Lawmaker files new House bill seeking fresh ABS-CBN franchise

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 19 2021 09:27 PM

Lawmaker files new House bill seeking fresh ABS-CBN franchise 1

MANILA — Another bill seeking to revive the broadcast franchise of ABS-CBN has been filed before the House of Representatives — this time by Camarines Sur 3rd District Rep. Gabriel Bordado.

House Bill 8333, filed on Jan. 12, was officially referred to the Committee on Legislative Franchises during the plenary session on Tuesday.

In his explanatory note, Bordado pointed out the impact of the Kapamilya network being off the air following its broadcast franchise expiry on May 5 last year. 

“We also stopped having possible avenues for quick and accessible information dissemination during a time when the landscape and the conduct of education are being forced to change due to the limitations brought about by the pandemic,” he said.

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Information was also hard to come by during the rampage of several typhoons that hit the capital region and several areas in Luzon last year, according to the lawmaker.

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“As we had seen during the back to back onslaught of typhoons in 2020, the shutdown did prove to be a debilitating blow in providing and relaying updates, warnings and calls for assistance to families devastated by these extreme events,” he pointed out. 

The referral came after Deputy Speaker Vilma Santos’ House Bill 8298 which likewise seeks to grant ABS-CBN another 25-year franchise, which was referred to the same panel on Monday.

The panel has initial jurisdiction over all legislative franchise applications. 

On July 10, 2020, the same panel denied previous franchise applications by ABS-CBN, including HB 4305 which Santos also authored, and House Bills 5608, 5753 and 6732 which were all co-authored by Bordado. 

On Jan. 4, 2021, Sen. Vicente Sotto III filed a similar proposal, Senate Bill No. 196, in the Senate.

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Sotto had said that the change in the House leadership may give ABS-CBN a "better chance" to get a new broadcast franchise.

Bordado also co-authored House Resolution 639 principally authored by Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman advocating for the panel to bring the franchise bills to the plenary.

He represents the former congressional seat of Vice President Leni Robredo, who also backs the grant of another congressional franchise to ABS-CBN.

The non-renewal of its franchise forced ABS-CBN to lay off thousands of workers at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, and left households in rural areas without a stable source of information amid several calamities that hit the country.