House panels tackle ABS-CBN’s alleged ‘political bias’ | Inquirer News

House panels tackle ABS-CBN’s alleged ‘political bias’

/ 01:54 PM July 06, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Two committees of the House of Representatives convened on Monday to tackle what arguably is one of the most controversial issues that is hounding ABS-CBN in its bid for a 25-year franchise — the media giant’s alleged “political bias”.

The House committee on legislative franchises and the committee on good government and public accountability continued its series of hybrid hearings — with some lawmakers and resource in the plenary hall while the others present through videoconferencing — on ABS-CBN’s bid for a new franchise.

This is the 12th hearing conducted by the joint committees on ABS-CBN’s franchise wherein various issues such as the citizenship of the network’s chair emeritus Gabby Lopez, the Lopez family’s reclamation of the network after the EDSA Revolution, the alleged labor violations of the network, and tax-related issues, among others, have previously been discussed.


Political bias?

In a Senate hearing in February, ABS-CBN president and chief executive officer Carlo Katigbak admitted that the network failed to air P7 million-worth of local political ads paid for by then-presidential candidate and Davao City Duterte mayor Rodrigo Duterte in the 2016 presidential elections.


He said that they were able to refund approximately P4 million to Duterte, which was accepted.

But Katigbak noted that the network was able to air all of Duterte’s national ads in the presidential elections.

Further, Katigbak apologized to Duterte if the President was “offended” over a controversial political ad it aired during the campaign season while maintaining that the network abided by laws and regulations on the airing of such ads.

The 30-second ad showed children questioning Duterte’s foul language. The ad was paid for by former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV.

Duterte has since accepted Katigbak’s apology and said that he would let Congress decide on ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal, stressing that it must first come from the House of Representatives. The President said he is not going to interfere with the lower chamber’s moves on the matter.

In November 2019, House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, who served as Duterte’s running-mate in the 2016 elections, also aired his personal issue with ABS-CBN’s alleged unfair air time given to vice presidential candidates during the campaign season.


What happens next?

The “political bias” issue is seen as one of the last, if not the last, issue that the House committees seek to tackle with regard to ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal bid.

While the hearings were jointly conducted by the two House panels, only the 46 members of the legislative franchise committee, as well as the 44 House officials who are considered ex officio members, will be able to vote.

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If the members’ vote will be for the franchise renewal, ABS-CBN’s application will be up for discussion in the plenary.

TAGS: ABS-CBN, ABS-CBN shutdown, Rodrigo Duterte

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