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Now Reading: ABS-CBN FRANCHISE ISSUE | OSG files quo warranto plea to nullify TV franchise
ABS-CBN FRANCHISE ISSUE | OSG files quo warranto plea to nullify TV franchise
February 10, 2020 , 11:30 AM

FEBRUARY 10, 2020 – The Duterte administration’s top lawyer on Monday asked the Supreme Court to nullify the legislative franchise of the country’s largest broadcast network, citing violations of its license to operate.

The Lopez family-controlled broadcast network has been at the receiving end of President Rodrigo Duterte’s tirades in the past three years as it seeks to renew its franchise which will expire next month.

Solicitor General Jose Calida personally filed a quo warranto petition before the Supreme Court against ABS-CBN Corporation and its subsidiary, ABS-CBN Convergence Inc.

“We want to put an end to what we discovered to be highly abusive practices of ABS-CBN benefiting a greedy few at the expense of millions of its loyal subscribers,” Calida said in a statement. “These practices have gone unnoticed or were disregarded for years.”

Calida argued ABS-CBN has violated the Constitution by broadcasting for a fee and by allowing foreign investors to take part in its ownership.

Under Section 11, Article XVI of the Constitution, ownership and management of mass media are limited to citizens of the Philippines, or to corporations, cooperatives or associations, wholly-owned and managed by them.

He also cited the company’s operation of a pay-per-view channel in ABS-CBN TV Plus and the KBO Channel without securing approval from the National Telecommunications Commission.

The ABS-CBN Convergence Inc., was also accused of resorting to an “ingenious corporate layering scheme” to transfer its franchise without Congress approval.

Rachel Khan, a journalism professor at the University of the Philippines said the solicitor-general ‘s move was “clear attack on press freedom”, questioning the timing of the case when the franchise renewal is already pending in Congress.

The National Union of Journalists in the Philippines also condemned the solicitor-generals move to shut down ABS-CBN.

“This proves without a doubt that this government is hellbent on using all its powers to shut down the broadcast network whose franchise renewal, now pending in Congress, President Rodrigo Duterte has personally vowed to block,” the NUJP said in a statement. “So much so that it would risk trampling on Congress’ authority to legislate franchises.”

The president’s spokesman, Salvador Panelo distanced from the solicitor-general legal moves, saying Malacañang does not have anything to do with the petition.

The company’s franchise is already set to expire at the end of March.

But there were already bills filed by several lawmakers to seek renewal of ABS-CBN franchise still pending in Congress, endangering the employment and livelihood of hundreds of workers with the network.

Even if the bill passes in both chambers, the franchise would still pass through the president for final approval and signing into law.

Since assuming presidency in 2016, Duterte has repeatedly threatened to shut down one the country’s biggest broadcast network for not airing his paid political advertisements during the 2016 presidential campaign. (Karen Macalalad/MM)

READ ALSO: ON EXPIRING ABS-CBN FRANCHISE | NUJP tells public: Defend press freedom

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