ABS-CBN says renewal woes ‘speculative’
ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corp. yesterday dismissed as “premature” reports it may have a hard time securing a renewal of its congressional franchise to operate in the incoming Duterte administration.
“For the franchise renewal, we believe our government will uphold the ideals of democracy, including the rights to freedom of speech and expression,” said the broadcast giant in an e-mailed statement sent by Kane Errol Choa, head of ABS-CBN Integrated Corporate Communications.
“Claims the franchise will not be extended are purely speculative,” it added.
The Lopez-owned broadcast company reiterated its commitment to “be in public service by providing news and information that matter to the Filipino, as we have been doing for the past decades.”
ABS-CBN failed to get a new 25-year legislative franchise for its television and radio operations before the 16th Congress adjourned on June 6.
Its franchise, approved by the House of Representatives in March 1995, is set to expire at the end of March 2020.
A member of the House legislative franchise committee told the Inquirer ABS-CBN tried to get a franchise renewal in the last Congress to avoid the possibility of being blocked by a future hostile administration.
ABS-CBN, however, failed to win the support of President Aquino’s congressional allies who purportedly viewed the criticism by some of its commentators against Mr. Aquino as being too personal.
An attempt to gain the support of the incoming 17th Congress may face an even tougher road after President-elect Rodrigo Duterte and his supporters accused ABS-CBN of biased reporting during the campaign.
Duterte expressed displeasure after the network aired a TV ad financed by vice presidential candidate Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV that showed children questioning the propriety of him cursing Pope Francis and joking about the gang rape of an Australian missionary.
In 2014, two bills filed separately by Isabela Rep. Giorgidi Aggabao and Baguio Rep. Nicasio Aliping Jr. for the franchise renewal failed to reach the plenary for approval by the House.
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