Lower House approves on 2nd reading bill giving “provisional franchise” for ABS-CBN to operate until Oct 2020

(File photo) House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano (Cropped photo/courtesy House of Representatives)


(Eagle News) – The House of Representatives approved on second reading a bill allowing ABS-CBN to operate under a provisional franchise that will be valid until October 31, 2020.

House Bill 6732, which was sponsored by House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, provides for a provisional franchise for ABS-CBN until Oct. 31, 2020 within which time both houses of Congress hopes to finish hearings on the various bills filed on the renewal of its legislative franchise which expired on May 4, 2020.

“Through this measure that we have filed today, and I am now sponsoring, we will provide ABS-CBN with a provisional franchise valid for October 31, 2020 within which time both the House of Representatives and the Senate will hear the issues being raised for and against the renewal, and assess, with complete impartiality and fairness, whether or not the network shall be granted a franchise for another 25 years,” Cayetano said.

The House Speaker, in his speech, also hit the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) for allegedly not being upfront about the issue.

-Cayetano slams NTC –

He said that the NTC should have stated from the start that it cannot grant a provisional franchise to ABS-CBN.

“If only the NTC had said from the outset that they could not give the network a provisional authority to operate beyond the term of the franchise, then we would have not relied on their word,” he said.

“We cannot, in good conscience, sweep the accusations under the rug and proceed as if nothing happened,” he said.

Cayetano also took note of statements blaming the House of Representatives for not immediately acting on the various bills filed on the ABS-CBN franchise renewal, as he defended the House of Representatives.

He and Deputy Speaker Dan Fernandez sponsored the measure on the floor, and extolled ABS CBN.

They also both denounced the NTC.

He promised a fair and impartial hearing on the issue of ABS CBN franchise renewal.

File photo of ABS CBN facade after it stopped broadcast operations on May 6, 2020. Photo taken on May 7, 2020. (Photo courtesy Earlo Bringas/Eagle News Service)

“There will be no rush to judgement. Both the praise for and the charges against the network will be heard and will be put on public record,” he said.

“Whatever the outcome of these hearings will be, there will be reforms. There must be, not just a New, but a Better Normal. Not only for ABS-CBN, but for the entire media industry,” he added.

The various bills on the ABS-CBN franchise renewal had been filed since 2014, and had been repeatedly filed since.

In March this year, both the Senate and the House of Representatives, through their respective resolutions, asked the NTC to grant the media giant a provisional authority to operate as the House promised to start the hearings on the various bills.

On May 4, the ABS CBN franchise expired. On May 5, the NTC issued a cease and desist order asking the media network to stop its radio and TV broadcast operations following the expiration of its franchise.

The NTC said it had no choice but to issue a cease and desist order, saying there is no law that allows the commission to grant provisional authority to a media network with an expired franchise. It urged ABS-CBN to seek a temporary restraining order from the Supreme Court on the NTC-issued CDO.

On May 7, ABS-CBN asked the high court for a TRO and asked it to nullify the NTC’s cease and desist order.

(Eagle News Service)