The office of the Solicitor General is asking the Supreme Court for the revocation of the franchise of television network ABS-CBN.
On Monday, Feb.10, Solicitor-General Jose Calida filed a quo warranto petition seeking for the forfeiture of the legislative franchises of ABS-CBN and its subsidiary, ABS-CBN Convergence Inc.
“We want to put an end to what we discovered to be highly abusive practices of ABS-CBN benefiting a greedy few at the expense of millions of its loyal subscribers,” Calida said in a statement.
Calida stressed that the abusive practices of the media group has gone unnoticed and has been disregarded for years.
The OSG said that their petition will show that ABS-CBN has been broadcasting for a fee, which is beyond the scope of their legislative franchise.
Calida insisted that ABS-CBN abused the privilege granted by the Philippine government by launching and operating a pay-per-view channel in ABS-CBN TV Plus, the KBO Channel, without prior approval or permit from the National Telecommunications Commission.
“While it is true that broadcasting is a business, the welfare of the people must not be sacrificed in the pursuit of profit,” the Solicitor General said.
Furthermore, the OSG said that the media giant, hiding behind an ‘elaborately crafted corporate veil’, has been allowing foreign investors to take part in the ownership of a Philippine mass media entity, in gross violation of the foreign interest restriction of mass media provided under Sec. 11. Article XVI of the Constitution.
The OSG accused ABS-CBN of issuing Philippine Deposit Receipts through ABS-CBN Holdings Corp. to foreign nationals.
Sec. 11, Article XVI of the Constitution states that ‘the ownership and management of mass media shall be limited to citizens of the Philippines, or to corporations, cooperatives or associations, wholly-owned and managed by such citizens’.
“This simply means that mass media companies operating in the Philippines must be 100 percent Filipino owned because they play an integral role in a nation’s economic, political, and socio-cultural landscape,” Calida said.
The OSG also said that ABS-CBN Convergence Inc., formerly known as Multi-Media Telepony Inc., resorted to an ingenious corporate layering scheme in order to transfer its franchise without the necessary Congressional approval.
The Solicitor General said that ABS-CBN failed to publicly offer any of its outstanding capital stock to any securities exchange within the Philippines within five years from the start of its operations, an indispensable condition in its franchise.
“The legislative franchises of ABS-CBN Corporation and its subsidiary, ABS-CBN Convergence Inc., must be revoked,” Calida said.
“A franchise is a special privilege granted by the State, and should be restricted only to entities which faithfully adhere to our Constitution and laws,” he added.
Calida, meanwhile, denied that the filing of quo warranto petition is a political move against ABS-CBN.