Trading of ABS-CBN shares suspended after shutdown ordered by govt.

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 6) – Shares of media giant ABS-CBN were placed by the local bourse on a trading halt Wednesday, a day after the network signed off to comply with the National Telecommunications Commission's cease and desist order.

In an advisory, the Philippine Stock Exchange said, aside from the order, the suspension was made "pursuant to existing rules, applicable laws and regulations in order to maintain a fair, efficient and orderly trading market."

The PSE also required ABS-CBN to submit a full disclosure on the order's impact on "the business, financial condition, operations, and prospects of the Company, as well as its business continuity plan, risk mitigation measures, and such other material information for the investing public."

The trading halt also covers the Philippine Deposit Receipts issued by ABS-CBN Holdings Corporation, the stock exchange added.

Trading will resume on trading day after ABS-CBN successfully disseminates the said disclosure to the investing public, the PSE said.

Meanwhile, the share price of GMA Network, the media conglomerate's biggest rival, rose to ₱5.90 on Wednesday, 23.69 percent up from the ₱4.77 close the day before.

In a disclosure to the local bourse, GMA said it "is not aware of any undisclosed information that could have triggered the unusual price movement" of its shares. However, the network mentioned the cease and desist order the NTC had issued to ABS-CBN.

Fellow listed media firm Manila Broadcasting Company also saw a spike in its share price a day after the beleaguered network's shutdown. From ₱10.64 on Tuesday, the price climbed by 31.58 percent to ₱14 on May 6.

The NTC ordered the broadcast giant on Tuesday to stop operations, due to the expiry of its legislative franchise. ABS-CBN signed off at 7:52 p.m. on the same day.

The shutdown covers five AM stations, including DZMM, 18 FM stations and 42 TV stations, including Channels 2 and 23.

The commission gave the network ten days to explain why the frequencies assigned to it should not be recalled.

The NTC had earlier committed to the House Committee on Legislative Franchises that it will give ABS-CBN a provisional authority to operate, pending the granting of a fresh 25-year franchise to the company.

However, Solicitor General Jose Calida opposed this, saying no law has delegated to the NTC the powers of Congress to approve franchises and warning graft charges for Commissioners, should they keep their promise.

On Wednesday, Calida added that the Commission should not be blamed, as it is only following the law, adding ABS-CBN's renewal is up to Congress.

"Without a valid and subsisting franchise from Congress, the NTC cannot allow any broadcasting entity from operating in the country," he said.

Numerous bills seeking to grant ABS-CBN Corporation a fresh 25-year franchise remain pending in Congress.

Some business organizations have also expressed concern over the broadcast giant's shutdown.

In a joint statement, the Makati Business Club, along with Management Association of the Philippines, Shareholders' Association of the Philippines Inc., and Bishops-Businessmen's Conference for Human Development said the shutdown is "a setback in a time when the country needs to be united against the pandemic."

The groups also expressed support for a balanced, fair, and swift consideration of the bills filed in Congress for the renewal of ABS-CBN's franchise.