SC nixes TRO vs ABS-CBN

February 11, 2020

THE Office of the Solicitor General yesterday failed to get a temporary restraining order stopping the operation of ABS-CBN’s Kapamilya Box Office (KBO), a channel subscription where nine million subscribers can watch their favorite movies and television programs.

In an en banc resolution, the SC instead required ABS-CBN to file a comment within a non-extendible period of 10 days on the quo warranto petition which was filed the other day.

“Acting on the Quo Warranto Petition filed by Solicitor General Calida on behalf of the Republic against respondents ABS CBN Corp. and ABS CBN Convergence Inc., the Supreme Court in today’s En Banc session, required the respondents to file their comment to the said petition for Quo Warranto within a non-extendible period of 10 days from receipt of notice.

“The comment likewise pertains to the prayer of the Solicitor General for the issuance of a TRO or writ of preliminary injunction to enjoin ABS CBN Corporation from further operating the KBO Channel and offering it to the public,” SC spokesperson Brian Keith Hosaka said in a statement to reporters.

In the 63-page petition for quo warranto OSG against ABS-CBN, the OSG asked the SC to nullify the franchise of the network.

Solicitor General Jose Calida also asked the high court to issue a TRO or writ of preliminary injunction to bar ABS-CBN “from further operating the KBO Channel and offering it to the general public.”

KBO is a channel that offers premium content by registering and paying through the country’s mobile networks from P30 to P99 per week.

The petition pointed out that KBO was launched without a permit from the National Telecommunications Commission. The premium channel also uses the free-to-air frequency granted by the government.

Under the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Framework, free-to-air is defined as “TV and radio broadcast service in clear and unencrypted form requiring no subscription, other than on-going cost or reception fee.”

“ABS-CBN Corporation is prohibited from using the free-to-air signals to profit from the public, except to comply with its contractual obligations under contracts with commercial advertisers and producers,” asserted the petition of the so-called government’s lawyer.

Calida said using the free-to-air frequency to charge subscribers is an abuse of privilege.

“This warrants the revocation of ABS-CBN Corporation’s legislative franchise,” Calida said.