LIST: Broadcast firms, telcos allowed to operate beyond franchise validity


Posted at May 06 2020 03:39 PM | Updated as of May 13 2020 09:46 AM

MANILA - There are precedents in allowing ABS-CBN to operate after its franchise expired on May 4, based on previous cases of broadcast and telecommunications companies.

During a Senate hearing last February, Public services committee chairman Senator Grace Poe listed previous instances where the renewal of franchises were approved after their expiry date.

"Yan ay maraming halimbawa na kung saan hindi pa tapos ang prangkisa ay nagkaroon pa rin ng apruba ng prangkisa on a temporary basis hanggang matapos ang pagdinig," Poe said in February.

(Those are examples where franchise hearing weren't done yet but there were approvals of franchise on a temporary bases until the discussion on renewal ended.)

National Telecommunications Commissioner (NTC) Gamaliel Cordoba, testifying in the same hearing, acknowledged that in similar instances, broadcast and telecommunication companies were allowed to operate past their franchise validity.

"Meron po kasing mga cases before na ang nangyari while na legislative process ay umaandar, nangyari po ang pag end or pag lapse ng franchise ng mga pending committee bills of franchise, ay tumuloy naman po ito, but that was based on the opinion of the House of Representatives and the Senate," Cordoba said.

(There were cases before where, when the legislative process are on-going, once the franchise ends, they continued to operate.)

Under the law, Congress has the exclusive authority to grant, deny, extend or revoke broadcast franchises.

List of precedents where franchises were approved and firms were allowed to operate past their expiry dates:

• Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines - Franchise expired in 2017 but its new franchise was approved 2 years after in 2019

• Subic Broadcasting Corp - The franchise expired in 2017 while the renewal was approved in 2018

• Radio Marine Network Inc - Franchise validity lasted until 2018 while its new franchise was approved in 2019

• Smart Communications - Franchise lapsed on March 2017, new franchise was approved in April 2017
• Globe Innove - Franchise expired in April 10, 2017, new franchise was approved Dec. 14, 2018

• Philippine Telegraph and Telephone Corp (PT&T) - Franchise expired in 2015, while the renewal bill lapsed into law in 2016

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Solicitor General Jose Calida earlier warned the NTC against issuing a provisional authority to ABS-CBN, saying there was no law granting the agency to grant franchises. Calida earlier questioned the validity of ABS-CBN's franchise before the Supreme Court.

The NTC earlier said all live permits to operate and maintain broadcast and pay-TV facilities that would expire during the quarantine period would be automatically renewed. The licenses will be valid for 60 days from the end of the quarantine period.

EDITOR'S NOTE: TV 5 clarified that its franchise, enacted in 1994, was renewed in April 2019 months before its expiry date.