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LIVE: ABS-CBN New Franchise Rejected by the The House on Committee of Franchises

The House Committee on Legislative Franchises have voted to deny the franchise application of ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation on Friday.

The panel adopted the Technical Working Groups (TWG) Committee Resolution recommending the denial of the network’s franchise application with a total of 70 yes votes and 11 no votes, two inhibitions and one abstention.

Based on the report from TWG, the giant network violated its old franchise, (described by the panel as a privilege) because of the following reasons;

*Its former Chairman Eugenio Lopez III was both a Filipino and American citizen, the issuance of Philippine Depositary Receipts supposedly favoring foreigners.

*Inappropriate program content, meddling in politics, tax avoidance schemes;

*Less than exemplary labor practices among others.

According to TWG, ABS-CBN cannot invoke the freedom of the press in justifying its franchise application.

It is what it is — a denial of a privilege granted by the State because the applicant was seen as undeserving of the grant of a legislative franchise. By no means can this franchise application be related to press freedom. If it were so, then all applicants for legislative franchises covering mass media could simply claim such freedom and force the hand of this Committee each time,” as of the Committee Resolution read.

Such a scenario is totally inconsistent with the nature of legislative franchises as a mere privilege and never a matter of right.  Wherefore, in view of the foregoing, the technical working group respectfully recommends the DENIAL of the franchise application of ABS CBN Corporation,” it added.

Buhay party-list Representative Lito Atienza said that the House members will only vote based on instructions of the Speaker Alan Cayetano.

[The] vote will depend on the speaker — he holds the baton, he is the orchestra leader,” Atienza said in an interview at ANC.

According to Atienza, this is not the time to put thousands of people out of work amid COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaker Cayetano said there’s a time for everything, [and] this is not the time to get thousands jobless,” he said.

Recalling, ABS-CBN went off air on May 5 after the National Telecommunications Commission issued a cease and desist against the network for lack of franchise.

The bills seeking franchise renewal for ABS-CBN have been pending since 2014 but the House only decided to start its deliberations on these proposals on March 10 this year.

Under the Constitution, “no law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.”

Watch the live hearing here:

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