Bill renewing ABS-CBN franchise refiled in House

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 24) — A bill that would grant TV network ABS-CBN a fresh 25-year franchise has been refiled in the House of Representatives, seven months before its existing legislative franchise expires.

Nueva Ecija 2nd District Rep. Micaela Violago, who also filed the bill in the previous Congress, refiled the measure a day after the 18th Congress opened.

“In acknowledgement of ABS-CBN’s accomplishments and the capital requirements of its operations, the immediate renewal of its original franchise which expires on March 30, 2020, is recommended to ensure the uninterrupted and improved delivery of its services to the Filipino people,” Violago said in filing House Bill No. 676.

The renewal of the franchise of the listed broadcasting company did not pass in the 17th Congress, where the measure remained pending in the committee from 2016 until it adjourned in June.

ABS-CBN could be forced to shut down if it fails to secure a fresh 25-year franchise from Congress, which is currently dominated by President Rodrigo Duterte’s allies.

The TV network, among the largest in the country, had 6,730 regular employees, 900 non-regular employees and 3,325 talents at the end of 2018, according to its report to the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Philippine Stock Exchange.

ABS-CBN has earned the ire of Duterte for supposedly failing to air his campaign ad.

He has threatened to veto the renewal of the TV network’s franchise.

Along with ABS-CBN, Duterte has also attacked other media outfits, including broadsheet Philippine Daily Inquirer and online news site Rappler.

CNN Philippines Correspondent Xianne Arcangel contributed to this report.