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ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal on hold by the House of Representatives, franchise expires in 2020

  • The House of Representatives has frozen House Bill 4349, which seeks to renew the legislative franchise of broadcasting giant ABS-CBN Corp.
  • The franchise expires in nine months or on March 20, 2020
  • The broadcast firm is currently solidifying its position as a reliable content provider in the international arena

Lopez Holdings Corporation, formerly known as Benpres Holdings Corporation, serves as a parent company to conglomerates First Philippine Holdings Corporation (FPH) and ABS-CBN Corporation.

President Rodrigo Duterte has slammed ABS-CBN for allegedly refusing to run his paid advertisement during the 2016 election campaign and showing instead an ad critical of him paid by his staunch critic, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV.



On August 30, 2017, Duterte singled out Lopez Holding Corps from six businesses that allegedly owes the government money. The President said he is after the companies which owe the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP).

“I’ll go after itong mga elite,” Duterte said in a speech during the 23rd anniversary celebration of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda).

“And – I will not name the person – but iyong mga company nila noon, Benpres and about six other companies, may utang sila sa DBP. At ang utang nila umabot ng… to finance this… pera ng tao, gagamitin nila to finance their business pero kanila ’yung kita,” Duterte added.

As announced on June 12, Wednesday, the House of Representatives has frozen House Bill 4349, which seeks to renew the legislative franchise of broadcasting giant ABS-CBN Corp.

The said bill had been pending since November 2016.

The franchise expires in nine months or on March 20, 2020. With this situation, the radio-television network might have to shut down.

Since 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, the franchise renewal would have to be re-filed on July 22, 2019 at the 18th Congress.

A significant member of the legislative franchises committee said that as long as President Duterte has complaints against the network, there would be no action taken on any bill seeking to renew the ABS-CBN franchise.

“They have to thresh out and resolve their issues with the President. That’s the key to get the bill moving,” said the unnamed lawmaker.

However, Nueva Ecija Rep. Micaela Violago who filed the House Bill 4349 on Nov. 10, 2016, urged the House to approve the measure “in acknowledgment of ABS-CBN’s accomplishments…and to ensure the uninterrupted and improved delivery of its services to the Filipino people.”

On February 27, ABS-CBN Corporation agreed to pay P152.44 million as part of a compromise agreement approved by the Court of Tax Appeals in its tax deficiency case.

But the CTA did not state the total dues of ABS-CBN and said the amount the corporation agreed to pay represents its alleged tax deficiency for 2009.

Meanwhile, it is speculated that the Lopez-owned broadcasting firm is strengthening its online services in preparation for the possibility of a network closure.

Apart from this, the broadcast firm is currently solidifying itself to be a reliable content provider in the international arena by introducing its programs to other countries including China, Indonesia, and Turkey.

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Written by Amy Delos Reyes

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