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Palace distances from moves to renew ABS-CBN’s franchise

MJ Blancaflor

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Malacañang on Tuesday distanced from the proposals to renew ABS-CBN’s franchise, noting that the grant of a broadcast license is a prerogative of Congress.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Monday filed Senate Bill No. 1967 that aims to renew ABS-CBN’s franchise, which expired in May last year.

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said the proposed measure will only be passed if it has the support of President Rodrigo Duterte’s office.

“Well, again, I beg to differ. That is a sole constitutional prerogative of Congress which must originate from the House ofRepresentatives,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in response.

Sotto, in his proposed measure, cited the network’s “wide reach to Filipinos, alongside with the undeniable advantages of broadcast media relative to mass communication.”

Later that day, Santos-Recto said she will also file a counterpart measure in the House of Representatives to give ABS-CBN Corp. a fresh 25-year legislative franchise.

ABS-CBN’s flagship channel 2 went off air on 5 May, following a cease-and-desist order from the National Telecommunications Commission due to expiration of its congressional franchise.

Two months later, lawmakers rejected ABS-CBN’s application for a new broadcast franchise — a move seen by many as an assault on the public’s right to information and press freedom since the network provides news, aside from entertainment shows.

President Duterte denied having a hand on ABS-CBN’s shutdown despite his repeated threats to shut down the broadcast giant which drew his ire over unaired political advertisements during the 2016 presidential campaign and its critical reportage of his war on drugs.

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