Sotto files bill pushing for renewed ABS-CBN franchise

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
Sotto files bill pushing for renewed ABS-CBN franchise
File photo shows employees and supporters lighting candles at the gate as the ABS-CBN Corporation office in Quezon City shines the network's colors.
The STAR / Miguel de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines — Months after a House panel voted to kill the franchise application of broadcast giant ABS-CBN Corp., the higher chamber of Congress has taken it upon itself to secure one for the embattled media network, with Senate President Vicente Sotto III filing a Senate bill to grant ABS-CBN a fresh legislative franchise to operate.

In filing Senate Bill No. 1967, Sotto wrote: "News, current events and programs can be shown and aired in real time that makes the viewers feel more updated and in the know - regardless of their location - and actions can be made quickly when important news is broadcasted."

To recall, 70 lawmakers voted to approve the recommendation by the House committee on legislative franchises to deny the company a fresh franchise for the next 25 years, despite no cases being proven against the company. Numerous government agencies also threw their support behind ABS-CBN, saying it complied with labor, tax, and immigration rules. 

READ: House panel denies ABS-CBN franchise

Since the onset of his administration, President Rodrigo Duterte has made it clear that he has an ax to grind with critical media. Both Duterte and then-House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano have said they have personal grievances with it, with the former once saying that if it were up to him, the company's franchise would not be renewed. 

When three typhoons struck the country in as many weeks towards the end of 2020, critics pointed to the widened information gap in far-flung areas caused by the shutdown of the company's regional bureaus. Vice President Leni Robredo said that local governments in the most affected areas were "blindsided" by the lack of information.  

"ABS-CBN's wide reach to Filipinos, alongside with the undeniable advantages of broadcast media relative to mass communication, definitely calls for the immediate renewal of the network's franchise," Sotto also said.

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As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: May 23, 2023 - 1:36pm

ABS-CBN Corp. stopped broadcasting on its TV and radio stations on May 5, 2020 after the National Telecommunications Commission issued a cease and desist order. The network's franchise had lapsed on May 4 without action by the House of Representatives.

May 23, 2023 - 1:36pm

ABS-CBN announces that it will cease operations of TeleRadyo, which has been in the red since 2020, by June 30.

August 11, 2022 - 9:37am

In a disclosure, ABS confirms signing of deal that sees the broadcast giant enter into a joint venture with MVP's TV5. — Ramon Royandoyan


January 27, 2021 - 3:35pm

Rep. Mike Defensor (Anakalusugan Party-list) attempts to put the ABS-CBN franchise up for a vote in the plenary, saying it should be taken up as it is in the House's unfinished business.

The House rejects his motion, but he appeals this. House leaders later on commit to begin tackling its unfinished business beginning Monday. —  Xave Gregorio

January 18, 2021 - 3:38pm

Rep. Vilma Santos-Recto (Batangas) has filed a bill seeking the renewal of the franchise granted to broadcast giant ABS-CBN.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III earlier filed a similar bill at the Senate, saying a majority of Filipinos get their news primarily from TV. 

Franchise bills emanate from the House of Representatives.

January 5, 2021 - 8:00pm

Malacañang is leaving it up to Congress to decide on the new bill seeking to renew the franchise of television network ABS-CBN, which was forced to lay off thousands of workers after its franchise expired last May. 

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque disagreed, saying the fate of the bill depends on lawmakers. 

"Well, again, I beg to differ; that is a sole constitutional prerogative of Congress which must originate from the House of Representatives," Roque says at a press briefing. —  Alexis Romero

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