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House asks NTC to give ABS-CBN authority to operate as franchise nears expiry

The House Committee on Legislative Franchises has formally requested the National Telecommunications Commission to grant ABS-CBN a provisional authority to operate effective May 4 until the House of Representatives has made a decision on its franchise renewal application.

In a letter signed by the House panel chair Franz Alvarez and Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, the NTC is also urged to issue the same provisional authority to operate to ABS-CBN's subsidiaries and/or affiliates whose franchise applications are also pending with the House panel, namely ABS-CBN Convergence, Inc., Sky Cable Corporation, and Amcara Broadcasting Network, Inc.

Alvarez and Cayetano informed the NTC that the House panel has already started its deliberations on the ABS-CBN franchise bills and asked concerned parties to submit position papers for or against the franchise application within 60 days from February 24.

They also asked the NTC to included in the respective provisional authorities the terms and conditions that need to be followed to ensure the protection of public interest consistent with applicable laws, rules, and regulations.

“As we have been saying from the start, since ABS-CBN will be allowed to continue its broadcast while we are hearing their renewal, there is no urgency that would justify a hasty proceeding. We want to be sure that this matter is given the importance it deserves," Cayetano said in a statement on Wednesday.

Currently, there are 11 bills filed at the House of Representatives seeking to renew the franchise of ABS-CBN.

On Monday, Alvarez announced the panel is now open to accepting position papers for or against the renewal of the ABS-CBN franchise, signalling the start of the proceedings of the chamber on the matter.

He said that once all positions papers have been taken into consideration, the panel can formally start deliberating on the ABS-CBN franchise renewal bills. This, however, could take place either in May or in August, after President Rodrigo Duterte's State of the Nation Address.—NB, GMA News