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TIMELINE: The ABS-CBN franchise renewal saga




Embattled broadcast giant ABS-CBN Corporation is now facing its biggest challenge yet as the House Committee on Legislative Franchises has rejected the application for a new broadcast franchise.

The committee voted 70-11 in favor of junking ABS-CBN’s application for a franchise which dashed the hopes of the network to return to air.

Here are the key events in the broadcast giant’s saga for a franchise renewal:

30 March, 1995

Republic Act 7966 or otherwise known as an act granting the ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation a franchise to construct, install, operate and maintain television and radio broadcasting stations in the Philippines granted the network its franchise until 4 May 2020.

11 September, 2014

House Bill 4997 was filed by Isabela Rep. Giorgidi Aggabao and there were some lapses at the committee level.

11 June, 2016

The network giant issued a statement in reaction to a newspaper report, saying that the company had applied for a new franchise in September 2014, but ABS-CBN said it withdrew the application “due to time constraints.”

5 May, 2016

A 30-second political ad showing children raising questions about then Presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte’s foul language was aired on ABS-CBN and it explained it was “duty-bound to air a legitimate ad” based on election rules.

6 May, 2016

Then Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s running mate Alan Peter Cayetano files a temporary restraining order in a Taguig court against the anti-Duterte political advertisement.

10 November, 2016

Nueva Ecija Representative Micaela Violago filed House Bill 4349 seeking a fresh 25-year franchise for the broadcast network.

30 March, 2017

President Rodrigo Duterte blasted ABS-CBN and the Philippine Daily Inquirer in his speech, calling the broadcast network “trash” and the newspaper “bullshit” over what he claimed was their unfair reporting.

31 March, 2017

Duterte’s statements did not sit well with the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines and described Duterte’s mindset as that of a “petty tyrant who mistakenly believes public office is an entitlement.”

27 April, 2017

President Rodrigo Duterte again accused ABS-CBN of “swindling” because of a campaign ad that he had paid for but was not aired in 2016 and stressed that he would block the company’s bid for a new franchise.

19 May, 2017

President Rodrigo Duterte continues to lash out against ABS-CBN, raising the issue of the paid but unaired political ad the year before.

3 August, 2018

President Rodrigo Duterte said he would not “intervene” in ABS-CBN’s application for a new broadcast franchise.

30 August, 2018

Representatives Karlo Nograles and Jericho Nograles file House Bill 8163 seeking to renew the network’s franchise.

8 November, 2018

President Rodrigo Duterte reiterated that he will object to ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal.

1 July, 2019

The House Bill 4349 lapsed and was refiled in the 18th congress as HB 676 and signed by 20 more co-authors.

29 July, 2019

House Bill 3064 was filed by Rep. Jericho Nograles.

6 August, 2019

House Bill 3521 was filed by Rep. Rose Marie Arenas.

8 August, 2019

House Bill 3713 was filed by Rep. Joy Myra Tambunting.

14 August, 2019

House Bill 3947 filed by Laguna Rep. and former ABS-CBN reporter Sol Aragones.

28 August, 2019

Sen. Ralph Recto filed a counterpart Senate bill — SB 981.

2 September, 2019

House Bill 4305 was filed by Batangas Rep. Vilma Santos-Recto.

29 October, 2019

House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano says Congress will deliberate and at that point, there are five bills filed for ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal.

25 November, 2019

House Bill 5608 was filed by Rep. Aurelio Gonzales, Rep. Johnny Pimentel, Rep. Salvador Leachon.

3 December, 2019

President Rodrigo Duterte again threatened to block ABS-CBN’s application for a new franchise.

4 December, 2019

House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano revealed that Congress will no longer tackle franchise renewal in 2019 even as House Bill 5705 was filed by Rep. Rufus Rodriguez.

9 December, 2019

House Bill 5753 was filed by Rep. Josephine Ramirez-Sato.

30 December, 2019

In a speech, President Rodrigo Duterte said it would be better for owners to just sell ABS-CBN Corp, doubting that its broadcast franchise would be renewed.

6 January, 2020

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman filed House Resolution 639, urging plenary action on the eight pending House bills.

17 January, 2020

The NUJP led the first in a series of “Black Friday” protests against President Rodrigo Duterte’s attacks on ABS-CBN as the group called for the renewal of the network’s broadcast franchise.

27 January, 2020

House Bill 6052 was filed by the Makabayan bloc.

30 January, 2020

House Bill 6138 was filed by Baguio City Rep. Mark Go.

10 February, 2020

Solicitor General Jose Calida asked the Supreme Court to revoke the franchise of ABS-CBN Corp. and that of its subsidiary, ABS-CBN Convergence Inc., over alleged violations, which the company denied.

11 February, 2020

The Supreme Court gave ABS-CBN 10 days to respond to the Calida petition even as House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano promised to conduct “impartial” hearings.

February 12, 2020

With the House not moving on the franchise application, Sen. Grace Poe called for a hearing of her public services committee to look into ABS-CBN’s “compliance” with its 1995 franchise.

13 February, 2020

House Bill 6293 was filed by Rep. Loren Legarda.

14 February, 2020

A bigger rally in support of ABS-CBN was staged in front of its Sgt. Esguerra gate in Quezon City as House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said conducting hearings on the network’s franchise application was “not that urgent.”

17 February, 2020

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon filed a resolution extending ABS-CBN’s franchise until the end of 2022.

18 February, 2020

The Solicitor General went back to the Supreme Court seeking a gag order on ABS-CBN and “parties and persons acting on its behalf” and cited a digital explainer outlining the issues he raised in his quo warranto petition, and the company’s response.

21 February, 2020

ABS-CBN employees and supporters held a “unity walk” appealing on Congress to renew the company’s broadcast franchise. Senator Grace Poe said her committee had invited the Solicitor General to the upcoming hearing.

24 February, 2020

Senate Committee on Public Services holds hearing as ABS-CBN CEO and president Carlo Katigbak clarified the unaired political ads. He also apologized for the negative ads, saying that it was not intended to offend the President.

ABS-CBN has also filed its response to Calida’s quo warranto petition.

The Bureau of Internal Revenue, Labor department and the National Telecommunications Commission cleared ABS-CBN of violation allegations.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said that the NTC can grant provisional authority.

26 February, 2020

The House Committee on Legislative Franchises asked the National Telecommunications Commission to issue a provisional authority for ABS-CBN’s continued operations while the chamber deliberated on its application for a new franchise.

President Rodrigo Duterte also accepted Carlo Katigbak’s apology and told ABS-CBN to donate the P2.9M political ad refund to charity

CDO Rep Rufus Rodriguez filed House Joint Resolution 29 seeking to extend franchise until May 2021, while Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman called for franchise renewal instead of issuing joint resolutions.

4 March, 2020

Senate passes SRN-344 authorizing the NTC to issue provisional authority.

5 March, 2020

Lawyer Larry Gadon went to the Supreme Court questioning the House committee’s move instructing the NTC to grant provisional authority to ABS-CBN.

10 March, 2020

The Supreme Court deferred action on the Solicitor General’s petition seeking to take ABS-CBN off the air.

The House of Representatives finally held a hearing on ABS-CBN’s application for a new franchise, spending much of the discussions setting the ground rules.

The NTC assured congressmen that it would issue a provisional authority allowing ABS-CBN to remain on the air even after its franchise expired on 4 May, 2020.

11 March, 2020

NTC Commissioner Gabriel Cordoba says it will allow ABS-CBN to continue operations pending franchise renewal.

Congress goes on recess and the bills for franchise renewal were not passed.

1 May, 2020

House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said that the House of Representatives has “no intention” to order network closure.

3 May, 2020

On the eve of the expiration of ABS-CBN’s franchise, the Solicitor General warned the NTC against issuing a provisional authority to the country’s largest media and entertainment company. He said such authority could be given only if there’s a valid legislative franchise.

4 May, 2020

ABS-CBN’s broadcast franchise expires and Malacañang said it will not interfere and will let the NTC decide.

5 May, 2020

The NTC issues a cease and desist order (CDO) against ABS-CBN’s television and broadcast operations, citing the network’s expired franchise. In compliance with the order, which the NTC says is immediately executory, ABS-CBN went off air at 7:52 p.m.

7 May, 2020

The broadcast giant asked the Supreme Court for a temporary restraining order to stop the implementation of the CDO issued by the NTC.

13 May, 2020

The House of Representatives approves on second reading a bill granting a provisional franchise to ABS-CBN Corp, valid through October 2020.

18 May, 2020

ABS-CBN has urged the Supreme Court to immediately act on its plea to resume its broadcast operation in a bid to stop millions of pesos in revenue loss and protect the jobs of 11,000 workers.

19 May, 2020

The Supreme Court accepts the case.

ABS-CBN CEO and President Carlo Katigbak told a Senate hearing that the company may “consider” retrenching workers by August if it fails to resume broadcast soon, citing financial losses every month.

The House of Representatives decided to stop deliberations on the proposed provisional franchise for ABS-CBN, opting instead to hear bills for a 25-year franchise.

House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said the House of Representatives would be “ready to decide” on a new 25-year franchise for ABS-CBN Corp. by August, as the Committee on Legislative Franchises set the first hearing for the ABS-CBN franchise bills on 26 May, 2020.

26 May, 2020

The Committees on Legislative Franchises and Good Government and Public Accountability of the House of Representatives began joint hearings on pending measures for ABS-CBN’s fresh 25-year license to operate, and issues surrounding its franchise.

1 June, 2020

Solicitor General Jose Calida attended a hearing on ABS-CBN’s franchise for the first time since questioning it before the Supreme Court.

3 June, 2020

Lawmakers questioned ABS-CBN chairman emeritus Eugenio “Gabby” Lopez III on his citizenship. The Department of Justice said Lopez is a Filipino citizen from birth.

11 June, 2020

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said ABS-CBN Holdings Corp. did not violate its regulations when it issued Philippine Deposit Receipts (PDRs).

The Supreme Court said it would tackle on 13 July, 2020 ABS-CBN Corp’s urgent plea to resume broadcast operations.

15 June, 2020

Lawmakers questioned how the Lopez family regained control of the network after the martial rule of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, while the Justice department and the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) said the Lopez family did not lose ownership of ABS-CBN even if it was seized by the Marcos government.

23 June, 2020

The Supreme Court dismissed the Solicitor General’s quo warranto petition questioning ABS-CBN Corp’s franchise for it was “moot and academic.” It earlier junked a petition filed by lawyer Lorenzo Gadon on the ground of having “no legal standing.”

29 June, 2020

At the continuation of the hearings of the two House committees, the NTC said it would heed the advice of the Office of the Solicitor General to shut down the Kapamilya Channel, which airs some of ABS-CBN Corp’s shows through cable and satellite television.

Congressmen also looked into ABS-CBN’s compliance with labor laws, with the Department of Labor and Employment saying the network was “fully compliant” with industry standards.

30 June, 2020

The NTC issued alias cease-and-desist orders against ABS-CBN’s digital broadcast on TVPlus in Metro Manila, and SKY’s satellite broadcast nationwide. ABS-CBN complied with the orders.

1 July, 2020

The Bureau of Internal Revenue told lawmakers that ABS-CBN Corp. has no current tax delinquency.

2 July, 2020

At the continuation of the House hearings, the Philippine Economic Zone Authority debunked allegations that the network was using its subsidiaries overseas to avoid tax payments.

10 July, 2020

The Committee on Legislative Franchises voted to reject a new broadcast franchise for ABS-CBN Corp., permanently shutting down a major part of the country’s largest media network.