ABS-CBN chief defends broadcast operations despite pending license bid
MANILA, Philippines — ABS-CBN president and chief executive officer Carlo Katigbak on Monday appealed to extend to his company the same favor that Congress had previously extended to other companies with expired franchises to operate while their bid for a new one remains pending.
Katigbak made the appeal as he defended the ABS-CBN’s broadcast operations despite their pending license application during the joint hearing of the House committee on legislative franchises and committee on good government and public accountability, which is hearing the network’s bid for a 25-year franchise.
The hearing saw heated discussions over the network’s airing of its programs through ABS-CBN TVPlus and Sky Cable, two of the company’s subsidiaries.
“Totoo naman po na nag-expire ‘yung franchise ng Sky. Pero totoo rin po that Congress has allowed companies whose franchises have expired but whose application for renewal is pending to continue to operate,” Katigbak said.
“In fact, in the very first hearing of the franchise committee, ‘yan din po ‘yung hiningi n’yo sa NTC (National Telecommunications Commission) — the permission to allow ABS to continue to operate even after its franchise had expired,” he added.
Katigbak said that if services on ABS-CBN TV Plus and Sky Cable will also be cut, almost 55 million people will lose access to their source of entertainment and information.
“Ang appeal po namin sa Kongreso is, in the spirit of fairness, please consider that you have allowed other companies to operate before, even after their franchises have expired for so long as Congress continues to hear their application for a renewal,” Katigbak said.
In the same hearing, NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba said that ABS-CBN violated the cease and desist order issued against them when it continued its TV Plus operations since their franchise had already expired.
Cordoba added that Channel 43, where ABS-CBN airs digital TV, is covered by the CDO they issued against ABS-CBN after the network’s franchise expired.
But Katigbak argued that the CDO originally issued by the NTC does not cover Channel 43.
“The reason we continue to see our channels on TV Plus is we have a block time arrangement with AMCARA (Broadcasting Network),” Katigbak explained, referring to the ultra high frequency (UHF) channel where the ABS-CBN Sports and Action shows are being shown.
Cavite Rep. Jesus Crispin Remulla, however, said that ABS-CBN is “engaging in the usufruct of another franchise” by airing its shows on Channel 43.
In response, Katigbak explained that “a block-time is not a usufruct.”
“A block-time arrangement is a standard commercial agreement that is quite common in the broadcasting industry. It’s not just ABS-CBN that enters into block-time arrangement,” Katigbak said.
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