MANILA - The Office of the Solicitor General has asked the Supreme Court to issue a gag order against ABS-CBN Corp. after his office filed a quo warranto petition to forfeit the legislative franchises of ABS-CBN Corporation and its subsidiary, ABS-CBN Convergence, Inc.
In a very urgent motion, the government's top counsel wanted to prohibit "parties and persons acting on their [network's] behalf" from releasing statements surrounding the quo warranto petition filed by OSG to invalidate its license.
After the network issued a statement, ABS-CBN allegedly "engaged in propaganda," the OSG said.
OSG had earlier asked the high court to forfeit the license of ABS-CBN, which operates free TV Channel 2 and radio DZMM, due to several violations.
Calida’s quo warranto petition alleged that the company had issued Philippine Depository Receipts (PDRs) to foreigners, the same issue raised against news website Rappler.
ABS-CBN, in a public statement, said Calida’s allegations are “without merit” as the organization “complies with all the pertinent laws governing its franchise,” saying the quo warranto case was an “effort to shut down” their operations.
It said PDRs issued by ABS-CBN Holdings were “evaluated and approved” by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Philippine Stock Exchange prior to public offering, noting other broadcast companies used them “to raise capital for the improvement of services.”
The Calida petition also claimed that ABS-CBN Corp “abused” its franchise privilege by operating a pay-per-view channel without approval from the National Telecommunications Commission.
ABS-CBN said: “All our broadcast offerings, including KBO, have received the necessary government and regulatory approvals and are not prohibited by our franchise.”
ABS-CBN’s ownership in ABS-CBN Convergence, the company said, was “undertaken under the same law and structures that have been utilized by other telecommunications companies.”
The ownership transfer was approved under the Public Telecommunications Policy Act and “fully compliant with law,” it said.
“KBO remains one of the cheapest forms of entertainment that we can provide to the public,” ABS-CBN said.
Calida’s petition came despite 11 pending bills seeking an extension of ABS-CBN’s franchise, which will expire on March 30.
President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly said he would oppose ABS-CBN's franchise renewal, complaining of the network's supposed failure to air a campaign ad that he paid for before the 2016 presidential election.
Malacañang has distanced itself from the franchise ordeal of ABS-CBN Corp, insisting that the company’s fate relies upon Congress and the Supreme Court.
More details to follow.
News.abs-cbn.com is the official news website of ABS-CBN Corp.