House drops ABS-CBN's provisional franchise bill

MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives on Tuesday decided to forego with the provisional franchise for broadcast giant ABS-CBN, opting instead to hear bills for a 25-year franchise.

Congress approves bill to give ABS-CBN provisional franchise until October

During the plenary session, House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano also cited that the bill brought divisiveness to the lower chamber.

“Because of all this divisiveness and after consulting with the members of the House, the political parties, and the regional groups… I, together with the House of Representatives leadership, decided to forego with the provisional franchise and immediately proceed with the hearings for the full 25-year renewal application of the ABS-CBN franchise,” Cayetano said.

On May 13, House of Representatives Committee of the Whole approved on second reading House Bill 6732 filed by Cayetano that would give green light for ABS-CBN to operate until October 31, 2020. But on Monday, the House reopened the period of debates and amendments to avoid possible legal questions.

Cayetano said the hearings to be conducted by the House Committee on Legislative Franchises, to be led by Palawan Rep. Franz “Chicoy” Alvarez, must be fair, impartial, comprehensive, and thorough.

“All voices must be heard and all issues for or against will be discussed,” he said.

“Let us direct our committee to immediately and continuously hold hearings until everyone is heard. And after everyone is heard, then we can decide,” he added.

SPEAKER ALAN CAYETANO SPEAKS ON THE ABS-CBN ISSUE. After consulting with the Members of The House of Representatives, The Political Parties and Regional Groups, tge Speaker and the House Leadership have decided to forego with the provisional franchise, and immediately proceed with the hearings for the full 25-year renewal application of ABSCBN.
Posted by Alan Peter Cayetano on Tuesday, May 19, 2020

The chamber is set to go on break on June 5 and will come back when session reopens in the fourth week of July, when the President delivers his State of the Nation Address.

ABS-CBN's broadcast operations were stopped on May 5 as the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) issued cease and desist order following the expiration of their franchise.

Before HB No. 6732, 11 bills already sought for the renewal of ABS-CBN franchise, but those remain pending before the House committee on legislative franchises. Cayetano previously assured the network that it would not shut down its operations even if its franchises lapses.

In the Senate hearing last February, the Kapamilya network already answered all alleged violations on franchise renewal, including questions on labor and tax.

Solicitor General Jose Calida was accused of pressuring NTC to order the shutdown of ABS-CBN.

The network's President and CEO Carlo Katigbak said Tuesday said that it may consider layoffs by August if it remains off the air.

— The Summit Express

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