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Non-renewal of ABS-CBN franchise under Aquino admin questioned

Keith A. Calayag



Why did the administration of former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III not renew the franchise of TV network ABS-CBN?

Anakalusugan Rep. Michael Defensor asked representatives of ABS-CBN the question during the joint panel hearing into the application of the network for a 25-year franchise on Monday.

Defensor pointed out it would have been easier for the broadcast giant to request for franchise to the Aquino administration as it was the latter’s mother, Corazon who allowed the return of ABS-CBN Corp. to the Lopez family after the martial law.

“Kung ang Pangulong Noynoy Aquino, na anak ng Pangulong Cory Aquino na ibinalik sa inyo e bakit hindi naman niya ibabalik ang inyong renewal?” said Defensor.

“Was there any problem with President Aquino or any of the officials of President Aquino?… Talent niyo si Kris Aquino, ang Presidente, Noynoy Aquino, anak ng President [Corazon] Cory Aquino. Ako po ay nagtataka bakit hindi niyo na-renew nung panahon na ‘yun?”

ABS-CBN CEO Carlo Katigbak in reply said he cannot answer for the former President, saying what he knows is that the network applied for franchise in the 16th and 17th Congress but only one hearing was conducted at that time and it was during the 16th Congress.

He also defended the network’s talents, saying they started speaking out because ABS-CBN was forced to go off air after Defensor asked why they started speaking out only now and not while the application is still pending before the administration of Aquino.

ABS-CBN Chairman Mark Lopez for his part said the network did not see the urgency at that time to pursue the franchise application.

“Nung hindi na siya gumalaw, we felt that we have time pa naman so we didn’t pursue it at that point,” Lopez said.

Although he said it is normal for an administration to express displeasure with the reporting of ABS-CBN, he said he cannot cite a specific issue that may have prompted the Aquino administration to not act on the franchise.

“I think yung negosyo ho namin sa ABS it’s quite normal na every administration nagkakatampuhan naman at some point kung may hindi magandang lumalabas,” Lopez said.

“But I cannot cite any specific issue at that point with the President na hindi natuloy dahil dun,” he added.

Both Katigbak and Lopez said they did not speak with either Kris or the former President to request that ABS-CBN’s franchise be renewed.

Earlier, Defensor defended the House leadership for its failure to act on ABS-CBN franchise before it lapsed last 4 May saying the past Congress under Aquino has also sat on the network’s franchise application for six years.

p: wjg