There are moves to revive the franchise of ABS-CBN in the Senate with Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto 3rd and Senator Grace Poe taking the lead.
Sotto has filed Senate Bill No. 1967 seeking the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise, which expired in May last year.
“I noticed the TV stations have been replacing their news programs with animes. It means competition is absent and mediocrity is creeping in because of the absence of a strong competitor like ABS-CBN,” Sotto told reporters in a text message.
ABS-CBN’s wide reach to Filipinos, alongside with the undeniable advantages of broadcast media relative to mass communication, definitely call for the immediate renewal of the network’s franchise,” he said in the bill’s explanatory note.
But since the Constitution requires that a franchise bill must emanate from the House of Representatives, this means that any measure to revive the franchise of ABS-CBN in the Senate will be referred to the lower chamber first.
Also, even if a move to renew ABS-CBN’s franchise moves forward, which is unlikely at the House, there is no more frequency available for another or new television network as the frequency will be awarded to a new station that has applied ahead of ABS-CBN, a Congressman, who spoke on condition that his identity be withheld, told Sovereignph.
As for Poe, who heads the Senate Committee on Public Service, she said: “Given the crippling effects of the ABS-CBN shutdown and the need for more news outlets with the widest reach during the raging pandemic, the issue will be given utmost priority as soon as it is referred to the Committee on Public Service.”
For his part, Senator Joel Villanueva said he would support the measure. “My support for a free and fair media in the name of public service remains.” SOVEREIGNPH