NTC assures ABS-CBN will continue operations

Jove Moya

THE National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) on Tuesday, March 10, will heed the Department of Justice's (DOJ) advice to issue a provisional authority to television network ABS-CBN while Congress deliberates on its application for franchise renewal.

NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba said this will allow ABS-CBN to operate even after its 25-year franchise expires on May 4, 2020.

Cordoba made the statement before members of the House committee on legislative franchises, which started Tuesday, March 10, the discussions on 11 pending bills seeking to renew the television network's franchise.

The committee asked stakeholders to pass their position papers by April 15 so the panel could deliberate on the next scheduled hearing.

Cordoba noted that Guevarra had advised NTC to "allow broadcast entities to continue operating while the bills for the renewal of their respective franchise remain pending with Congress.”

"A more stable legal environment could be created to authorize NTC to issue provisional authority to this broadcasting company, under such terms and conditions as it may deem necessary until Congress' final disposition of the franchise renewal bill," Cordoba said.

"The NTC will follow the advice of the Department of Justice and let ABS-CBN continue their operations," he added.

House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, in a press conference after the hearing, said he made the right decision to prioritize more urgent matters and defer talks on the ABS-CBN's franchise in May.

"After watching (the hearing) lalong nabuo 'yung loob ko na ang pag-usapan ng Kongreso ay' yung urgent matters," Cayetano said.

He reiterated that he merely wants to prevent the hearings on the issue from becoming a circus.

"Nakita niyo po, contentious at emotional talaga iyong issue," he added.

He stressed that Congress wants to make the right decision and this can only be done if they can hold a "fair, objective and transparent" hearing.

He also said ABS-CBN is considered "innocent until proven guilty."

"So as far as we're concerned, wala pang violation ang ABS-CBN sa kanilang last franchise. So there is no reason in this world why the NTC or any other agency should shut them down or prohibit them from broadcasting while their franchise (application) is pending," Cayetano said.

A total of 11 bills seeking to renew the ABS-CBN franchise have been filed in the House. (SunStar Philippines)