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Monday, December 4, 2023

SC zaps SolGen bid vs. ABS-CBN

The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed for being moot the quo warranto petition filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida against ABS-CBN Corporation, which was ordered to stop operation after its legislative franchise expired on May 4.

High court spokesperson Brian Keith Hosaka relayed the decision.

“I was able to confirm with Chief Justice [Diosdado] Peralta that the Supreme Court dismissed today during their En Banc meeting the Quo Warranto petition filed by the Solicitor General against ABS CBN Corporation on the ground of mootness,” Hosaka said in a text message.

However, the quo warranto case against ABS-CBN Convergence remains pending before the high court even if its franchise expired on March 17 ahead of the expiration of ABS-CBN’s franchise.

“Let us wait for the resolution of the Court on this matter,” Hosaka said.

The Supreme Court’s dismissal of the quo warranto petition against ABS-CBN had long been expected after the expiry of its franchise on May 4, which prompted the National Telecommunications Commission to issue a cease-and-desist order against the television giant.

The Office of the Solicitor General said it filed the quo warranto petition because it wanted “an end to what we discovered to be highly abusive practices of ABS-CBN benefitting a greedy few at the expense of its millions of loyal subscribers.”

ABS-CBN allegedly had been broadcasting for a fee, “an abuse of the privilege granted by the State when it launched and operated a pay-per-view channel in ABS-CBN TV Plus, the KBO (Kapamilya Box Office) Channel, without prior approval or permit from the NTC.”

In the KBO Channel, subscribers of ABS-CBN TV Plus, a device introduced by ABS-CBN to transmit a digital signal to television sets, would pay a certain fee to watch select movies weekly.

The Office of the Solicitor General also claimed that ABS-CBN issued Philippine Deposit Receipts through ABS-CBN Holdings Corporation to foreigners, which allegedly violated Article 16, Section 11 of the 1987 Constitution that limits ownership of mass media to Filipinos.

The chief state lawyer also said that the network’s subsidiary, ABS-CBN Convergence, “resorted to an ingenious corporate laying scheme in order to transfer its franchise without the necessary congressional approval.

“It 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, which is an indispensable condition in its franchise.”

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