Senate panel opens hearing on ABS-CBN's franchise | Inquirer News
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Senate panel opens hearing on ABS-CBN’s franchise

/ 09:17 AM May 19, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Senate Public Services Committee on Tuesday opened its hearing on the franchise renewal of broadcast giant of ABS-CBN, which was forced off the air last May 5.

The “hybrid” hearing will tackle Senate Bill 981, which seeks to renew the franchise of ABS-CBN for another 25 years and Senate Bill 1521, which seeks to grant a temporary franchise to the network valid until the end of June 2022.

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The said hearing will be led by committee vice chair Senator Sherwin Gatchalian after panel chair Senator Grace Poe inhibited herself from participating on the deliberations of the measures and voting on ABS-CBN’s franchise.

Among those invited to the hearing are officials of ABS-CBN Corporation, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), Department of Justice, Department of Information and Communications Technology, as well as representatives from the Office of the Solicitor General, which earlier filed a petition before the Supreme Court seeking to revoke the network’s franchise.

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Former Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, retired Chief Justice Reynato Puno and retired Associate Justice Adolfo Azcuna were also invited.

The committee, however, will not come up with its report until the House of Representatives transmits its final version of the measure to the Senate, Gatchalian had said.

Under  the Constitution, a franchise bill must first be approved by the lower chamber before it can be tackled in Senate plenary.

Last week, the House approved on second reading a measure seeking to grant ABS-CBN an interim franchise valid until October 31, 2020, a shorter period than what was proposed in the Senate, only hours after it was filed by Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and other House leaders.

The second reading approval of the said bill, however,  was recalled on Monday after some lawmakers insisted “to further interpellate on the matter.”

A day after its franchise lapsed on May 4, ABS-CBN went off the air in compliance with the cease-and-desist order issued by the NTC directing the network to shut down its TV and radio broadcasting operations nationwide.

This, despite NTC’s earlier assurance that it would grant a provisional authority to ABS-CBN as Congress deliberates on the network’s pending franchise renewal.

GSG

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TAGS: ABS-CBN, Nation, News, provisional franchise, Senate hearing, Senate public services committee
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