Press Release
March 15, 2021

Broadcast and telco franchise bills

ON TELCO FRANCHISE BILLS: As chairperson of the Senate committee on public services, it is my privilege to sponsor three telecommunications companies. We are sponsoring these three telcos to bridge the digital divide by making telecommunications services available, accessible and affordable to more Filipinos. With the introduction of a new player and the renewal of two existing franchises, we hope to encourage competition, drive companies to provide better service, and meet end-user expectations. Here are the telcos up for deliberations today.

House Bill No. 7615, under Committee Report No. 207, seeks to grant the franchise of Instant Data Inc. Instant Data aims to deliver communications technology through internet infrastructure, and future proof IP voice/video.

House Bill No. 8551, under Committee Report No. 208, seeks to renew the franchise of Transpacific Broadband Group International Inc. (TBGI). TBGI is a PSE-licensed telecommunications operator with PEZA in the Clark Special Economic Zone. They also have monitoring and operations center in Mandaluyong, and a training facility in Dasmariñas, Cavite. More importantly, TGBI's network development plan focuses on marginalized schools and communities.

And lastly, we have House Bill No. 7332, under Committee Report No. 206, which seeks to renew the franchise of Dito Telecommunity Corp. Dito, formerly Mislatel, was selected as the new major player in the Philippine telecommunications market. It was given a five-year network rollout to realize its commitment to provide at least 55 mbps of mobile data connectivity to at least 84 percent of the country's population.

Last March 8, Dito was able to launch commercially in various areas in Visayas and Mindanao, with good connection reports although it could improve its accessibility in order to serve the market it targets. We are hopeful that the entrance of Dito in the telecommunications market would spur the competition for a more affordable and better internet and mobile services available to more Filipinos.

Nevertheless, we also recognize that the grant of franchise is just the tip of the iceberg and we need to pursue several reforms like the long overdue amendment to Republic Act No. 7925 or the Public Telecommunications Policy Act, and the passage of the Better Internet Act, and Open Access in Data Transmission Act.

Above all these, Mr. President, we made sure to standardize the contents of all franchises regardless of popularity and extent of coverage. In view of our mandate and responsibility to issue franchises, we scrutinized and carefully studied each of them.

In fact, in our effort to continuously improve it, we introduced a new amendment on the dispersal of ownership to all franchises, except the non-stock and non-profit corporations. We changed the offering requirements from 30 percent of common stocks to 30 percent of outstanding capital stocks following the legal precedent in Roy vs. Herbosa where the Court adopted that Filipino ownership must be applied to both total number of outstanding shares of stock entitled to vote; and total number of outstanding shares of stock, whether or not entitled to vote.

We have likewise improved the language of the provision mandating the franchise applicants to create employment opportunities by stressing that the number of job order, contractual and casual employees, as well as independent contractor, should not exceed 40 percent. Moreover, the applicants shall include as part of their annual report, their efforts to regularize employees and the certification from the Department of Labor that they have complied with the employment requirements of their franchise.

With regard to their performance for the past years, we sought the assistance of government agencies like the Securities and Exchange Commission, National Telecommunications Commission and Bureau of Internal Revenue to ensure that the applicants have complied with the duties and deliverables attached as conditions for the enjoyment of franchises. As I previously said, "serbisyo muna bago prangkisa."

Similarly, we accord premium to the referral of the House of Representatives to this Chamber.

Mr. President, if passed into law, we will not only be making way for a better and more expansive information dissemination and telecommunications service in the Philippines, but we will also be providing our countrymen with much needed jobs, especially as we recuperate from this pandemic.

I thank my colleagues for your preliminary support for these measures and for signing the committee reports in a very timely manner. I hope that we can deliberate these with the public need in mind.


As chairperson of the Senate committee on public services, it is again my privilege to sponsor 13 broadcast franchise applications—11 are up for renewal and two are new applicants. This list includes an LGU and an SUC. For brevity, I will enumerate the House bills and provide a brief description of each.

House Bill No. 6255, under Committee Report No. 209, seeks to renew the franchise of Rolin Broadcasting Enterprises Inc., which is located in Palawan and has been serving the far-flung areas of Puerto Princesa, Roxas and Narra.

House Bill No. 6918, under Committee Report No. 210, seeks to renew the franchise of Blockbuster Broadcasting System Inc. or more popularly known as Wave 89.1. Blockbuster is a recipient of various franchise expo awards and is serving Metro Manila and its neighboring provinces.

House Bill No. 7487, under Committee Report No. 211, seeks to renew the franchise of Tagbilaran Broadcasting System Inc. Tagbilaran Broadcasting operates in Kalibo and Tacloban and has been broadcasting in the Visayas region.

House Bill No. 7488, under Committee Report No. 212, seeks to grant the franchise of Davao City Radio Broadcasting Station. In light of the priority agenda of the Davao City government on disaster risk reduction, they plan to setup a community radio for emergency response and preparedness. The broadcast station will also be used to disseminate advocacy campaigns, as well as the city's programs and projects.

House Bill No. 7496, under Committee Report No. 213, seeks to renew the franchise of Servotron Industries Inc. Their previous franchise covers NCR only but in the effort to cover more unserved and underserved areas, they applied for a nationwide expansion of their broadcast services.

House Bill No. 7616, taking into consideration Senate Bill No. 1462, under Committee Report No. 214, seeks to renew the franchise of the University of the Philippines System. DZUP 1602 is the official radio station of the University of the Philippines which airs in Mega Manila, Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog. Its radio programs are the collaborative effort of the different colleges and units of the University.

House Bill No. 7618, under Committee Report No. 215, seeks to renew the franchise of Christian Music Power Inc., which operates three FM stations across Visayas and Mindanao. They promote Christian pop, rock and worship music and instills positive values, life skills, and strong family relationships using Bible teachings.

House Bill No. 8552, under Committee Report No. 216, seeks to renew the franchise of Allied Broadcasting Center Inc. Incorporated in 1976, Allied Broadcasting is one of the pioneers of provincial radio broadcasting in the country. It focuses on unserved and underserved areas like Sorsogon, Ormoc, Tacloban, Cotabato, and Negros Occidental.

House Bill No. 8553, under Committee Report No. 217, seeks to renew the franchise of Palawan Broadcasting Corp. At present, Palawan Broadcasting Corp. has radio stations in Taytay and Coron, Palawan, and in Catbalogan, Samar. In its early days, the company operates specifically for urgent personal messages known as 'panawagan.' After being shut down during martial law, it continued its broadcast services in 1986 now incorporating news, education and entertainment formats.

House Bill No. 8554, under Committee Report No. 218, seeks to renew the franchise of St. Jude Thaddeus Institute of Technology Inc., a private institution in Surigao City offering broadcast courses, and the only school in the CARAGA region offering AB Broadcasting. The school operates its own radio and television station, and its broadcast services expand to General Santos City, Davao de Oro and Agusan del Sur.

House Bill No. 8555, under Committee Report No. 219, seeks to renew the franchise of Good News Sorsogon Foundation Inc., a radio broadcasting station based in Sorsogon City with inspirational and motivational format. The company also owns a bookstore and a printing press.

House Bill No. 8556, under Committee Report No. 220, seeks to renew the franchise of Baycomms Broadcasting Corp. Their stations are popularly known under the branding of 'Brigada News FM' with services expanding in Visayas and Mindanao.

And lastly House Bill No. 8860, taking into consideration Senate Bill No. 2059 under Committee Report No. 221, seeks to grant the franchise of Highland Broadcasting Network Corp. which will provide broadcast services to our kababayans in Northern Mindanao, in unserved and underserved areas specifically the agricultural towns

Mr. President, TV and radio have been part of our culture as Filipinos. It is where we source critical information on a range of issues and has been a medium for entertainment. But more importantly, it provides a crucial line of communication between and among communities. This is the reason why we welcome the grant or renewal of these franchises that will serve or has been serving the unserved and underserved areas of our country.

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