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No need for Congress’ nod if ABS-CBN secures block time deal with TV5, says Ridon

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Broadcast giant ABS-CBN can bypass Congress’ nod if the company decides to pursue buying block airtime from other media conglomerate as their current congressional franchise is set to expire by the end of March.

InfrawatchPH lead convenor Terry Ridon made the statement following the remarks made by businessman Manny V. Pangilinan that the Metro Pacific-controlled TV5 can offer a block time deal with the Kapamilya network which is currently facing an impending closure if it fails to secure a new legislative franchise from Congress before March 30.

Ridon, former Kabataan Party-list congressman and a member of the House Committee on Legislative Franchises during the 16th Congress said a congressional concurrence is no longer needed if the possible block time deal with ABS-CBN and TV or other media entity will prosper in the days ahead.

“Kapag ili-lease lang nila yung mga oras hindi na kailangan,” said Ridon.

Ridon stressed that a congressional concurrence will be needed by the Lopez Group if ABS-CBN decides to buy another existing network since its existing congressional franchise—which was drafted through normal process of legislation—needs to be amended by members of Congress.

“Kapag yung franchise mismo, like bibilhin yung majority stocks, dun kailangan ng congressional approval,” said Ridon.

Pangilinan earlier said he was open to negotiations with the Kapamilya Network should they materialize.

“Setting aside politics, if they want to block time, we are prepared to talk,” said Pangilinan.

Last December 30, President Rodrigo Duterte who have accused ABS-CBN of biased reporting and of “swindling” him said that the executives of the media conglomerate should just sell the network rather than face closure.

“Itong ABS, mag-expire ang contract ninyo, mag-renew kayo, ewan ko lang kung mangyari. Ako pa sa’yo, pagbili na ninyo ‘yan,” said Duterte during a speech in Davao City.

The Lopez family could suffer a “double whammy” from Duterte’s wrath since not only broadcast giant ABS-CBN will cease its operations if it fails to secure renewal of its franchise from Congress, but also its sister company Sky Cable.

Sky Cable Corporation which is under the Lopez Holdings Corporation (formerly Benpres Holdings) needs to secure the passage of their congressional franchise on or before March 30, 2020—the expiration date set by its current franchise under Republic Act No. 7969—or the said entity will have to cease operating as company involved in broadband, cable and satellite television services if Congress fails to act on the franchise bill.

North Cotabato Rep. Jose “Ping” Tejada last August filed House Bill No. 3121, seeking to grant a 25-year franchise to the Lopez entity “to establish, construct, maintain and operate for commercial purposes cable/community antennae television systems in the Philippines.” J

Just like ABS-CBN, the House Committee on Legislative Franchises, chaired by Palawan Rep. Franz “Chicoy” Alvarez has yet to tackle the proposed legislation in connection with the franchise renewal of the cable television giant.

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