Senate probe on ABS-CBN franchise set on February 24

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 19) – The Senate probe on ABS-CBN's franchise renewal has finally been set on February 24, three days ahead of the previously proposed deliberation on the matter.

Sen. Grace Poe's office announced Wednesday that the Senate Committee on Public Services, which she chairs, has already scheduled the public hearing at 10am at the Senate Session Hall.

On Wednesday, the senator told the media that she wants an earlier date for the hearing even if the House of Representatives is still sitting on the issue. The Senate was supposed to begin the deliberation on February 27.

The panel will also tackle the status of six other broadcast franchises: Golden Broadcast Professional Inc., Gold Label Broadcasting System Inc., Broadcast Enterprises and Affiliated Media Inc., First United Broadcasting Corp., Crusaders Broadcasting System Inc., and Bicol Broadcasting System Inc.

Solicitor General Jose Calida recently asked the Supreme Court to issue a gag order to stop the ABS-CBN and any of its representatives from discussing the quo warranto case which he earlier filed against the network.

On February 10, Calida asked the high court to cancel ABS-CBN's legislative franchise weeks before it lapses, claiming that the network committed "highly abusive practices" in violation of terms set by Congress when it approved ABS-CBN's franchise in 1995. Among them, Calida said, are the setting up of the KBO channel without a permit from the National Telecommunications Commission, and when it supposedly allowed foreign investors to control the company.

ABS-CBN's franchise is set to expire on March 30.