Solar files estafa complaint vs ABS-CBN execs
Businessman Wilson Tieng’s Solar Entertainment Corp. filed a sweeping estafa complaint against the owners and top executives of ABS-CBN Corp. over the latter’s alleged failure to pay carriage fees and a share of the revenues from the airing Solar’s sports channels over several years.
This was revealed in a stock exchange filing on Friday by ABS-CBN, which said the criminal compliant had “no legal and factual basis, and is being used as a tool for harassment.”
“ABS-CBN will take appropriate legal action to hold Solar responsible for this unfounded action,” ABS-CBN said in its filing.
Solar’s complaint named nearly 40 individuals, including company chair Eugenio Lopez III and CEO Carlo Katigbak, the rest of its board of directors, top management and various division heads of the company’s sprawling organization.
The case, filed in the Office of the City Prosecutor of Makati City on July 11, follows the filing of a civil complaint between Solar and ABS-CBN, one of the country’s largest media companies.
Solar is claiming P659 million from ABS-CBN for the latter’s alleged failure to pay carriage fees for airing the BTV and NBA Premium TV channels over a three-year period.
ABS-CBN had disputed this. It said that following an agreement with Solar in 2014, it paid 60 percent of the license fees and it “considered that the same already covered the carriage fees” of ABS-CBN subsidiary, Sky Cable.
“Unfortunately, Solar disagreed. Despite the good faith attempts of ABS-CBN and Sky Cable to resolve the dispute amicably, Solar cut off the NBA feed to Sky Cable and filed this complaint,” ABS-CBN had said in a previous statement.
The feed was cut in April this year and Solar went to court.
Solar held the exclusive right to air NBA in the Philippines since 2010. In 2014, the company said it had “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.”
But Solar said Sky Cable had continued to “air and make money on the NBA shows using Solar’s own channels, BTV and NBA Premium, although its carriage contract ended in 2014.”
It added that it had continued to feed its two channels and to bill Sky Cable, believing there was an “implied renewal.” This refers to the industry practice of preventing a sudden blackout of TV channels, leading to an unexpected service disruption to subscribers.
Solar said SkyCable had stopped paying the carriage fees of Destiny and Unicable, which had their own contracts with Solar before they were acquired by Sky Cable, on March 1, 2015.
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