House shuts door on ABS-CBN franchise

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    THE House of Representatives has no intention of tackling new proposals to grant media giant ABS-CBN Corp. a franchise and would rather pass the buck to the next Congress.

    Rep. Franz Alvarez (Palawan), chair of the House committee on legislative franchises, made the announcement yesterday in response to a query from Anakalusugan party-list Rep. Michael Defensor about the status of House Bill No. 6732 that would have given the media network a provisional franchise extension for six months.

    Defensor was one of the panel members who led the opposition last year against a franchise extension, accusing ABS-CBN of numerous violations including allowing foreign interests, illegal use of investment instruments, and labor issues.

    The 18th Congress will end on June 30, 2022.

    Alvarez pointed out that while HB 6732 is listed under “Unfinished Business,” it no longer requires any action because the provisional franchise would have only lasted until Oct. 31, 2020.

    “Obviously, this is already moot and academic. Based on my understanding from the House leadership, the ABS-CBN franchise issue is best left to the next Congress,” he said.

    Alvarez noted that the ABS-CBN franchise issue was “put to rest” after the franchise committee voted 70-11 against the network’s franchise application on July 10, 2020.

    “Under the rules, anyone of the 70 House members who voted against the franchise application could file a motion for reconsideration on behalf of ABS-CBN to challenge the decision of the committee. Unfortunately, there was none, thus the committee decision has become final,” he said.

    Early this month, deputy speaker and Batangas Rep. Vilma Santos-Recto filed a bill proposing to give ABS-CBN a new franchise while in the Senate, a similar measure was filed by Senate President Vicente Sotto III.