 4, 2020 to June 30, 2022, he said.

The NTC earlier asked the Senate and the House of Representatives to adopt resolutions that will enable them to grant ABS-CBN the authority to operate despite having an expired franchise.

Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba earlier said this will give the agency more legal bases for the move.

Amid possible legal challenges to the upcoming provisional authority for ABS-CBN, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, who chaired the House committee on legislative franchise when he was a congressman, said “it has been a practice” of NTC to issue such during the pendency of any franchise renewal in Congress.

“Dapat kung anong maibigay sa iba, ay dapat maibigay din sa ABS-CBN (What was given to others should also be given to ABS-CBN). Kasi kung hindi mangyari ‘yon (Because if that doesn’t happen), clearly nagkaroon ng (there is) prejudice, nagkaroon ng (there was) bias [against] that particular application,” Zubiri said.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, sponsor of the resolution, maintained any legal questions arising from the issuance of the provisional authority should be left to the courts.

Last March 4, the Senate unanimously adopted Resolution No. 40 saying ABS-CBN should be allowed to continue operating under the terms of its current franchise pending the decision of Congress on its franchise renewal.

The House legislative franchises committee on Tuesday (March 10) also adopted as their official position the letter of its chair, Palawan Rep. Franz Alvarez, and Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano to give ABS-CBN and its affiliates a provisional authority to operate.