ABS-CBN franchise approval a ‘shortcut’ – FICTAP

The Federation of International Cable TV Associations of the Philippines (FICTAP) has alleged that the approval of ABS-CBN’s franchise had taken a “shortcut”, since the usual span for approval is five to six years.

FICTAP Chair Estrellita Juliano-Tamano said during a press conference on Tuesday that  FICTAP opposed the renewal of the said franchise during the 16th Congress committee hearing in 2014, since multiple channels are not allowed in a single franchise. Broadcaster ABS-CBN used the term “channels” instead of “channel” in their application, she said.

“The House committee decided not to approve the franchise at that time and set another hearing for the matter, which never happened,” she said.

Tamano also slammed ABS-CBN for not taking action as soon as the FICTAP and House committee disapproved the renewal in the 16th Congress. The broadcaster is just now refiling their application in the 18th Congress, but they could have done so during the 17th Congress. 

She then argued that ABS-CBN’s franchise was only licensed for test broadcasts, or free TV, not paid TV. This means it was not allowed to offer pay-per-view services.

It can be recalled that in 2015, ABS-CBN was ordered by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to stop offering any pay television service in its digital terrestrial television (DTT), or TV Plus, which contains multiple channels.

The franchise, if approved during 16th Congress, would have justified their pay-per-view services, according to Tamano.

Furthermore, she also reiterated the job of 24,000 individuals of the 600 member operators of FICTAP would be at stake, because of the questionable operation of ABS-CBN.

Meanwhile, the bills which seek for the renewal of ABS-CBN franchise had been pending in the House since August 2019.

A quo warranto petition for the forfeiture of ABS-CBN’s franchise due to allegedly highly abusive practices was filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida recently.

Moreover, ABS-CBN maintained that it had not violated any laws.

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