NTC assures lawmakers it will provide ABS-CBN provisional authority to operate beyond franchise expiration


The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has assured lawmakers that it will provide media giant ABS-CBN a temporary permit to operate while the lower chamber continues to deliberate on bills seeking to grant the network a renewal of its franchise.

Meanwhile, House leaders have expressed  optimism  that ABS-CBN will not face a legal challenge if it continues to operate based on a provisional authority issued by the NTC.  

Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and House Constitutional Amendments Committee chairperson Rufus Rodriguez expressed their opinion after NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba told the House Legislative Franchises panel that it will follow the advice of the Department of Justice (DOJ) and both houses of Congress to allow ABS-CBN to continue broadcasting with a provisional authority.

“Logic na lang eh. Kung may power ka na mag-grant ng 25 years na franchise, alangan namang wala kang power na magsabi sa NTC na huwag ninyo munang papatayin ang ilaw niyan habang nagde-decide kami,” Cayetano said, referring to Congress’ exclusive authority to grant franchise as mandated by the 1987 Constitution.

“If you have that greater power, naturally, you will have the auxiliary or ancillary power to impose that,” Cayetano also said.    

ABS-CBN’s franchise expires on May 4.

Rodriguez said continued ABS-CBN operation on a provisional authority backed by the House and the Senate stands on a very strong legal ground.

“There are really three basis now  for the NTC  to be able to issue a provisional authority: The Secretary of Justice (having the opinion that NTC should issue provisional authority to ABS-CBN provided that Congress backs it), the rule of equity, the Senate Resolution and the House Legislative Franchise Committee (backing continued ABS-CBN operation).   With this three grounds, there is no  chance that there  can be a case to be filed after the NTC concerning provisional authority,” Rodriguez said.  

Rodriguez is  one the the authors of 11 pending bills seeking ABS-CBN franchise renewal.

“There’s no way that a legal challenge can be mounted. Since Congress was not able to deliver it or either deny it or approve it, Congress can delegate that such power to the NTC as was done in so many other instances,” Rodriguez said.  

At least 11 bills seeking ABS-CBN franchise renewal have been filed with the House Committee on Legislative Franchises since August 2019, but the said panel only conducted its first hearing on the said measures last March 10, Tuesday. /Stacy Ang

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