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House panel denies ABS-CBN’s bid for new franchise

A media crew cab enters the ABS-CBN Broadcasting Center, the office of the country’s top broadcast network, following a move by the Philippine government to scrap its franchise, in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines, February 10, 2020. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez

The House Committee on Legislative Franchises denied on Friday, July 10,  the franchise application of broadcast giant ABS-CBN Corporation.

Out of the 85 members of the committee, 70 lawmakers voted to deny granting the franchise; 11 voted for granting the franchise, two inhibited from voting, and one abstained.



The vote outcome was in line the recommendation of the Technical Working Group (TWG) committee resolution not to grant ABS-CBN a broadcast franchise license.

The TWG members include Deputy Speaker Pablo John Garcia, Representatives XJ Romualdo of Camiguin, and Stella Quimbo of Marikina. Among them, only Quimbo dissented.

“It is what it is — a denial of a privilege granted by the State because the applicant was seen as undeserving of the grant of a legislative franchise. By no means can this franchise application be related to press freedom. If it were so, then all applicants for legislative franchises covering mass media could simply claim such freedom and force the hand of this Committee each time,” the findings read.

“Such a scenario is totally inconsistent with the nature of legislative franchises as a mere privilege and never a matter of right.  Wherefore, in view of the foregoing, the technical working group respectfully recommends the DENIAL of the franchise application of ABS CBN Corporation,” it added.

The network has 24 hours to appeal the decision of the House Committee on Legislative Franchises.

The vote came after 12 hearings and more than two months after the network’s franchise ended last May 4.

On May 5, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) issued a cease and desist order that led to the shutdown of ABS-CBN television and radio stations nationwide, a day after its legislative franchise expired.

The NTC also ordered the network to halt the operations of its subsidiaries Sky Cable and Channel 43, where ABS-CBN airs digital TV Plus channels such as Cine MO!, Yey!, TeleRadyo, and the pay-per-view channel KBO.

READ: NTC orders ABS-CBN subsidiary Sky Cable, TV Plus channels to halt operations

During hearings over the past two months, lawmakers raised concerns against ABS-CBN including alleged tax violations, foreign ownership issues, and unfair labor practices.

ABS-CBN has submitted documents challenging these allegations.

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