MANILA - Cagayan de Oro City 2nd District Rep. Rufus Rodriguez on Tuesday sought to grant ABS-CBN Corp a new 25-year franchise instead of renewing it after it lapsed in May.
During the House of Representatives hearing on the network’s franchise bid, the lawmaker asked other authors to convert their proposed measures into a new grant.
“The 11 bills that were filed, which were on renewal, could be by the motu propio by the committee could now be converted into all a new grant because we can’t anymore talk about renewal when there’s already an expiration of the franchise,” he said.
Rodriguez in May 6 filed House Bill 6694 seeking to grant the country's leading media and entertainment company a new franchise.
“The franchise of ABS-CBN expired May 4, 2020 midnight. In order to continue to provide uninterrupted and improved delivery of its services to the Filipino people, the franchise should be granted in the soonest possible time,” he wrote in his explanatory note.
But during the hearing jointly conducted by the committees on legislative franchises and good government and public accountability, Pampanga 2nd District Rep. Mikey Arroyo raised concerns it might affect the use of ABS-CBN’s broadcast frequencies.
“If it’s a renewal, do they still have a right to the frequencies they hold, they used to use? These are just small issues under this huge umbrella issue we have. So I believe we should have many more hearings to give an explanation to the experts of ABS-CBN’s side and the oppositors,” he said.
House Majority Leader Leyte 1st District Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez suggested filing a substitute bill before the committee to integrate the proposed measures.
“A good alternative right now is to consider having the committee file a substitute bill to incorporate those previous renewals and that can be adopted by the Committee on Legislative Franchises,” he said.
The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) issued a cease-and-desist order against ABS-CBN on May 5, a day after the network’s broadcast franchise expired. It was the second time it was forced off the air since the Marcos dictatorship.
ABS-CBN had repeatedly applied for the renewal of its broadcast franchise since 2014. Some 11 bills granting the network a fresh 25-year franchise have been sitting in the 18th Congress.
The NTC had promised before House members it would issue ABS-CBN provisional authority, which will allow the network to operate past the expiration of its franchise.
It later changed its tune and ordered ABS-CBN to halt broadcast operations, citing the lapse of its franchise.
While the network complied with NTC's order, it ran to the Supreme Court to seek an injunction, saying it was denied its constitutional right to equal protection of the law.
In the absence of its vital revenue stream, the company mulls layoffs as the company loses P30 million to P35 million daily.
The network employs 11,000 employees throughout its various subsidiaries.
news.abs-cbn.com is the official news website of ABS-CBN Corp.