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NTC set to review ABS-CBN and TV5 joint venture

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The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) is set to review the deal that would allow ABS-CBN to broadcast its programs on TV5 following the former’s failure to renew its broadcasting franchise in 2020, according to a report by Philippine News Agency.

In an interview over Radyo Pilipinas on Thursday, NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba said there would be a thorough review of the proposed joint venture between the two broadcasting companies due to the outstanding violations of ABS-CBN revealed during the investigation made by the 18th Congress in 2020.

The deal, Cordoba said, would allow ABS-CBN to have part ownership of TV5 and would allow the former to “ride” the broadcasting franchise of the latter.

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“Hindi po sila makakuha ng sariling prangkisa, so ang ginagawa po nila is sasakay po sila dito sa prangkisa po ng TV5. Pero hanggang ngayon po ay bitbit po nila ang kanilang mga violations kahit dati pa po iyon (They can’t secure their own franchise, so what they will do is ride the franchise of TV5. But until now they are still burdened with their old violations),” he said.

He announced the release of NTC Memorandum Order 3-06-2022 that would prohibit a “franchise grantee” to enter into “mergers, joint ventures, sale, or any commercial agreement arrangements on matters within the Commission’s mandate and jurisdiction.”

“Dapat po ang franchise grantee ay hindi po makikipag-enter ng commercial arrangement sa isang entity na may mga obligasyon po sa national and local government (The franchise grantee should not be able to enter into a commercial arrangement with an entity that still has obligations with the national and local government),” he said.

The franchise grantee, he said, will have to ensure that clearances have been obtained from the “appropriate government agencies” such as the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), Bureau of Customs, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the NTC.

“Kasama po rito ang Department of Justice (DOJ), Land Registration Authority (LRA), nabanggit din po ni Congressman [Rodante] Marcoleta ang Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) at ang iba pa po (This would include the DOJ, the LRA, and Congressman Marcoleta mentioned the PCC, and others),” he said.

The NTC’s next step would be to have the two companies submit a copy of their signed commercial agreement along with clearances from the said relevant government agencies.

He noted that the memorandum states that the NTC would need to approve before “consummation” of such a partnership.

To date, he said the NTC is yet to see the details of the partnership agreement to find out whether the deal violates any government regulations.

In response to allegations that the NTC continues to pressure or violate ABS-CBN’s freedom of speech, he said a broadcast franchise is a “privilege, not a right” and that the recently released memorandum applies to all franchise holders.

“Bumili po kayo ng lupa, bago po ninyo mai-transfer ang lupa sa inyong pangalan ay kailangan pong bayaran ang lahat ng real property taxes dito, ‘di po ba? Parang ganoon po iyon (For example, you purchase a parcel of land and before the deed is transferred to your name, all real property taxes would need to be paid, right? This is similar),” he said.

Earlier, the ABS-CBN Corporation announced its plan to acquire 6.46 million new common shares of the TV5 Network Inc., representing 34.99 percent of its total voting and outstanding capital stock for PHP2.16 billion.

Following the acquisition, MediaQuest Holdings, Inc. -- the operator of TV5 -- will have 64.79 percent of voting and capital stock and would still have controlling stock of the network.


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