MANILA — Malacañang said Wednesday it had "no reaction" on the return of some ABS-CBN Corp content to free television, nearly 3 months after a House panel dominated by President Rodrigo Duterte's allies denied the franchise renewal of the broadcaster.
ABS-CBN said Tuesday some of its entertainment shows and movies would be seen on the A2Z channel 11, the newly rebranded Zoe TV 11, starting Oct. 10 through a blocktime arrangement.
"What has happened is ABS-CBN has become a content provider so that’s a distinct line of business that does not require a franchise. I guess the fans of 'Probinsyano' and the other soap operas can look forward to them on Zoe TV," said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.
"We neither welcome it nor—we have no reaction to it because they’re a content provider. For all intents and purposes, it is Zoe that will be subject to regulation because Zoe is the franchise holder," he told CNN Philippines.
House Deputy Speaker Bro. Eddie Villanueva founded Zoe Broadcasting Network Inc. Roque said he did not know whether or not Duterte and Villanueva talked about the ABS-CBN-Zoe deal when they met for a pray-over last week.
Duterte in December said he would see to it that ABS-CBN was "out" and from early in his term had accused it of failing to air his 2016 election ads. Despite this, his aides had sought to distance the President from the rejection of ABS-CBN's franchise application.
ABS-CBN, which is owned by the wealthy Lopez family, has broadcast continuously since 1953 except between 1972 and 1986 when it was seized by dictator Ferdinand Marcos -- who Duterte admires.
Duterte has a history of clashing with media outlets critical of his policies, including his controversial drug war that has killed thousands of people.
In the months since losing its free-to-air permit, ABS-CBN has kept showing many of its popular news and drama programs on cable TV and online.
But much of the advertising revenue it used to rake in has been wiped out, forcing the broadcaster to retrench thousands of its workers. -- With a report from Agence France-Presse
news.abs-cbn.com is the official news website of ABS-CBN Corp.