The media company is now racing against time as its franchise will expire in March this year. A bill to extend its license for another 25 years is pending in Congress.
The STAR, File
Media groups say if ABS-CBN franchise expires its workers, public to suffer most
Ratziel San Juan (Philstar.com) - February 11, 2020 - 1:47pm

MANILA, Philippines — Media organizations on Tuesday said that it is not ABS-CBN who stands to incur the most losses from recent attacks, but thousands of its workers and even the general public who benefit from the network's existence.

“Reporters, photographers, cameramen, artists, technical crew and media professionals stand to lose their jobs if ABS-CBN shuts down,” the Photojournalists’ Center of the Philippines said in a statement issued Tuesday.

“Everybody connected to their principals at ABS-CBN as assistants, contributors, suppliers, and others, numbering probably tenfold of the 11,000 employees of the media outfit, will also be affected.”

RELATED: Petition vs ABS-CBN endangers thousands of workers, labor group says

Solicitor General Jose Calida on Monday filed a quo warranto petition against the broadcast network, asking the Supreme Court to "forfeit the franchise" of ABS-CBN and its subsidiary, ABS-CBN Convergence which operates TVPlus and the now-defunct ABS-CBN mobile. 

RELATED: Calida cites 'transcendental importance' in case vs ABS-CBN: What is it?

This comes with just a little over a month left to renew the network’s legislative franchise.

After March 30, the said franchise will expire and ABS-CBN’s broadcast services will cease operation.

RELATED: What are ABS-CBN’s chances of renewing its franchise?

Aside from the media network’s employees whose livelihoods are threatened, the PCP said the public would also lose a major source of information and content.

RELATED: Potential ABS-CBN shutdown a loss for Filipino audiences and culture too, scholars note

“But more than the direct victims of the government's relentless pursuit to silence what it perceives as media critical of its work and policies, it is the public, which has been the television network's consumer in the 25 years of its current franchise, who stand to lose the most,” the photojournalists group said.

“ABS-CBN is, after all, nothing without its audience. Its millions of subscribers on TV Plus alone and the millions more on free-to-air TV constitute the largest chunk of the viewing public. To deprive them of the network’s services is to deprive them of the freedom of access to information.”

Meanwhile, the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility called for clarity on legal questions raised by quo warranto case.

“Does quo warranto apply to invalidating the franchise granted to ABS-CBN? Is it appropriate for the Solicitor General to even raise the renewal of a media enterprise to the Supreme Court? Should a franchise given to a corporation involved in the exercise of press freedom be handled in the same way as a franchise to trade in public utilities?” reads the media watchdog’s statement posted Tuesday.

“CMFR calls on the legal community to clarify whether there is a legal basis for such use of quo warranto. Alas, lawyers may feel restrained, as those who practice law may be afraid to risk offending the powers that be, in and out of the Court.”

CMFR also said that the quo warranto petition is self-serving, based on the history of President Rodrigo Duterte's administration.

“After the questionable ouster of Ma. Lourdes Sereno as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Calida appears to believe he has found a magic formula. Barely two years after that sorry scandal, the quo warranto rears its ugly head a second time during this administration.”

RELATED: How the quo warranto petition vs Sereno could affect the judiciary

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