A leader of the House of Representatives has accused ABS-CBN Corp. of fraud when the media network claimed to be a mere “blocktimer” at Amcara Broadcasting Network, which appears to be a company owned by the media giant.
Senior Deputy Majority Leader and Cavite Rep. Jesus Crispin Remulla described ABS-CBN’s blocktime agreement with Amcara as an alibi to circumvent the power of Congress over legislative franchises.
“It shows there is an element of fraud on the part of ABS-CBN against the legislative powers of Congress,” Remulla said at the continuation of the joint hearing of the House Committees on Legislative Franchises and on Good Government and Public Accountability.
Amcara, whose own 25-year legislative franchise is expiring in November, continued to air ABS-CBN’s programs through Channel 43 and TV Plus, even after the National Telecommunications Commission issued a cease and desist order against the Kapamilya network on May 5 due to its expired legislative franchise.
This prompted the NTC to issue an alias CDO against ABS-CBN on June 30, saying both Channel 43 and TV Plus were effectively covered by the original closure order against the network giant.
At Thursday’s hearing, NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba disclosed that Amcara has no equipment and permit to operate digital television.
Cordoba also said that right after the alias CDO was served on ABS-CBN, NTC engineers inspected its premises to monitor and locate the signal source of Channel 43 assigned to Amcara.
“Based on the results of the RNS video monitoring equipment, we observed that there is an existing broadcast propagation on 6 megahertz band and the result of the measurement shows that the strong signal is emanating from the direction of ABS-CBN’s tower along Mother Ignacia Street, Quezon City,” Cordoba said, quoting the report of the NTC engineers.
In response to the NTC’s findings on Channel 43’s signal, Amcara chairman Rodrigo Carandang said such was the case because it was ABS-CBN that had purchased the transmitter for its test broadcast on the channel prior to 2019.
It was revealed that the two companies later executed a deed of assignment for ABS-CBN’s digital TV transmitters. But according to Carandang, the agreement has yet to be submitted to the NTC for approval.
ABS-CBN also has an annual blocktime agreement with Amcara, thus the company was able to use Channel 43 to air Kapamilya shows for digital broadcast on TVPlus.
Following Cordoba’s revelation, Remulla suggested that the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) be asked to help Congress investigate the veracity of the NTC findings.
Remulla’s call was supported by Anakalusugan Party-list Rep. Michael Defensor, one of the lawmakers who expressed serious doubts on ABS-CBN’s claim that it does not own Amcara.
“I join [Remulla] with his personal collective privilege. Ito po talaga ay wala tayong ginigipit, batas ang sinusunod natin,” Defensor said.
“If there will be a call by [Remulla] for the NBI to look into this, we have the reports of the NTC, then I will join him,” he added.
For his part, House Deputy Speaker and SAGIP Party-list Rep. Rodante Marcoleta insisted that ABS-CBN engaged in usufruct or the use of another entity’s property for its own gains with its blocktime deal with Amcara.
Amcara started its broadcasts using Channel 23. However, Channel 23 was renamed Studio 23 in 2010 and was rebranded as ABS-CBN Sports and Action in 2014.
ABS-CBN disclosed in 2012 that it had invested or advanced 49 percent of equity interest or ownership in Amcara, which ABS-CBN considers as one of its subsidiaries.