MANILA – There is "no reason" for ABS-CBN Corp to discontinue operations even if its franchise expires May 4 after a House Committee asked the National Telecommunications Commission to grant the broadcast firm a provisional authority, the committee's chair said Monday.
In reiterating that Congress has the exclusive authority to grant, deny, extend or revoke broadcast franchises, Rep. Franz "Chicoy" Alvarez, chair of the House Committee on Legislative Franchises, recounted that the panel has "enjoined the (NTC) to allow ABS-CBN to operate until such time that the House of Representatives makes a decision on its application."
“With the legal opinion of the Department of Justice and the authority given by the House of Representatives, there is no reason for ABS-CBN to discontinue or stop their operations,” Alvarez said.
“The power of Congress to legislate is complete, full, and plenary. A legislative franchise is a law and by deciding whether to grant or deny a franchise, it is passing a law and making policy," he said.
"It should be allowed the courtesy to complete the exercise of its power.”
Isabela 1st District Rep. Antonio Albano, vice-chair of the committee, also took the same position.
“The good Speaker and I, with the whole Congress, again reiterate our call to NTC to give a provisional authority as we will deliberate soon the merits of granting or canceling the ABS-CBN franchise,” Albano said in a statement.
Albano said the media is key in helping the government fight the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) by providing “much needed information."
“I see no reason for NTC to close down ABS-CBN. In fact, it is more important now than ever, for media like ABS-CBN who has a far reaching network, to be open during this pandemic,” he said.
The NTC earlier said all live permits to operate and maintain broadcast and pay TV facilities that would expire during the Luzon quarantine would be automatically renewed. The licenses will be valid for 60 days from the end of the quarantine period.
The Office of the Solicitor General on Sunday warned the NTC against issuing provisional authorities to ABS-CBN Corp and its affiliate, ABS-CBN Convergence, Inc., in the absence of a franchise from Congress.
Solicitor General Jose Calida's position is contrary to that of Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra.
Calida had also questioned the validity of the current franchise of ABS-CBN before the Supreme Court.
ABS-CBN, which reaches millions of Filipinos through its television, radio and online platforms, said it has not violated the law in its 65-year service.
News.abs-cbn.com is the news website of ABS-CBN.