Zarate insists: NTC can give ABS-CBN interim license to persist operations
MANILA, Philippines — The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) can grant broadcast giant ABS-CBN provisional authority to operate while its main franchise is yet to lapse, House Deputy Minority leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate insisted Wednesday.
Zarate made the remark after former Chief Justice Reynato Puno said that ABS-CBN can’t continue operating without a new license.
Citing a Supreme Court decision which he penned, Puno said a broadcast network is required to have a franchise and that NTC could not give a temporary permit to a network that does not have a franchise.
But for Zarate, ABS-CBN’s case is different since the media giant’s franchise has yet to expire. ABS-CBN’s franchise will expire in May, not March 30, as earlier reported.
“This (ABS-CBN) one is different. There is an existing franchise [of] ABS-CBN, but about to expire,” Zarate stressed.
“So, ang sinasabi natin dito ay kung (what we are saying here is if) between now and May 4, buhay pa ‘yung franchise ng ABS-CBN (the franchise of ABS-CBN is still valid), if it will be given by the NTC – ‘yung (the) two-year extension – then I think it is still in accordance with the memorandum of understanding,” the lawmaker added.
Zarate was referring to a memorandum of understanding signed in 1994 between the House of Representatives, NTC, and the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP).
Under the said MOU, NTC can still give a permit for radio and television operations “provided that such temporary permits or authorization to operate shall be valid for two years.”
“If the application for franchise remains unacted by Congress”, the temporary permit “shall be extendible for another two years,” according to the memo.
Currently, there are 11 bills pending before the House of Representatives seeking the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise.
On Monday, the House committee on legislative franchises formally started the proceedings to tackle the issue by asking stakeholders – both for and against the franchise renewal – to submit their position papers.
But as to the conduct of actual hearings, committee chair and Palawan Rep. Franz Alvarez said the panel may calendar it between May and August.
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