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For Ate Vi, ABS-CBN clearly answered issues

STAR CIRCUIT - Ricky Calderon (The Freeman) - July 17, 2020 - 12:00am

If the House committee hearings on the ABS-CBN franchise were a TV show, it would not pass as a reality show, but rather a badly scripted teleserye with an ending that viewers who followed the 12 lengthy hearings did not agree.

Even Rep. Vilma Santos-Recto candidly admitted in a TV interview that she was surprised by the results of the voting that went in favor of those who opposed the grant of a franchise to ABS-CBN.

For Ate Vi, the Kapamilya network clearly answered all the issues raised against them in the hearing. Government agencies had told the committees that ABS-CBN did not commit any violations.

Ultimately, 70 congressmen “killed” the franchise of ABS-CBN. The lawmakers are supposed to be the voice of the people, but they must have misread the public’s pulse as the Social Weather Stations' latest poll showed that 76 percent of Filipino adults believe that Congress should grant a franchise to ABS-CBN.

The legislators' failure to read, consider, and respect the people’s decision raises a lot of questions among netizens, ordinary people, and those who followed the hearings that ran for a total of 78 hours.

The President has repeatedly and publicly criticized ABS-CBN for two years with the last warning in December 2019 that its franchise will not be renewed.  That was followed by a quo warranto case filed by the Solicitor General in January 2020, which was eventually dismissed by the Supreme Court.

Instead of acting on the bills pending in Congress at the start of the year, House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano chose to hear it in May, June, or even August allegedly because it was too contentious at that time.

He assured everyone that ABS-CBN would be able to broadcast while its franchise is being heard in Congress, and even got the assurance of the National Telecommunications Commission to issue a provisional authority to allow ABS-CBN to air.

Cayetano, whose father rose to fame as Companero in an ABS-CBN show in the late '90s, promised that if necessary, he would push the button to bring ABS-CBN back on air.  And when it was ordered to shut down by the NTC, he tried to persuade Congress to give ABS-CBN a franchise until October, but he failed.

He said he could not imagine a Philippines without ABS-CBN, but none of his assurances, plans, or pronouncements ever happened.

We have seen how ABS-CBN officials calmly answered all the issues despite the intimidating and disrespectful manner of questioning by some lawmakers.

People have observed how questions are repeated even if they had been answered, how ABS-CBN officials were cut in the middle of their explanations, and how those opposing the franchise dominated the hearing.

It wasn’t surprising to see the massive backlash against the decision since last Friday. Netizens expressed outrage on social media, while others trooped to the  ABS-CBN headquarters for a noise barrage.  Even folks in Makati protested with a noise motorcade.

Cayetano defended the decision saying the hearing on ABS-CBN was fair. But now he is dangling the oligarchy angle as the reason for the denial of the franchise perhaps as an attempt to appease the negative response.

But the people have seen how the hearings went and they disapprove the ending. Congress can learn how to listen better from ABS-CBN, whose shows are products of careful audience research that fulfills the needs of viewers. Their shows are successful because their stories and characters resonate with viewers.

What happens now to the industry without ABS-CBN amidst the COVID-19 pandemic?  No TV shows, no films, no concerts, no theater plays, no mall shows, and the list goes on.

The sad consequences of this are painful- if not unjust - decision are job losses for industry workers and lack of choices for TV viewers.

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