13 senators eye provisional franchise for ABS-CBN a week after shutdown
MANILA, Philippines — At least 13 senators on Monday filed a bill seeking to grant provisional franchise to ABS-CBN until June 30, 2022, as Congress deliberates on the renewal of its franchise, which expired on May 4, 2020.
Senate Bill No. 1521 comes after ABS-CBN was forced off the air after the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) issued a cease-and-desist order directing the network to stop its television and radio broadcasting station nationwide pending Congress’ approval of its franchise application.
This, despite the commission’s earlier assurance that it would grant a provisional authority to the network pending its franchise renewal.
“The non-renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise will result in the loss of thousands of jobs as the network has over 11,017 employees including its artists, independent contractors, suppliers, and content creators who are spread out in ABS-CBN’s information and entertainment group of companies,” the bill’s explanatory note read.
“ABS-CBN is also one of the country’s two biggest networks. Hence, the cessation of its operations would imperil the Philippine advertising industry who has historically invested up to 75 percent of its P151-billion business into TV,” it added.
The senators also pointed out that it is all the more urgent that “legislative interventions are taken to ensure that ABS-CBN will continue their operations” as the country grapples with the coronavirus pandemic when “the public is in need not just of reliable sources of information but also of entertainment.”
“Considering the network’s huge economic contribution to the country, this measure should also be viewed as an attempt to save all the thousands of direct and indirect jobs dependent on ABS-CBN in a time of great unease and economic contraction,” the bill stated.
“Indeed, in the face of all the challenges brought by the COVID-19 virus, the government must do all it can to ease the burdens faced by its people,” it added.
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