MANILA - The Philippines' major association of broadcasters on Thursday threw its weight behind the new franchise bid of ABS-CBN Corp, the country's largest media network.
In a statement, the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (Association of Philippine Broadcasters), of which ABS-CBN is a member, said it "will continue to support and help work for the renewal of the franchises of ABS-CBN and other KBP member networks, knowing fully well that it is for the best interest of the public."
The KBP said it hopes Congress acts favorably on all pending broadcast franchise renewal applications, including that of ABS-CBN's.
It said ABS-CBN has been working with the association "in promoting broadcast responsibilities and initiating reforms in the broadcast industry."
ABS-CBN's franchise is expiring March 30, 2020 and yet Congress, which is set to adjourn in mid-March, has yet to tackle legislative measures seeking to grant the company a fresh 25-year broadcast franchise. The delay is seen by some sectors as the chamber's kowtowing to Duterte, who has vowed to block ABS-CBN's franchise renewal. In December, Duterte even urged the owners of ABS-CBN to just sell the company, saying he would "see to it that you're out."
In a separate move on Monday, the Duterte government's top counsel asked the Supreme Court to invalidate the current franchise of ABS-CBN, citing supposed violations. The company refuted the allegations.
Several press corps, journalism educators and journalist groups have previously expressed support for the media network.
Reporters covering the presidential office, defense, police, the Senate and business beats expressed their stand for press freedom amid what they see as efforts of the current government to shut down ABS-CBN.
The Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP) and the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines have also expressed support for ABS-CBN, which the former described as a "cornerstone of Philippine democracy and the free press."
A democracy watchdog said an ABS-CBN shutdown may lead to another "crony capitalist era," recounting the company's closure during the Martial Law period under the Marcos presidency.
ABS-CBN operates free TV Channel 2 and radio DZMM, while news.abs-cbn.com is the official news website of ABS-CBN Corp.