ABS-CBN won’t go off air

ABS-CBN logo

THE National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) yesterday assured both the ABS-CBN Corp. and the members of Congress that the television network can continue its operation even after its franchise expires on May 4 this year.

At yesterday’s first hearing of the House Committee on Legislative Franchises, NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba said the agency will follow the advice of the Department of Justice allowing the ABS-CBN to continue its operations based on equity.

Cordoba’s statement heeds the request of both the Senate and House of Representatives to allow the television network to operate while the renewal of its franchise is being heard this 18th Congress.

Citing a letter from Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and committee chairman Palawan Rep. Franz Alvarez, the NTC said it would issue a provisional authority for ABS-CBN.

“May I assure this committee that barring a gross violation of its franchise of the NTC rules and regulations, the NTC will follow the latest advice of the DOJ (Department of Justice) and let ABS-CBN continue operations based on equity,” Cordoba told members of the panel.

On the part of the Senate, it came out with a resolution asking the NTC to allow ABS-CBN to operate as Congress continued to deliberate on bills seeking to grant it a fresh 25-year franchise.

In the House of Representatives 11 pending measures have been referred to the legislatives franchises committee.

Only officials of the NTC were invited to yesterday’s hearing.

Cordoba cited a DoJ opinion saying “there’s sufficient equitable basis to allow broadcast entities to continue operating” pending congressional decision on franchise applications.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra had also cited the need for a “more stable legal environment” which Congress could create in the form of a concurrent resolution authorizing the NTC to issue a provisional authority.

The committee will continue its hearing when session resumes in May.

Speaker Alan Peter Cayetao said they made a right decision in not prioritizing the ABS-CBN franchise because it still can operate.