MANILA - ABS-CBN president and CEO Carlo Katigbak thanked the supporters of the network on Friday, after lawmakers denied the company another 25-year franchise in what was dubbed as the country's "longest franchise hearing in history."
Katigbak said they were "deeply hurt" by the decision of lawmakers, but the company's supporters gave them strength, as they remain hopeful that “the story of the Filipino will shine again.”
Here is Katigbak’s full statement:
We are deeply hurt that the Committee on Legislative Franchises has denied the franchise application of ABS-CBN. We believe that we have been rendering service that is meaningful and valuable to the Filipino public. Nevertheless, we would like to thank the Committee for allowing us a chance to air our side on all the issues raised against us.
ABS-CBN would like to thank all the congressmen who stood by their bills to renew our franchise, or who spoke out on our behalf during the hearings. We are forever grateful.
We also thank everyone who expressed their support and offered their prayers for us. We could not have gotten to this point without you.
We remain committed to public service, and we hope to find other ways to achieve our mission. Together with our employees and our audiences all over the world, we share in your sadness over this setback. We look forward to the day when we can again reunite under our broadcast.
Mga Kapamilya, thank you for keeping the faith with us.
Kapit lang, muling magliliwanag ang kwento ng bawat Pilipino.
(Hold on, the story of the Filipino will shine again.)
After 12 hearings of more than 100 hours and a summation, the House Committee on legislative franchises voted against granting ABS-CBN a new franchise to continue its broadcasts.
ABS-CBN officials testified that the company fully complied with its franchise provisions. This was backed by statements of several government agencies including the Securities and Exchange Commission, Bureau of Internal Revenue, Department of Justice, the Bureau of Immigration, among others.
Lawmakers probed ABS-CBN chairman emeritus Eugenio "Gabby" Lopez III's citizenship, ABS-CBN Holdings' Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDRs), KBO's pay-per-view feature, tax delinquencies, labor issues, and the Lopez family's reacquisition of the TV network seized by the Marcos administration during martial law.
The Department of Justice said during the hearings that Eugenio "Gabby" Lopez III is a Filipino by birth, despite being born in the United States, because his parents are both Filipinos.
ABS-CBN Holdings' PDRs do not reflect transfer of ownership to foreigners, SEC Commissioner Ephyro Luis Amatong said. The issuance of such financial instrument did not violate the Constitutional cap on foreign ownership, ABS-CBN said.
The Bureau of Internal Revenue said the network has no tax delinquencies, and a senior labor department official said ABS-CBN was fully compliant with labor laws.
The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) said ABS-CBN's TVPlus digital broadcast was in compliance with the government's digital migration plan.
The network shut its free tv and radio broadcasting on May 5, following a cease and desist order from the NTC.
Another order was released in June for the shutdown of its TVPlus channels and Sky Direct.
The shutdown has deprived more than "69 million Filipinos" of information and entertainment, the kind of public service that ABS-CBN has provided for over 60 years.
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