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Supreme Court junks ABS-CBN petition against NTC halt order

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The Supreme Court (SC) has dismissed the petition of broadcast firm ABS-CBN against the cease and desist order issued by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) after its legislative franchise expired last May.

In a statement, the high court cited the “supervening denial of the pending House bills for the renewal of the firm’s legislative franchise” in July and found it appropriate to dismiss the case on the ground of mootness.

“Because of this supervening event, there is no actual substantial relief which ABS-CBN Corporation would be entitled to regardless of the Court’s disposition of the merits of the petition,” it said.

Associate Justice Priscilla Baltazar-Padilla took no part as she was on leave in the ruling by the court which voted unanimously to dismiss the petition.

In a 70-11 vote on July 10, the House committee on legislative franchises denied the application for a legislative franchise of the firm.

Previous House hearings have discussed the network’s franchise issues, including the citizenship of ABS-CBN chair emeritus Gabby Lopez; possible violation of the constitutional limits on foreign ownership; reported labor and tax violations; and other violations on the terms of its legislative franchise.

Last June, the SC dismissed a petition filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida in February, which had sought to terminate the franchise of the firm after the court ruled that his quo warranto suit had been mooted by the expiry of the broadcast firm’s franchise.

Calida, in opposing ABS CBN’s continued operation, claims that the firm illegally acquired smaller corporations that have legislative franchises over frequencies and used investment schemes to circumvent the constitutional restriction on foreign ownership of mass media entities.

ABS-CBN stopped its television and radio broadcasts on May 5 after the NTC issued a cease and desist order following the expiration of the network’s 25-year legislative franchise on May 4.

On June 30, the NTC issued another cease and desist order directing the media network to stop operating its digital television transmission using Amcara Broadcasting Corp.’s Channel 43.

The order affected programs aired on ABS-CBN’s TVPlus offerings, which include Cine Mo!, Yey!, DZMM Teleradyo, Jeepney TV, Asianovela Channel, and its pay-per-view channel KBO. (Benjamin Pulta, PNA)

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