- Rodriguez wants to grant ABS-CBN a new 25-year franchise instead of renewal
- There are 11 bills currently filed seeking to grant a 25-year franchise that have been sitting in the 18th Congress.
On Tuesday, Cagayan de Oro 2nd District Rep. Rufus Rodriguez wanted to grant ABS-CBN a new 25-year franchise instead of renewing it after it expired in May.
Lawmakers asked the authors to convert their proposed measures into a new franchise during the House of Representatives hearing on the ABS-CBN franchise renewal.
He emphasized that the network had filed 11 bills for renewal of the franchise that could be granted, but since the network had expired, they can’t anymore about renewal.
“The 11 bills that were filed, which were on renewal, could be by the motu propio by the committee could now be converted into all a new grant because we can’t any more talk about renewal when there’s already an expiration of the franchise,” he said.
On May 6, Rodriguez filed House Bill 6694 seeking to grant the giant network a new franchise. He also wrote in his explanatory note that: “The franchise of ABS-CBN expired May 4, 2020 midnight. In order to continue to provide uninterrupted and improved delivery of its services to the Filipino people, the franchise should be granted in the soonest possible time.”
But during the hearing jointly conducted by the committees on legislative franchises and good government and public accountability, Pampanga 2nd District Rep. Mikey Arroyo raised his concerns that granting new franchise might affect the use of ABS-CBN’s broadcast frequencies as he believed that they should have more hearings to give an explanation to both sides: ABS-CBN and the opposition.
“If it’s a renewal, do they still have a right to the frequencies they hold, they used to use? These are just small issues under this huge umbrella issue we have. So I believe we should have many more hearings to give an explanation to the experts of ABS-CBN’s side and the oppositors,” he said.
Another suggestion by House Majority Leader Leyte 1st District Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez said that filing a substitute bill before the committee to integrate the proposed measures.
“A good alternative right now is to consider having the committee file a substitute bill to incorporate those previous renewals and that can be adopted by the Committee on Legislative Franchises,” he said.
On May 5, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) issued a ceased and desist order against ABS-CBN which shut down on the same day. The only other time the network was forced to shut down was during martial law of the Marcos dictatorship.
In 2014, ABS-CBN had repeatedly applied for the renewal of its broadcast franchise. There are 11 bills filed seeking to grant a 25-year franchise renewal that have been sitting in the 18th Congress.
The network has been off the for almost a month as the company loses P30 million to 35 million daily.