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House probe sought on TV5 franchise, block time deal with ABS-CBN

The House of Representatives should look into the franchise of television network TV5 for possible violations over its alleged foreign ownership and its block time agreement with ABS-CBN network, three lawmakers said in separate resolutions.

In House Resolution No. 280, Zamboanga Sibugay Representative Wilter Palma directed the committee on legislative franchises to conduct an inquiry amid “published reports alleging that ABC Development Corporation, presently known as TV5 actually owned by an Indonesian national."

“If this allegation that TV5 Network, Inc. is owned by an Indonesian national is true, then there is clear violation of the 1987 Constitution, and on the terms and conditions of the franchise granted to TV5 Network Inc. which must be thoroughly and efficiently looked into in the interest of the public,” the resolution added.

Quezon Rep. David Suarez, in his House Resolution No. 281, cited Section 10 of TV5’s franchise that prohibits it, among others, “to grant the usufruct of rights and privileges to any person, firm, company, corporation or any commercial or legal entity without the approval of Congress.”

"Without enabling legislation regulating block time agreements, radio and television networks with expired legislative franchise and whose applications for the renewal or grant of new franchise were denied may indirectly continue broadcasting their programs and content on free television through networks with valid legislative franchise which would be a clear circumvention of the law," Suarez said.

House Resolution No. 282 of TGP party-list Jose Teves Jr. said that the airing of ABS-CBN's news program …in other networks should be investigated because the network, without a franchise, "finds ways to broadcast its programs into agreements with other networks with legislative franchises."

“Given the possible violations committed by these networks, there is a need to determine whether their legislative franchises are being implemented and carried out in accordance with the intent of Congress and whether or not they should be amended, altered or repealed by Congress in the interest of the public,” Teves said.

Last week, the media networks announced their investment agreement that will allow ABS-CBN to "acquire 6,459,393 primary (new) common shares in TV5 representing 34.99% of the total voting and outstanding capital stock of TV5 for an aggregate subscription price of P2.16 billion."

Sagip party-list Rep. Rodante Marcoleta said the Philippine Competition Commission should carefully review the agreement to ensure it is in accordance with the law as it may lead to a monopoly.—LDF, GMA News