It was a dark day for press freedom after the House Committee on Legislative Franchises denied ABS-CBN’s application for a new franchise.
In a vote of 70 to deny with 1 abstention on Friday, July 10, ABS-CBN failed to win the votes of the legislative franchise committee members.
While ABS-CBN can still appeal the vote of the committee it might be tough to get a reversal.
Prior to the voting, ABS-CBN and its management have been subjected to 12 rigorous hearings tackling various allegations lodged by their oppositors.
Some of the topics discussed were the 50-year constitutional limit on media franchise, the issue on PDRs, the citizenship of former Chairman Gabby Lopez, the issue on tax evasion through their subsidiary Big Dipper, labor issues and the network’s alleged biased reporting.
While the oppositors tried to pin down ABS-CBN on all of their allegations, different government agencies meanwhile testified that ABS-CBN has been compliant with all the laws and its regulations.
Prior to voting, rumors, and reports have circulated that ABS-CBN will lose voting because of the powerful lobbying of Pulong Duterte and INC.
Although Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano denied the rumors and said that the House will vote according to their conscience, the result seemingly proved the reports to be correct.
ABS-CBN has been in shutdown since May 5, 2020 due to NTC’s issuance of cease and desist order.
Their franchise bills have been stalled in Congress since 2016 due to President Duterte’s consistent public opposition to ABS-CBN’s renewal.