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Sotto seeks new ABS-CBN franchise

Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Monday filed a proposed measure seeking for the renewal of media giant ABS-CBN Corporation’s franchise which was rejected by the House of Representatives in March last year.

Sotto filed Senate Bill 7966, otherwise known as An Act granting ABS-CBN franchise to construct, install, operate and maintain television and radio broadcasting stations in the Philippines, and for other purposes for 25 years from the effectivity of this Act.”

in his proposed measure, Sotto cited a Social Weather Station Survey in December 2019 which was released September 2020 noting that ABS-CBN remains to be the top source of news in the country.

The survey said that 69 percent of Filipino adults or about 45 million individuals get their news through it while 19 percent of Filipinos rely on its radio for their news.

“This is despite the existence if several online social media and networking sites,” added Sotto.

The Senate president said ABS-CBN is the Philippines’ largest entertsinment and media network operating various platforms including domestic television, radio networks, worldwide OTT, and online platforms.

He said that In September (2020), ABS-CBN is still the top choice of nationwide viewers in the country as they prefer to catch relevant news and inspiring TV series on ABS-CBN.

He said the network registered an average audience share of 45 percent or 14 points higher than GMA’s 31 percent based on the data from Kantar Media.

Likewise, Filipinos abroad feel a little less away fom home due to the Filipino channel, commonly known sd TFC, also owned and operatdd by ABS-CBN. TFC airs program being shown in the ABS-CBN television network.

“ABS-CBN wide reach to Filipinos, alongside with the undeniable advantages of broadcast media relative to mass communication, definitely calls for the immediate renewal of the network’s franchise.

Thus the passage of the bills is earnestly sought,” Sotto said.

Sotto said there could be a better chance for an ABS-CBN franchise with new House Speaker- Lord Allan Velasco, and new officers.

"There could be a better chance. I noticed the TV stations have been replacing their news programs with Animes. It means competition is absent and mediocrity is creeping in because of the absence of a strong competitor like ABS-CBN," Sotto said.

Meanwhile, Senator Grace Poe said the ‘crippling effects’ of the ABS-CBN shutdown and the need for more news outlets with the widest reach during the raging pandemic will be given utmost priority as soon as it is referred to the Committee on Public Service.

However, since the Constitution requires that bills of such nature originate from the House, it will most likely be referred to Rules until the House grants the franchise.

“My support for a free and fair media in the name of public service remains. I will make sure that the Committee acts on it in due course,” she added.

Sen. Joel Villanueva said he is co-authoring that bill. “We all know that ABS-CBN deserves the renewal of its franchise given the service

It has rendered to the Filipino people.”

Sen. Sonny Angara said he supports the bill. “But as you know, it’s all dependent on what the House since it is subject to the origination clause of the Constitution where certain types of bills including franchise bills must originate from the house.”

Topics: Vicente Sotto III , franchise , renewal , ABS-CBN Corporation , House of Representatives
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