Death of a Franchise

A year after ABS-CBN's franchise bid was killed

Exactly a year ago today, a panel of lawmakers decided the fate of ABS-CBN's franchise as well as thousands of the network's employees.

It has been a year since 70 members of the House of Representatives’ Committee on Legislative Franchises, a panel dominated by administration allies, voted to reject ABS-CBN’s bid for a new franchise that would have allowed it to resume its free tv and radio operations.

It was the fruition of what President Rodrigo Duterte had said many times in public speeches— that he would see to it that ABS-CBN, a company he believes offended him through the non-airing of some of his pre-paid political ads as well as the airing of a critical ad in the 2016 presidential campaign, ceases operations.

It’s a rhetoric he has continued even in the wake of the broadcast shutdown, saying as recently as February this year that he “will not allow” the network to operate after new bills seeking a new franchise were filed in the lower House.

For the network, the death of its franchise bid has been crippling, leading to the retrenchment of thousands in the middle of an already punishing pandemic, the loss of billions in revenues, and the folding of several lines of business.

As we mark this unfortunate milestone, we look back on the events that led to the July 10, 2020 "kill" vote, and march on ever hopeful that better days will come. -- Tarra Quismundo, ABS-CBN News


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