Solon urges NTC, BIR to investigate ABS-CBN-Zoe blocktime deal

MANILA, Philippines – A lawmaker is urging the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) and Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to look into the blocktime deal between ABS-CBN and Zoe Broadcasting Network.

Solon urges NTC, BIR to investigate ABS-CBN-Zoe blocktime deal

Newly installed House minority leader ABANG LINGKOD party-list Rep. Joseph Stephen Paduano cited there might be "legal issues" with the blocktime agreement that needs to be investigated. He said it is within their right and responsibility to look into such matters.

During a virtual press briefing for House reporters, Paduano said, "Let the NTC do the study or investigation on that matter. Then NTC will recommend it to Congress, to the Committee on Franchise, and the committee will act on it. We also have the responsibility and the right to investigate it."

Paduano raised the issue of taxes of Zoe channel. As a religious broadcasting entity, Zoe has a tax-exempt status but by showing ABS-CBN shows, Paduano said BIR should probe if it will still retain its status.

"Once you’re a commercial TV or network, you have to pay your taxes. ‘Yan ang issue ko doon sa ABS-CBN eh. The profits of ABS-CBN goes to Big Dipper (because they are accredited by PEZA). That’s tax evasion. May issue talaga kapag ganyan (There’s really an issue there). You have to pay your taxes,” he said.

“If somebody will file a case against Zoe with regards to tax, let’s leave that to the court for now. Tignan natin kung ano (Let’s see what happens). But of course the BIR should check on it and the NTC. Kasi di ba dapat kapag commercial ka (If you’re a commercial entity) you have to pay your taxes,” he added.

Zoe is owned by Jesus is Lord Church leader and CIBAC party-list Rep. Eddie Villanueva, who is currently the deputy speaker of the 18th Congress.

After ABS-CBN lost its franchise, it entered into a blocktime deal with Zoe to air several of its shows on free TV. "Blocktiming" means buying blocks of air time to produce programs independent of networks and stations.

It can be recalled that during the height of ABS-CBN's franchise house hearing, Paduano withdrew House Bill No. 3713, a bill he co-authored which aimed to provide the network another 25-year franchise.

— Sally, The Summit Express

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