Wed. May 12th, 2021
(Photo Courtesy: http://www.change.org)

Malacañang is leaving it to Congress to act on a proposed bill seeking to give a fresh franchise to broadcast giant ABS-CBN.

Senate President Vicente Sotto 3rd earlier filed Senate Bill 1967 to renew for another 25 years ABS-CBN’s legislative franchise, which a House of Representatives committee rejected in July 2020.

Several senators, including Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, have expressed support for the measure but he said it would pass “only with (the) Palace’s support.”

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque disagreed with Recto, saying only Congress could act on the proposal to grant ABS-CBN a new franchise.

“Well, again, I beg to differ. That is a sole constitutional prerogative of Congress, which must originate from the House of Representatives,” Roque said.

On May 5 last year, ABS-CBN ceased its broadcast operations a day after the expiration of the network’s legislative franchise, following the National Telecommunications Commission’s cease and desist order.

The House Committee on Legislative Franchises on July 10 voted against ABS-CBN’s franchise bid for another 25 years in a 70-11 vote.

Currently, ABS-CBN continues its news and public affairs operations online and through the newly rebranded “A2Z”, previously known as Zoe TV Channel 11 or Zoe TV.

In filing Senate Bill 1967, Sotto cited a Social Weather Stations survey released in September 2020, saying TV remains to be the top source of news in the country.

“ABS-CBN is still the top choice of viewers in the Philippines as its viewers nationwide prefer to catch relevant news and inspiring TV series on ABS-CBN as the network registered an average audience share of 45 percent or 14 points higher than GMA’s 31 percent,” he said in the bill, citing ratings data from Kantar Media.

House Deputy Speaker and Batangas 6th District Rep. Vilma Santos-Recto said she would also file a new bill renewing ABS-CBN’s franchise.Santos-Recto, a former actress, was among the 11 members of the House legislative franchises committee who voted in favor of ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal in 2020. SOVEREIGNPH

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