TIMELINE: Will ABS-CBN get a new broadcast franchise?

Christian V. Esguerra, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 04 2020 03:31 PM | Updated as of Jul 05 2020 02:06 PM

Hundreds of ABS-CBN employees together with supporters march around ABS-CBN compound on Friday, 21 February 2020 to protest against the impending closure of the media giant following the quo waranto case filed by Solicitor General Calida. Larry Monserate Piojo, ABS-CBN

MANILA - The broadcast franchise of ABS-CBN Corp., the Philippines' largest media network, expired on Monday, May 4.

Here are key events in the network's bid to renew its license to operate:

March 30, 1995

ABS-CBN Corp. received a 25-year broadcast franchise after Congress passed Republic Act No. 7966. The franchise would expire on May 4, 2020 because the law took effect 15 days after publication.

June 11, 2016

ABS-CBN Corp. issued a statement in reaction to a newspaper report, saying that the company had applied for a new franchise in September 2014. But ABS-CBN said it withdrew the application “due to time constraints.”

May 5, 2016

A 30-second political ad showing children raising questions about then presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte’s foul language was aired on ABS-CBN. Duterte’s supporters slammed the ad, but ABS-CBN explained it was “duty-bound to air a legitimate ad” based on election rules.

Nov. 10, 2016

Nueva Ecija Rep. Micaela Violago filed a bill seeking a fresh 25-year franchise for ABS-CBN.

March 30, 2017

Duterte went after ABS-CBN and the Philippine Daily Inquirer in a speech, cursing at the 2 news organizations over what he claimed was their unfair reporting.

March 31, 2017

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines hit Duterte for his expletive-laden speech against ABS-CBN and the Inquirer. The NUJP described Duterte’s mindset as that of a “petty tyrant who mistakenly believes public office is an entitlement that allows you to flout the laws of the land that grant you both power and ensure the checks that prevent you from abusing that power.”

April 27, 2017

Duterte accused ABS-CBN of “swindling” because of a campaign ad that he had paid for but was not aired in 2016. He said he would block the company’s bid for a new franchise.

May 19, 2017

Duterte spent a good part of a speech to criticize ABS-CBN, again raising the issue of the paid but unaired political ad the year before. He ended the speech by saying: “You want to know my sentiments? F**k you. Salamat.”

August 3, 2018

Duterte said he would not “intervene” in ABS-CBN’s application for a new broadcast franchise. “But if I had my way, I will not give it back to you,” he said.

December 3, 2019

Duterte again threatened to block ABS-CBN’s application for a new franchise, saying, “I will see to it that you are out.”

Dec. 30, 2019

In a speech, President Duterte said it would be better for owners to just sell ABS-CBN Corp, doubting that its broadcast franchise would be renewed.

January 17, 2020

The NUJP led the first in a series of “Black Friday” protests against Duterte’s attacks on ABS-CBN. The group called for the renewal of the network’s broadcast franchise.

February 10, 2020

Solicitor General Jose Calida asked the Supreme Court to revoke the franchise of ABS-CBN Corp. and that of its subsidiary, ABS-CBN Convergence Inc., over alleged violations, which the company denied.

Malacañang distanced itself from Calida’s quo warranto petition—the same strategy he used to remove former Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno—as lawmakers slammed the government’s top lawyer for “usurping the power of Congress” to decide on legislative franchises.

February 11, 2020

The Supreme Court gave ABS-CBN 10 days to respond to the Calida petition.

With the House of Representatives accused of dragging its feet on ABS-CBN’s application for a new franchise, Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, Duterte’s running mate in 2016, promised to conduct “impartial” hearings.

February 12, 2020

With the House not moving on the franchise application, Sen. Grace Poe called for a hearing of her public services committee to look into ABS-CBN’s “compliance” with its 1995 franchise.

February 14, 2020

A bigger rally in support of ABS-CBN was staged in front of its Sgt. Esguerra gate in Quezon City. Cayetano said conducting hearings on the network’s franchise application was “not urgent.”

February 17, 2020

With only 12 session days left before Congress went on break, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon filed a resolution extending ABS-CBN’s franchise until the end of 2022.

February 18, 2020

Calida went back to the Supreme Court seeking a gag order on ABS-CBN and “parties and persons acting on [its] behalf.” He cited a digital explainer outlining the issues he raised in his quo warranto petition, and the company’s response.

February 21, 2020

ABS-CBN employees and supporters held a “unity walk” appealing on Congress to renew the company’s broadcast franchise. Senator Poe said her committee had invited Calida to the upcoming hearing.

February 24, 2020

ABS-CBN filed its response to Calida’s quo warranto petition.

Its executives appeared in a highly anticipated Senate hearing. 

Sen. Christopher Go, Duterte’s longtime aide, detailed the President’s grievances against the network, saying: “Kung masama ka kay Pangulo, mas maging masama siya sa ’yo. Kung mabait ka kay Pangulo, mas mabait siya sa ’yo.”

CEO Carlo Katigbak acknowledged the network’s “shortcomings” and promised to correct them. But he maintained that ABS-CBN did not break the law or violate the terms of its franchise.

Katigbak also set the record straight on Duterte’s complaint over the unaired political ads, saying all of the president’s national ads worth P117 million had come out. Part of the local ads was not aired, he admitted, due to limited time so the network returned P4 million, which Duterte accepted.

Katigbak said refund of the remaining amount of P2.6 million was delayed and was “no longer accepted by the president.”

The ABS-CBN executive also apologized “if we offended the president” over the 2016 campaign ad funded by former Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV.

February 26, 2020

The House Committee on Legislative Franchises asked the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to issue a provisional authority for ABS-CBN’s continued operations while the chamber deliberated on its application for a new franchise.

Duterte said he would not accept the P2.8-million refund and asked ABS-CBN to instead donate the amount to a charity of its choice. 

Cagayan De Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez filed a resolution extending ABS-CBN’s franchise until May 4, 2021.

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, who was among the first to call for a new franchise for ABS-CBN, said Congress should just grant it, instead of going through the “circuitous process” of a joint resolution “of dubious constitutionality.”

March 5, 2020

Lawyer Larry Gadon went to the Supreme Court questioning the House committee’s move instructing the NTC to grant provisional authority to ABS-CBN.

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March 10, 2020

The Supreme Court deferred action on Calida’s petition seeking to take ABS-CBN off the air.

The House of Representatives finally held a hearing on ABS-CBN’s application for a new franchise, spending much of the discussions setting the ground rules.

The NTC assured congressmen that it would issue a provisional authority allowing ABS-CBN to remain on the air even after its franchise expired on May 4, 2020.

May 3, 2020

On the eve of the expiration of ABS-CBN’s franchise, Calida warned the NTC against issuing a provisional authority to the country's largest media and entertainment company. 

He said such authority could be given only if there’s a valid legislative franchise.

May 4, 2020

ABS-CBN’s broadcast franchise expires.

May 5, 2020

The NTC issues a cease and desist order (CDO) against ABS-CBN's television and broadcast operations, citing the network's expired franchise.

In compliance with the order, which the NTC says is immediately executory, ABS-CBN went off air at 7:52 p.m.

May 7, 2020

ABS-CBN asked the Supreme Court for a temporary restraining order to stop the implementation of the CDO issued by the NTC.

May 13, 2020

The House of Representatives approves on second reading a bill granting a provisional franchise to ABS-CBN Corp, valid through October 2020.

May 18, 2020

ABS-CBN urged the Supreme Court to immediately act on its plea to resume its broadcast operation in a bid to stop millions of pesos in revenue loss and protect the jobs of 11,000 workers.

May 19, 2020

ABS-CBN CEO and President Carlo Katigbak told a Senate hearing that the company may "consider" retrenching workers by August if it fails to resume broadcast soon, citing financial losses every month.

The House of Representatives decided to stop deliberations on the proposed provisional franchise for ABS-CBN, opting instead to hear bills for a 25-year franchise. 

Cayetano said the House of Representatives would be "ready to decide" on a new 25-year franchise for ABS-CBN Corp. by August, as the Committee on Legislative Franchises set the first hearing for the ABS-CBN franchise bills on May 26, 2020.

May 26, 2020

The Committees on Legislative Franchises and Good Government and Public Accountability of the House of Representatives began joint hearings on pending measures for ABS-CBN's fresh 25-year license to operate, and issues surrounding its franchise.

June 1, 2020

Solicitor General Jose Calida attended a hearing on ABS-CBN's franchise for the first time since questioning it before the Supreme Court.

June 3, 2020

Lawmakers questioned ABS-CBN chairman emeritus Eugenio "Gabby" Lopez III on his citizenship. The Department of Justice said Lopez is a Filipino citizen from birth.

June 11, 2020

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said ABS-CBN Holdings Corp did not violate its regulations when it issued Philippine Deposit Receipts (PDRs).

The Supreme Court said it would tackle on July 13, 2020 ABS-CBN Corp's urgent plea to resume broadcast operations.

June 15, 2020

Lawmakers questioned how the Lopez family regained control of the network after the martial rule of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

The DOJ and the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) said the Lopez family did not lose ownership of ABS-CBN even if it was seized by the Marcos government.

June 23, 2020

The Supreme Court dismissed Calida's quo warranto petition questioning ABS-CBN Corp's franchise for it was "moot and academic."

It earlier junked a petition filed by lawyer Lorenzo Gadon on the ground of having "no legal standing."

June 29, 2020

At the continuation of the hearings of the two House committees, the NTC said it would heed the advice of the Office of the Solicitor General to shut down the Kapamilya Channel, which airs some of ABS-CBN Corp's shows through cable and satellite television.

Congressmen also looked into ABS-CBN's compliance with labor laws, with the Department of Labor and Employment saying the network was "fully compliant" with industry standards.

June 30, 2020

The NTC issued alias cease-and-desist orders against ABS-CBN’s digital broadcast on TVPlus in Metro Manila, and SKY’s satellite broadcast nationwide.

ABS-CBN complied with the orders.

July 1, 2020

The Bureau of Internal Revenue told lawmakers that ABS-CBN Corp. has no current tax delinquency. 

July 2, 2020

At the continuation of the House hearings, the Philippine Economic Zone Authority debunked allegations that the network was using its subsidiaries overseas to avoid tax payments.

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