OSG files petition for quo warranto against ABS-CBN

MANILA, Philippines – The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), led by Solicitor General Jose C. Calida, today filed a petition for quo warranto at the Supreme Court to forfeit the legislative franchises of ABS-CBN Corporation and its subsidiary, ABS-CBN Convergence, Inc.

Solicitor General Jose C. Calida
Solicitor General Jose C. Calida | Photo Credit: Presidential Communications Operations Office

“We want to put an end to what we discovered to be highly abusive practices of ABS-CBN benefitting a greedy few at the expense of millions of its loyal subscribers. These practices have gone unnoticed or were disregarded for years,” Calida said.

According to the OSG, its petition will show that ABS-CBN has been broadcasting for a fee, which is beyond the scope of its legislative franchise. Further, the media giant, hiding behind an elaborately crafted corporate veil, has been allowing foreign investors to take part in the ownership of a Philippine mass media entity, in gross violation of the foreign interest restriction of mass media provided under Section 11, Article XVI of the Constitution.

UPDATE: ABS-CBN on OSG's quo warranto petition: We did not violate the law

“ABS-CBN abused the privilege granted by the State when it launched and operated a pay-per-view channel in ABS-CBN TV Plus, the KBO Channel, without prior approval or permit from the National Telecommunications Commission. While it is true that broadcasting is a business, the welfare of the people must not be sacrificed in the pursuit of profit,” Calida said.

OSG added that ABS-CBN had issued Philippine Deposit Receipts (PDRs) through ABS-CBN Holdings Corporation to foreigners, in violation of the foreign ownership restriction on mass media in the Constitution.

Section 11, Article XVI of the Constitution provides that the ownership and management of mass media shall be limited to citizens of the Philippines, or to corporations, cooperatives or associations, wholly-owned and managed by such citizens.

“This simply means that mass media companies operating in the Philippines must be 100 percent Filipino owned because they play an integral role in a nation’s economic, political, and socio-cultural landscape,” the solicitor general said.

OSG claims that ABS-CBN Convergence, Inc. (formerly Multi-Media Telepony, Inc.) resorted to an ingenious corporate layering scheme in order to transfer its franchise without the necessary Congressional approval. "It also 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."

“The legislative franchises of ABS-CBN Corporation and its subsidiary, ABS-CBN Convergence, Inc., must be revoked. A franchise is a special privilege granted by the State, and should be restricted only to entities which faithfully adhere to our Constitution and laws,” Calida said.

— The Summit Express

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