MANILA — The city council of Daly, California urged Philippine lawmakers to grant ABS-CBN Corp. a fresh 25-year franchise that would allow it to give Filipinos abroad "connection to the homeland."
About 34 percent of the city's 100,000 people have Philippine roots, making Daly one of the largest Filipino settlements in the US, said the council in a letter dated May 27 to Palawan Rep. Franz Alvarez, chairperson of the House legislative franchises committee that started tackling the proposed license for ABS-CBN last week.
Daly has "witnessed the connection through ABS-CBN TFC (The Filipino Channel)," wrote the council.
Marginalized communities in the Philippines should have "access to information at these critical times in human history and even more so during a health pandemic," the council told Alvarez.
ABS-CBN — which regulators forced off air last May 5, a day after its franchise expired — reaches millions of Filipinos through its television, radio and internet platforms.
"Without ABS-CBN present in the Philippines, there will be a void for so many, and a feeling of losing a piece of themselves as it has been such an integral part of millions of Filipinos' daily life," said the Daly council.
It said it hoped that when lawmakers resume their hearing on Monday, they would "understand that Filipinos are watching globally and that we are in full solidarity for a 25-year franchise agreement for ABS-CBN."
Under oath, the National Telecommunications Commission in March told lawmakers that it would let ABS-CBN operate provisionally beyond the expiration of its franchise while bills for its renewal languished in Congress.
But ABS-CBN, home to 11,000 workers, was forced off air by the agency after Solicitor General Jose Calida warned officials that issuing provisional authority for the network to continue airing would lead to graft charges.
The 65-year-old broadcaster has repeatedly denied in various fora said it did not violate the law.
news.abs-cbn.com is the official news website of ABS-CBN Corp.