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Legislators file more bills to renew ABS-CBN’s franchise

  • Two more bills were filed in Congress to renew the franchise of ABS-CBN which will expire next year
  • Representative Micaela Violago first refiled House Bill (HB) No. 676 for the renewal of the network’s franchise
  • President Duterte already granted the franchise renewal of several TV networks

ABS-CBN’s franchise which was approved through Republic Act No. 7966 is set to expire on March 30, 2020.

Currently for a media network to renew its franchise, both houses of Congress should pass a law that will extend its license to operate for another 25 years. Then it will have to be signed by the President or it can automatically lapse into law if the President fails to sign and does not veto it.

Representative Micaela Violago (Nueva Ecija, 2nd District) refiled House Bill (HB) No. 676 to after it failed to get approval at the committee level before the 17th congress was adjourned.

Aside from this, two more legislators recently added their proposals to renew the franchise of the Kapamilya network before its expiration.

Pangasinan Representative and House Deputy Speaker Rose Marie “Baby” Arenas and Parañaque Rep. Myra Joy Tambunting were the latest members of the House who filed ABS-CBN’s application for franchise renewal under House Bill 3521 and House Bill 3713 respectively.

The house bill filed by Deputy Speaker Arenas called ABS-CBN “a pillar in the broadcast industry of the Philippines, with the widest reach to more than 10 million Filipinos overseas.”

The document also included that renewing the franchise of ABS-CBN for the next 25 years would save the jobs and source of livelihood of more than 10,000 Filipino workers and their families.

It also said: “one cannot talk of the beginnings and development of broadcast media in the Philippines without talking about the history and evolution of the ABS-CBN Corporation. The future of ABS-CBN is tied together with the future of Philippine broadcast media, just as their pasts are intrinsically bound together.”

Re-elected Senator Bong Revilla had expressed his support for the Kapamilya network’s franchise renewal in an interview.

“Well, una magsisimula naman yan sa lower house. Pagkatapos yan sa lower house, sasampa yan sa upper house, sa Senate. So, sa akin, wala naman akong nakikitang problema. I just hope na maging maayos ang lahat ng bagay.”

Earlier, almost one thousand celebrities and employees of ABS-CBN united and signed a petition hoping that the House of Representatives will renew the franchise of the television giant.

President Rodrigo Duterte previously threatened to block the franchise renewal of ABS-CBN for allegedly not airing a 2016 ad that he paid for and instead showed a TV spot that was critical of him and was paid by his critic, former Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo negated the idea that the network’s franchise renewal is up to the president.

“But ABS-CBN ang expiration next year pa eh, tsaka Congress naman. Nasa Kongreso ang bola niyan, hindi naman kay Presidente.”

Commission on Human Rights spokesperson Jacqueline De Guia also said the services provided by the Lopez-owned broadcasting firm are “beyond the whims of politics.”

ABS-CBN’s rival, GMA Network was granted a 25-year franchise renewal after Duterte signed Republic Act No. 10925 on April 21, 2017.

Meanwhile, bills renewing TV5 and CBCP franchises have already lapsed into law.

Last August 8, Duterte already the signed the laws granting franchise renewal to three broadcasting companies: Solid North Broadcasting System (Republic Act 11366), Mareco Broadcasting Network, Inc. (Republic Act 11367), and Radio Audience Developers Integrated Organization, Inc. (Republic Act 11368).

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