Rufus seeks grant of provisional franchise to ABS-CBN as new one up for deliberation
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY –– Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez has asked Congress to grant radio and television giant ABS-CBN a provisional franchise that’s effective until June 30, 2020, while the country’s lawmakers deliberate on the fate of the media company’s legislative franchise.
Rodriguez said he filed a new joint congressional resolution granting the temporary franchise on Wednesday (May 6).
“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,” he said in a statement.
Rodriguez said he has also a bill granting ABS-CBN a new franchise good 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 May 4,” the legislator said.
Rodriguez said, “it was unfortunate that the National Telecommunications Commission (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.”
The remedy, he added, is for the House to “speed up its hearings on my proposals for a temporary franchise and the grant of a new 25-year broadcasting service privilege.”
Rodriguez said he has 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 in the House to continue operating until its application is rejected.
“Such authority expressly given to the regulator would prevent a recurrence of the bitter quarrel among public officials on whether ABS-CBN should continue broadcasting, while the House is tackling the 11 pending renewal bills,” he said.
Rodriguez had authored a resolution extending the ABS-CBN franchise for one year, among at least 11 related proposals pending in the House committee on legislative franchises, most of which sought the extension of the network’s broadcasting privilege.
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