MANILA – Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez on Wednesday filed a joint resolution seeking to grant shuttered media giant ABS-CBN a provisional franchise good up to the life of the present Congress on June 30, 2022.
In filing House Joint Resolution No. 30, Rodriguez said both the House of Representatives and the Senate need more time to review, assess, and determine whether or not ABS-CBN shall be granted a new franchise.
“I am filing today a new joint congressional resolution granting the temporary franchise. I am hoping we can expedite the hearings on this measure amid the Covid-19 pandemic even if we have to hear all stakeholders through the new normal videoconferencing platform,” Rodriguez said.
The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) on Tuesday ordered the network to halt the operations of its television and radio broadcasting stations nationwide following the expiration of its franchise.
Rodriguez also filed House Bill 6694 seeking to grant ABS-CBN a new franchise valid for 25 years.
“It has to be a new grant and no longer a renewal since the radio-tv station’s franchise already expired midnight of last May 4,” he said.
Rodriguez said it was unfortunate that the NTC “chose to ignore the collective voice of the House and the Senate for it to issue a provisional authority to ABS-CBN to allow it to pursue its broadcast services.”
“Now the remedy is for the House to speed up its hearings on my proposals for a temporary franchise and for the grant of a new 25-year broadcasting service privilege,” he said.
Rodriguez also proposed that Congress include in any legislative franchise it would grant in the future an authority for the NTC or any concerned regulator to provisionally allow a franchisee with an expired franchise and a renewal application pending with the House to continue operating until its application is rejected.
The NTC, in a cease-and-desist order dated May 5, said ABS-CBN must cease its broadcast operations “due to the expiration of its congressional franchise” on May 4.
It ordered ABS-CBN, which has more than 11,000 employees, to halt the operations of its 42 television stations across the country, 10 digital broadcast channels, 18 FM stations, and five AM stations.
ABS-CBN’s franchise expired on May 4 following the House of Representatives’ failure to act on the 11 pending bills that seek to renew the 25-year franchise of the local media giant.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte could not certify the franchise bills as urgent because of “private interest” involving ABS-CBN.
It is improper to certify as urgent the bills for the franchise renewal of ABS-CBN, he said.
“I’ve not seen any franchise bill to have been certified as urgent by the President. So in that sense, no certification is forthcoming because it is for all intended purposes a private bill that grants a privilege to a private company. I don’t think it is proper to have it certified as urgent,” Roque said.
Only the legislative branch has the “primary and exclusive” power to decide on ABS-CBN’s fate, he said, adding that the House can now start deliberating on the pending franchise bills since the session of Congress resumed on May 4. (ia/PNA)