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Solon questions franchise bill’s provision requiring ABS-CBN to give 10% paid ads to gov’t

/ 02:17 PM May 18, 2020

Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez. (Photo from Rufus B. Rodriguez Facebook page)

MANILA, Philippines — A lawmaker wants a provision in the ABS-CBN provisional franchise bill, which requires the network to “allocate” 10 percent of its paid commercials and advertisement to the national government, removed from the measure.

Cagayan de Oro 2nd District Rep. Rufus Rodriguez labelled Section 4 of House Bill No. 6732–which grants ABS-CBN a provisional franchise to operate until October 31, 2020–as “unequal protection of the law” since it is not included in the previous franchise of the network.

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The said section states that “unless sooner revoked or canceled” states that the network shall “provide free of charge, adequate public service time which is reasonable and sufficient to enable the government” to relay important public issues  and important public announcements concerning public emergencies and calamities.

The provision defines “public service time” as “ten percent of the paid commercials or advertisements which shall be allocated based on need to the executive, legislative judiciary, constitutional commissions and international humanitarian organizations duly recognized by statutes.”

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“[I want] to remove this requirement that there should be public service time. 10 percent of the commercials and advertisements shall be given free to the executive, legislative, judiciary, and constitutional commissions,” Rodriguez told INQUIRER.net.

“That is I believe unequal protection of the law because other [franchises] issued earlier including the 1995 franchise of ABS-CBN does not contain that,” he added.

Rodriguez said he notified the secretariat about the proposed amendment to the bill before the House approved the measure on second reading last May 13. However, it was not considered.

The lawmaker, likewise, questioned the “undue delegation” of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to promulgate the rules and regulation for the public service time.

“Now it gives so much discretion because there is no allocation of how much time goes to the judiciary, to the executive, it should be equal,” Rodriguez said.

The said provision likewise raised concerns that public service time could be used to dictate on the network.

Asked about this concern, Deputy Speaker Dan Fernandez, one of the authors of the bill, underscored that the provision is only for natural calamities and national emergencies and not all throughout the validity of the franchise.

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“No, not at all I think NTC will issue guidelines to apply that [section] not only to [ABS-CBN] but to all networks. It must be the law must be applied to all or none at all,” Fernandez told INQUIRER.net in a text message.

As of writing, the bill is awaiting its approval on final reading in the lower chamber before it is transmitted to the Senate for its own deliberations.

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TAGS: ABS-CBN, ABS-CBN franchise, ABS-CBN shutdown
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