THE Senate on Wednesday turned over to the National Telecommunication Commission (NTC) the resolution allowing ABS-CBN Corp. to operate while its franchise extension is pending in Congress.

“This is the official turnover of the approval of the resolution authored by Senator Drilon and all the members of the Senate to the NTC for the provisional authority of ABS-CBN so they could continue operations while their application is pending in both Houses,” Majority Leader Juan Miguel F. Zubiri said in a briefing, Wednesday.

Under Senate Resolution No. 344, thirteen senators moved to authorize the commission to permit the continued operation of ABS-CBN and subsidiary, ABS-CBN Convergence, Inc.

The resolution also covered other franchisees, whose applications are likewise pending in the House of Representatives, namely: Sky Cable Corp. and Amcara Broadcasting Network, Inc.

Mr. Zubiri guaranteed that the chamber would act swiftly on the bills, once the franchises are transmitted.

“We’ll hope and pray na pagbalik natin sa May 4, maaksyunan agad ng ating (that upon our return on May 4, the franchise will be acted on by our) colleagues sa House of Representatives,” he said. “Dito sa senado (In the senate), we guarantee very quick discussions on the matter and we’ll dispose [of] it as soon as possible.”

The House Legislative Franchises Committee on Tuesday started tackling the ABS-CBN franchise, adopting in the process the letter, written by Palawan Rep. and chair of the committee Franz E. Alvarez and House Speaker Alan Peter S. Cayetano, to allow ABS-CBN to continue operation.

The NTC was represented by Deputy Commissioner Edgardo V. Cabarios, who assured the provisional authority will be issued “unless we are restrained by the court.’’

Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon, for his part, clarified that any case against ABS-CBN will not affect the provisional authority.

“In our view, while the application for the renewal of the franchise is pending, de facto the expired franchise will continue to exist, especially the authority granted by the NTC,” he said in the same briefing.

Meanwhile, the Senate has approved on third and final reading the bills extending the franchise granted to six broadcasting networks for 25 years.

The bills are for the franchise application of Broadcast Enterprises and Affiliated Media, Inc. (BEAM), Crusaders Broadcasting System (CBS), Bicol Broadcasting System, Inc., Golden Broadcast Professional, Inc., Gold Label Broadcasting System, Inc. (GPBI), and the Global Satellite Technology Services, Inc.

“We want to make sure that all franchises are given equal opportunity and prompt scrutiny as we recognize the value of able media firms as sources of job opportunities and information, especially in the countryside,” Senator Grace S. Poe-Llamanzares said in a statement, Wednesday.

Beam largely caters to Metro Manila, Cebu and Davao. It also reaches audiences in Baguio and Naga in Luzon, Iloilo in Visayas and Zamboanga in Mindanao. CBS, meanwhile, is a religious radio network that operates the DWAD 1098 AM station.

Bicol Broadcasting operates radio stations, serving Camarines Sur and some areas in Camarines Norte and Albay among other parts of the Bicol region. It’s DWLV station offers retro hits, while DWLV-FM serves public information and current affairs programming.

GBPI is a Zamboanga-based network with flagship programs, Dateline Teleradyo and Dateline Zamboanga. It also operates Magic 95.5 FM; while the Gold Label, established in Dumaguete, is known for its Power 91 DYGB-FM, which offers both news and music and entertainment.

The Global Satellite, formerly the First United Broadcasting Corp., is an alternative source of international entertainment and information. It operates a news channel, the Global News Network, and radio stations, Pampanga44, Naga43, and Cagayan de Oro45 among others.

The networks’ franchises will all expire in May, while Gold Label’s will end in July.

Ms. Llamanzares said the granting of franchises is a public duty and reiterated that it is a privilege granted by Congress. — Charmaine A. Tadalan