- On June 12, an article from The Philippine Star reported that the House of Representatives “has frozen” ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal bill
- The network issued a statement saying that it cannot “clarify” the reported news about its alleged franchise renewal freeze
- President Duterte is against its franchise renewal since he has complaints against the network
On Wednesday, June 12, The Philippine Star reported that the House of Representatives “has frozen” the ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal which is House Bill 4349, which would allow the network to continue to operate for the next 25 years.
The network issued a statement saying that it cannot “clarify” the reported news of The Philippine Star.
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“ABS-CBN is unable to clarify or comment on the article as it is neither the source of the said news article nor is it privy to any claims expressed therein. Thank you,” the company told the Philippine Stock Exchange for their “request for confirmation” about the issue.
The network’s current franchise is set to expire in 9 months or on March 20, 2020.
The Committee on Legislative Franchise did not submit a report regarding the House Bill before the third and last regular session of the 17th Congress which means franchise renewal should be re-filed on July 22, 2019, in the 18th Congress.
The Philippine Star report quoted an unnamed source, a member of the House’s legislative franchises committee, who said that “no action on the bill would be taken as long as President Duterte has complaints against the network.”
President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to block ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal, accusing officials of the network of committing estafa and swindling. In addition to this, the network allegedly refused to run his paid advertisement during the 2016 election campaign and showing instead an ad critical of him paid for by his staunch critic, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV.
Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel, who is a member of the House Committee on Legislative Franchises, said Congress has no intention of freezing any franchise application.
“What happened was that deliberations on the franchise were not completed until adjournment of the 17th Congress, so it has to be filed again in the 18th Congress,” he added.
In a press conference of reporters and news anchors of Dobol B on News TV held on June 13, GMA-7 news reporter Divine Reyes also gave her short but clear explanation about the pending franchise bill of the network.
“Kailangan pong i-refile kasi nagsara na po yung 17th Congress. So ire-refile siya sa 18th po,” said Reyes pertaining to the 18th Congress beginning July 22.
GMA-7 news anchor Mike Enriquez also added information about the matter. “Yung Congress, hindi inaksiyunan yung franchise. That means kailangan i-refile yun. Yun ang sistema” Enriquez shared.
The Commission on Human Rights was concerned upon knowing the reported move of the House of Representatives to “freeze” the franchise renewal of the said network.
In a statement on Friday June 14, Commission on Human Rights spokesperson Jacqueline De Guia said the services provided by the Lopez-owned broadcasting firm are “beyond the whims of politics.”
“If the network has committed any violation, it must be tackled through due process,” De Guia said.
WHAT IS HOUSE BILL NO. 4934?
It is also called “AN ACT RENEWING THE FRANCHISE GRANTED TO ABS-CBN CORPORATION (FORMERLY ABS-CBN BROADCASTING CORPORATION) UNDER REPUBLIC NO. 7966 OR ‘AN ACT GRANTING ABS-CBN BROADCASTING CORPORATION A FRANCHISE TO CONSTRUCT, INSTALL, ESTABLISH, OPERATE, AND MAINTAIN BROADCASTING STATIONS IN THE PHILIPPINES, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES” FOR TWENTY-FIVE (25) YEARS FROM THE EFFECTIVITY OF THIS ACT.'”
Nueva Ecija Rep. Micaela Violago filed the House Bill 4349 on Nov. 10, 2016.He also urged the House to approve of its immediate renewal.
“In acknowledgement of ABS-CBN’s accomplishments and the capital requirements of its operations, the immediate renewal of its original franchise which expires on March 30, 2020, is recommended to ensure the uninterrupted and improved delivery of its services to the Filipino people.
“This bill aims to renew ABS-CBN’s right to operate TV and radio broadcasting stations in the Philippines through microwave, satellite or whatever means, including the use of new technologies in television and radio systems.
“This bill has been filed in the 16th Congress by Rep. Georgidi B. Aggabao and it is hoped that it will see passage in the 17th Congress.”
ABS-CBN’s rival network GMA Network already renewed their franchise last year. House Bill 3946, or the bill to renew GMA Network Inc.’s franchise, was filed on October 4, 2016, and was enacted into law by President Duterte as Republic Act 10925 on April 21, 2017, allowing it to continue its operations for the next 25 years.
TV5’s franchise renewal, meanwhile, was approved by the Senate on February 4, 2019, and has been transmitted to the Office of the President on March 22, 2019, awaiting President Duterte’s signature.