By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN
With just three months remaining before its current franchise lapses, efforts to secure franchise renewal of broadcast giant ABS-CBN failed to prosper this 2019.
Not a single of the franchise renewal bill of ABS-CBN filed in the House of Representatives under the 18th Congress has been tackled by the Committee of Legislative Franchises under Palawan Rep. Franz “Chicoy” Alvarez with only two days remaining before the end of the decade.
Nine proposed legislations seeking to give the broadcast giant a fresh start were already pending before the Lower House.
Prior to the congressional break earlier this month, two more proposed legislations that seek to to give the Kapamilya network a fresh 25-year franchise starting this coming March were filed by Reps. Rufus Rodriguez (Cagayan de Oro) and Josephine Ramirez-Sato (Mindoro Oriental) under House Bills 5705 and 5753 respectively.
ABS-CBN needs to secure the passage of their congressional franchise on or before March 30, 2020—the expiration date set by its current franchise under Republic Act No. 7966—or the network will have to cease operating as a broadcast network if Congress fails to act on the franchise bill.
Earlier in December, House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said there is still hope that the franchise application of broadcast giant ABS-CBN may hurdle congressional approval before it expires by March 2020.
The House leader sadi there is “more than enough time” for the franchise panel to tackle it by “January (or) February.”
“March pa naman ‘yung expiration ng franchise,” said Cayetano.
But Cayetano admitted that uncertainty still remains over the status of the ABS-CBN’s franchise application amidst President Rodrigo Duterte’s latest threat to block its renewal.
“Depende sa kalalabasan ng hearing. I cannot preempt the committee or the issues that will be taken,” said Cayetano’s response when asked if Congress can approve the Kapamilya network’s franchise bill ahead of its expiration