ABS-CBN posts P659-M bond to free garnished bank deposits

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MANILA – ABS-CBN and Sky Cable posted a counter bond for P659 million last Monday to free up their bank deposits of equivalent amount that were attached on orders of a Mandaluyong Trial Court due to Sky Cable’s continuing refusal to pay carriage fees for airing the NBA channels owned by Solar.

“We have a bank certification showing we effectively garnished P659 million of their deposits on May 26. With the counter bond, Solar is now assured of getting paid when, not if, it wins in the courts,” said Enrique V. Dela Cruz, Jr. of Divina Law, Solar’s external counsel.

For ABS-CBN to claim it “considered” that it was allowed to air the BTV and NBA Premium channels owned by Solar for free was “a shallow legal pretext to unjustly enrich oneself. This is fraud plain and simple,” Dela Cruz said, in a statement sent to media outlets by Solar.

He added, “The fact that they continued to air the channels and earn advertising revenues despite non-payment of Solar’s billings since 2014 sums up the case. They made Solar believe they would pay that is why Solar kept feeding them its channels.”

If Sky Cable really believed it had the right to free-ride on Solar’s channels, “how come it continued to pay Solar until March 2015 for the airing of the same channels on Destiny and Unicable, which Sky Cable owns?” Dela Cruz asked.

Solar finally pulled the plug and discontinued its feed to Sky Cable, ABS-CBN’s cable station, last April.

Dela Cruz said, “It is obvious that Solar owns the channels, and Sky Cable and ABS-CBN have to pay for usage. That is why Solar can cut them off at any time.”

He explained that Solar has the exclusive rights to air NBA in the Philippines since 2010. In 2014, Solar allowed ABS-CBN to be part of the joint license agreement with NBA for limited airing rights, i.e., the right to air NBA games only on its free-TV channels.

“Sky Cable was never mentioned in the contract. Solar’s ownership of the BTV and NBA Premium channels remained. Again, under the contract, ABS-CBN was allowed to air NBA games only on Channel 2, its Sports + Action channel, and a pay TV that it has yet to develop.

‘Sky Cable in same class as Cignal, Dream’

“Sky Cable, just like Cignal and Dream now, can only carry Solar’s channels for a fee,” he said.

Dela Cruz said if ABS-CBN “considers” that “it can air what it does not own and make money at the same time by using a third party that has no right, then ABS-CBN is clearly a shrewd and cunning company that takes advantage of small media players.”