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SolGen Files Quo Warranto Petition vs ABS-CBN; Broadcast Network’s Future at Stake and in the Hands of Congress

ABS-CBN is on the news today, literally as it happens, as they are embroiled in a quo warranto petition filed by government lawyers earlier this Monday, Feb. 10 morning.

Solicitor General Jose Calida led his office by filing a quo warranto petition asking the Supreme Court to forfeit the legislative franchise of ABS-CBN Corporation and its subsidiary, ABS-CBN Convergence, Inc.

The petition arises on the basis that the broadcast network is operating a “pay-per-view channel in ABS-CBN TV Plus, the KBO Channel, without prior approval or permit from the National Telecommunicarions Commisssion (NTC) while “benefitting a greedy few at the expense of its loyal subscribers,” according to Calida in one of his statements today.

The Hands that Rock the Franchise

ABS-CBN’s franchise will expire in March and chances are slim for the broadcast network to have its franchise renewed, when of all people, the head of the country has a grudge to hold and could prevent the renewal from happening.

President Rodrigo Duterte slammed the media network for not airing his paid political advertisements during the 2016 presidential campaign. And while everyone were hyped with the new year’s eve celebration last year, Duterte challenged the network to just ‘sell it’ to other business empires because it is unlikely that the Congress will renew its franchise. Or to simply put it in the most layman understanding, ‘as long as he is the President of the Philippines‘.

ABS-CBN’s current franchise was approved on March 30, 1995 through Republic Act No. 7966 and will expire on March 20, 2020.

A Close Shop

If everything goes south and the bill renewing the franchise is not signed into law, ABS-CBN will be closing shop all its radio and television operations.

Not only the livelihood of talents and employees of the broadcast network will be affected but also its exclusive digital sub-channels on their TV Plus will suffer a momentarily setback once ABS-CBN ceased operation. Stocks will dip low and celebrites and media personalities may opt to transfer on another network to be consistently relevant.

More Reasons to Shift to Something New

However, websites and social media accounts owned by the network could still work and remain functiional, independent from its mother broadcast radio and television channels.

It’s an optimistic outlook to the impending reality that ABS-CBN is facing but with or without franchise renewal, the company will stay and will be focusing on other projects – online.

Perhaps the franchise’s expiration and shift to digital platform were already foreseen ahead of this crucial moments when in fact during the Philippine International Convention Center’s DigiCon back in October 2019, Vivian Tin, Head of Integrated Customer Business Development seemingly had the notion to proclaim a move and take advantage of the digital technology.

You will see us move a lot faster in the next two to three years. You’ll see a lot more products and services that are going to be launched that do not feel like us because we are disrupting, and I think erasing the old self, and recreating something that’s new,” Tin said of what could be a ‘read between-the-line’ statement forshadowing an inevitable demise of the broadcast channel existence.

Analytics have shown that only 60% of the population watch television nowadays and it’s possible that frequency channels on TV won’t be the go-to source of entertainment anymore as more people spend their time online and streaming on-demand mobile app channels.

Maybe ABS-CBN might just pioneer this whole digital shift for all broadcast networks in the country. It just so happens that ABS-CBN’s shift (in case their franchise is not renewed) will be forcibly executed, a little bit sooner.

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