MANILA - Lawmakers will discuss the ABS-CBN franchise as the coronavirus crisis upends legislative work, House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said Wednesday.
Cayetano said he is set to meet with some senators on Thursday to discuss how to go about the broadcast company's franchise without compromising the lawmakers' plan for an inquiry.
"I'm going to talk to some senators led by Sen. Bong Go din tomorrow kung anong magandang gawin (on what's best to do)," he said in an interview on radio DZMM.
"Kung whether its a joint resolution or ano man na hindi ma-compromise yung hearing pero may seguridad," he added.
(If we should pass a joint resolution or whatever that won't compromise the hearing but would provide security.)
The current franchise of ABS-CBN Corp, the country's largest media and entertainment company that operates free TV Channel 2 and radio DZMM, expires on May 4.
But in a March 16 memo, the National Telecommunications Commission said all live permits to operate and maintain broadcast and pay TV facilities that will expire during the enhanced community quarantine period will be automatically renewed.
The licenses will be valid for 60 days from the end of the quarantine period after which, the stations will be given 2 months to file for renewal of their permit or license without penalties or surcharges, the NTC said.
The NTC had earlier committed to allow ABS-CBN Corp. to operate after its franchise expires on May 4, as requested by lawmakers, who have yet to tackle several bills seeking for a fresh 25-year-franchise for the company.
If not for the pandemic, Cayetano said the franchise of the Lopez-led network was scheduled to be tackled on May 4 or 5.
Cayetano reiterated that lawmakers have asked the NTC to give ABS-CBN and its affiliate companies a provisional authority to operate.
"We don't want to close down ABS-CBN whether it's because of the franchise or it's because of business," the House Speaker said.
Cayetano also assured the public that there is "no move" to close down the broadcast giant.
"Gusto namin ipaabot sa lahat ng viewers ng ABS-CBN, DZMM, sa lahat po ng mga empleyado, sa mga stars, directors, wala pong move na isara ang ABS-CBN," he said.
(I want all the viewers of ABS-CBN, DZMM, its employees, stars, and directors to know that there is no move to close down ABS-CBN.)
The government placed Metro Manila on enhanced community quarantine beginning March 15 due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The coverage was expanded two days later to include the rest of Luzon, while other areas in the Visayas and Mindanao also imposed similar measures.
The ECQ for some areas, including Metro Manila, was recently extended through May 15.
news.abs-cbn.com is the official news website of ABS-CBN Corp.