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Senate adopts resolution allowing ABS-CBN to operate beyond franchise expiry

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The Senate on Wednesday adopted a resolution “expressing the sense of the Senate” to allow ABS-CBN Corporation and its subsidiaries to operate beyond the expiration of its franchise.

The 25-year franchise of the broadcast network will expire on May 4, 2020.

Senate Resolution 6, filed by Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on February 26, 2020, expressed the sense of the Senate that ABS-CBN “should continue to operate pending final determination of the renewal of its franchise by the 18th Congress.”

The resolution, in consideration with Senate Resolutions 7, 8 and 344 filed by “almost all” senators, was adopted without any objection from among those present in plenary.

The adopted resolution can be used as basis by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to grant ABS-CBN a provisional authority to continue its broadcast operations after the franchise expires.

During the previous hearing of the Committee on Public Services, chaired by Senator Grace Poe, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra suggested that Congress should allow, through a resolution, the NTC to issue the ABS-CBN a provisional authority to operate.

During interpellation and period of amendments, Drilon agreed that his concurrent resolution be made a simple resolution since the same does not have “the force and effect of the law.”

“It only formally conveys the sense of the Senate about extending the franchise and does not need the signature of the President,” he said.

Drilon said the resolution, though just an expression of the sense of the Senate, “would give some degree of legal stability” if Congress could issue authority to the NTC.

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