Justice dept's opinion on ABS-CBN franchise extension out next week

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 20 2020 12:47 PM | Updated as of Feb 20 2020 02:29 PM

Members of Kilusang Mayo Uno join press freedom advocates and supporters during a solidarity event calling for the renewal of the ABS-CBN franchise along Sgt. Esguerra Avenue, Quezon City on Feb 14, 2020. Gigie Cruz, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — Justice Secretary Menardo Gueverra said Thursday his agency will release next week an opinion on whether regulators should extend the franchise of ABS-CBN Corp. if lawmakers fail to pass a law for it before the expiration of the company's current franchise.

The justice department is "studying" the National Telecommunications Commission's request for a legal opinion on the matter, Guevarra said.

"We got the request last Tuesday... We'll reply by next week," he told ABS-CBN in a text message.

The NTC in several instances had issued provisional licenses to operate for networks whose franchises were still being heard in Congress, Sen. Christopher "Bong" Go, a longtime aide of President Rodrigo Duterte, said earlier.

Duterte has repeatedly threatened to deny ABS-CBN a new franchise after the expiry of its current broadcast license on March 30, accusing the company of failing to air his campaign ads for the 2016 elections.

Last week, Solicitor General Jose Calida initiated a move to invalidate the current franchise of ABS-CBN by filing a quo warranto petition at the Supreme Court over alleged violations by the network in the terms of its franchise and of the foreign ownership regulation.

ABS-CBN said it did not violate any law in its 65 years of service.

-- Report from Johnson Manabat, ABS-CBN News