ABS-CBN Says “No Comment” on Alleged Franchise Renewal Freeze

The network’s franchise is set to expire in March next year.
ILLUSTRATOR Roland Mae Tanlgao

ABS-CBN has said it is unable to comment on a news item that came out on Wednesday, June 12, about Congress supposedly freezing its legislative franchise. 

In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange on Thursday, the broadcasting giant said “it is neither the source of the said news article nor is it privy to any claims expressed therein.”

The company was reacting to a report that came out in The Philippine Star that said that the House of Representatives has allegedly frozen House Bill 4349, or the bill that would renew the franchise of ABS-CBN to maintain operating as a broadcast station for the next 25 years.

The network’s current franchise is set to expire on March 20, 2020.

The Philippine Star report quoted an unnamed source—a member of the House’s legislative franchises committee—who said that “no action on the bill would be taken as long as President Duterte has complaints against the network.”

The issue stems from President Duterte castigating ABS-CBN for allegedly refusing to air his campaign ads during the 2016 presidential elections.

The Philippine Star quoted the unnamed legislator as saying that the network needs to “thresh out and resolve their issues with the President,” to get the bill moving.

Nueva Ecija Rep. Micaela Violago filed the bill on November 10, 2016, but the House of Representatives website lists the bill status as pending with the committee on legislative franchises.

Curiously, ABS-CBN’s main broadcast rivals do not share the network's woes. House Bill 3946, or the bill to renew GMA Network Inc.’s franchise, was filed October 4, 2016 and was enacted into law by President Duterte as Republic Act 10925 on April 21, 2017, allowing it to continue its operations for the next 25 years. TV5's franchise renewal, meanwhile, was approved by the Senate on February 4, 2019 and has been transmitted to the Office of the President on March 22, 2019 awaiting President Duterte's signature.

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Paul John Caña
Associate Editor, Esquire Philippines
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