SENATORS on Wednesday adopted a resolution extending the validity of the franchises that will expire this year in a move that could result in the continued operation of ABS-CBN Corp., Sky Cable Corp. and AMCARA Broadcasting Network, Inc.
The chamber consolidated two concurrent resolutions and two simple resolution, authored separately by a total of 17 Senators. It will allow the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to issue a provisional authority for the companies to continue operating while their franchise renewal is pending in Congress.
These were signed by Senators Franklin M. Drilon, Juan Edgardo M. Angara, Ralph G. Recto, Grace S. Poe-Llamanzares, Maria Lourdes Nancy S. Binay, Sherwin T. Gatchalian, Emmanuel Joel J. Villanueva, Manuel M. Lapid, Pia S. Cayetano, Ronald M. dela Rosa, Christopher Lawrence T. Go, Imee R. Marcos, Ramon B. Revilla, Jr. Francis N. Tolentino, and Cynthia A. Villar.
Senate Resolution No. 6 and Concurrent Resolution No. 7 covered only ABS-CBN, while Concurrent Resolution No. 8 included Sky Cable. Senate Resolution No. 344 covers the two franchises and AMCARA.
Mr. Drilon said on Wednesday’s session the resolution gives “a degree of legal stability” for the continuation of the networks’ operations. Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III earlier questioned the resolution, arguing that previous cases did not require it.
The applications for renewal of ABS CBN, its subsidiary ABS-CBN Convergence, Inc. and Sky Cable, whose franchises will expire in May, and AMCARA, in July, all remain at the committee level in the House of Representatives.
The ABS-CBN’s franchise extension has been pending in the chamber as early as 2014.
It was re-filed in the 17th Congress, but failed to secure committee approval until it closed in June 2019.
To date, there are 11 pending bills awaiting deliberation of the House Committee on Legislative Franchises, led by Rep. Franz E. Alvarez.
Speaker Alan Peter S. Cayetano said on Wednesday Mr. Alvarez had given notice that his committee would tackle the ABS-CBN franchise on March 10.
The committee had met on Feb. 24, the same day the Senate opened an inquiry on allegations against the network. During the meeting, the committee asked for the position papers of stakeholders.
In a briefing on Wednesday, Mr. Cayetano requested those for or against the franchise renewal to submit their position paper before the legislators convene in May since the committee chairman, aside from ABS-CBN, will decide on the issues.
He noted the focus of the March 10 hearing is to ensure the NTC permits ABS-CBN operation beyond the May 4 franchise expiration. — Charmaine A. Tadalan