âABS-CBN successfully defends franchise bidâ
The lawmakers’ belief contradicted an earlier report that said the TV network is facing an uphill battle as the number of House members who want to reject the franchise request outnumber those who favor the reopening of ABS-CBN.
The STAR/Miguel de Guzman, file
‘ABS-CBN successfully defends franchise bid’
Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) - July 9, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Television giant ABS-CBN has successfully justified its bid for franchise renewal before the House of Representatives, proponents of the franchise renewal bill said yesterday.

They are optimistic that the broadcast empire could secure a fresh franchise from Congress.

Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman and Agusan del Norte Rep. Lawrence Fortun expressed belief that ABS-CBN won in the hearings and sufficiently rebutted allegations should their fellow lawmakers base their votes on merit.

The House joint committee on legislative franchises and good government, and public accountability should approve the franchise renewal after nearly two months of hearings, they said.

The lawmakers’ belief contradicted an earlier report that said the TV network is facing an uphill battle as the number of House members who want to reject the franchise request outnumber those who favor the reopening of ABS-CBN.

The report said only 25 lawmakers would likely vote in favor of ABS-CBN.

As this developed, Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano slammed what he branded as propaganda to blackmail Congress into deciding in favor of ABS-CBN.

Cayetano said some people he did not name are spreading rumors to influence the decision of the House committee.

He appealed to both supporters and critics of ABS-CBN “to continue to advocate, but never to engage in black propaganda and fake news.”

Conscience vote

“Speaker Cayetano said he would allow a conscience vote on the ABS-CBN franchise. I hope he will deliver on that. If it’s a conscience vote, ABS-CBN wins. If it’s not, the opposite happens,” Atienza said.

Lagman agreed with Atienza and forecast an 8-0 victory for the network as he cited eight issues tackled during the hearings.

These issues included the citizenship of ABS-CBN chairman emeritus Eugenio Lopez III, issuance of Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDRs) of ABS-CBN Holdings to foreign nationals, reacquisition of the Lopez family after the EDSA Revolution in 1986, 50-year constitutional limit on franchises, digital migration, alleged labor malpractices, various tax issues and biased reporting.

Fortun shared Lagman’s opinion and reiterated Cayetano’s call for committee members to vote according to their conscience.

“If committee members vote according to conscience, ABS-CBN franchise should be renewed,” Fortun said.

Atienza and Fortun scored their colleagues for raising personal grudges against the network during last Monday’s hearing.

Fortun warned of repercussions on the demands of several lawmakers on the manner of news reporting by the network.

He said there’s no evidence presented during the hearing showing ABS-CBN engaged in biased reporting and election meddling as alleged by its critics.

The panel is to sum up the hearings today and set the schedule of voting on whether to approve the franchise bills or not.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Sen. Nancy Binay said public officials have no business dictating the editorial content of news organizations.

They said public officials should not be sensitive to criticisms and unfavorable reports of the media.

The senators said they themselves and their families had suffered from the negative and  erroneous news reports, but they neither meddled nor called for the shutdown of erring media organizations. Paolo Romero, Cecille Suerte Felipe, Delon Porcalla

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