Sotto moves for ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal

MANILA, Dec 5 (Mabuhay) — Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Monday moved for the franchise renewal of broadcast media giant ABS-CBN Corporation, six months after the House committee on legislative franchises voted to deny its application.

Senate Bill No. 1967, authored by Sotto, seeks to renew the franchise granted to ABS-CBN to construct, install, operate, and maintain television and radio broadcasting stations in the Philippines for another 25 years.

According to the Constitution, all private bills, such as the franchise for ABS-CBN, shall originate exclusively in the House of Representatives.

Sotto said he is still in the process of getting a consensus from both houses of Congress regarding this bill.

While a House panel during the speakership of Taguig-Pateros Representative Alan Peter Cayetano thumbed down the application of ABS-CBN for franchise renewal last year, Sotto said “nothing stops a congressman from filing a new franchise bill again” under the 18th Congress.

Cayetano was replaced by Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco, another ally of President Rodrigo Duterte, last October.

“New [House] Speaker, new officers. [There] could be a better chance,” Sotto said in a message.

The network’s franchise lapsed on May 4, 2020. It went off air the following day after the National Telecommunications Commission issued a cease and desist order.

The NTC’s action was contrary to NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba’s statement before the House of Representatives in March that they will issue a provisional authority to ABS-CBN to allow its continued broadcast operations “based on equity.”

The House only decided to start its deliberations on bills seeking ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal last March 10 even though these proposals had been pending in Congress since 2014. (MNS)

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