Energy execs sue GMA Network, Abante for libel

DOJ opinion on ABS-CBN franchise expiry sought

The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) for a legal opinion on whether television giant ABS-CBN can still be allowed to operate once its franchise expires next month.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra revealed this Thursday, adding “the department is already acting on it.”

“We got it last Tuesday afternoon and we hope to reply by next week,” Guevarra said. He failed to give details on NTC’s request.

Last February 10, a “Very Urgent Omnibus Motion” which was personally filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida, urged the Supreme Court to forfeit the franchises of ABS-CBN and ABS-CBN Convergence, Inc., saying “they are unlawfully exercising their legislative franchises.”

Also, the OSG stressed the petition was meant to stop the alleged “abusive practices” of ABS CBN.

“We want to put an end to what we discovered to be highly abusive practices of ABS-CBN benefitting a greedy few at the expense of millions of its loyal subscribers. These practices have gone unnoticed or were disregarded for years,” Calida said in a statement.

The ABS-CBN franchise is set to expire this March, and bills are pending before the Senate and House of Representatives to have this extended.

On numerous occasions, President Duterte threatened to block the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise, accusing the network of biased reporting and riling against its failure to air his political advertisement during the 2016 campaign.

Under the 1987 Constitution, the granting of a franchise to television and radio companies is a power lodged in Congress

International group Human Rights Watch decried President Duterte’s moves blocking the franchise renewal, taking it as a curtailment of press freedom. The group added that lawmakers should remain “independent” from the President’s whims.

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