Congress to review IBC-13 and RPN-9 franchises

THE House of Representatives is set to review the status of two government television stations relative to possible violations of their legislative franchise.

The House of Representatives has approved on second reading House Resolution No. 2854 “directing the House Committee on Legislative Franchise to conduct an investigation, in aid of legislation, on the current status of the International Broadcasting Corporation (IBC), a holder of a legislative franchise under Republic Act 8954, to determine if there are possible violations on its franchise.

Rep. Giorgidi Aggabao (4th District, Isabela), principal author of the resolution asked the committee to summon their officials to shed light on the matter.

Aggabao said IBC has entered into an agreement with several companies like Vintage Television (VTV), which later merged with Viva Television in 2000 covering the Philippines Basketball Association (PBA).

On the other hand, RPN Channel 9, has entered into a joint venture with Solar Entertainment Corporation in January 2011, he said.

Aggabao further noted that Kitchie Benedicto, daughter of Roberto Benedicto an alleged Marcos crony, is the owner of a 34% minority share in RPN-9.

Records show that Congress granted IBC-13 a new 25-year legislative franchise under Republic Act 8954 on June 5, 2011. The network then signed a block-time agreement with TV5’s Sports 5 to air live coverage other sports via its new programming AKTV.

The lawmaker added that IBC Channel 13 also entered into a joint venture agreement with Prime Realty, an affiliate of R-II Builders Group of Reghis Romero for the development of 3.5 hectares Broadcast City.

Aggabao noted that RA 8954 provides that “the grantee shall not lease, transfer, grant the usufruct of, sell, nor assign this franchise or the rights and privileges acquired thereunder to any person, form, company, corporation or entity, nor shall the controlling interest of the grantee be transferred, whether as a whole or in parts and whether simultaneously or contemporaneously, to any such person, firm or company, corporation or entity without the prior approval of the Congress of the Philippines. Any person or entity to which this franchise is sold, transferred or assigned, shall be subject to the same conditions, terms restrictions and limitations of this Act.”

During the administration of then President Cory Aquino, the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) sequestered both IBC and RPN in favor of the government by virtue of being owned by the Benedicto family.

Even with the existence of joint venture agreements with private enterprises, Aggabao said the government is inclined to privatize both the IBC and RPN and retain the People’s Television (PTV, Channel 4) as the sole-mandated government TV network.

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