Amidst pay cut for its artists and talents and looming retrenchment in ABS-CBN, Buhay partylist Rep. Lito Atienza says it’s time to put the network’s franchise renewal application to a vote.
The lawmaker made this statement recently and described the legislative hearings on ABS-CBN franchise as a case of “wasting official congressional time, and the nation’s time and people’s patience that is now bordering on exasperation.”
Almost two months after its shutdown, the network has yet to secure a new franchise with its application still at the committee level in the House of Representatives.
Respected economist and TV personality Solita “Winnie” Monsod shared Atienza’s sentiment based on her June 20 column for the Philippine Daily Inquirer with the title “Stop the farce, renew ABS-CBN’s franchise.”
Monsod said the Lower House has wasted time and resources in devoting “at least seven hearings to the issue,” a wild stretch compared to the renewal of other media outlets including her home network, GMA7.
She also hit some lawmakers for allegedly “scraping the bottom of their barrel of tricks” by attempting to revise history as they remain unable to prove the alleged violations of the network.
Similarly, Manila Standard columnist Elizabeth Angsioco did not mince words when she wrote about how “desperate” some legislators appear to be in blocking the bill’s passage. Like Monsod, she believes the opposition has failed to prove ABS-CBN is guilty of violating the Constitution with issues on Gabby Lopez’s citizenship, sale of PDRs, the return of facilities to the Lopezes, and the 50-year limit for mass media franchise.
“The more I watch the proceedings, the more I am convinced that ABS-CBN deserves to have its franchise renewed,” she even said in her article published also on June 20.
Veteran columnist and former newspaper editor-in-chief Jullie Yap-Daza, meanwhile, did not say it outright but hinted her position that bringing ABS-CBN back on-air will help solve the government’s problem in educating our children during the pandemic.
In her piece “Radio for barrios” last June 25 for the publication Tempo, Yap-Daza mentioned ABS-CBN as she talked about President Rodrigo Duterte’s solution of giving a transistor radio to every child in remote villages to aid in distance learning.
“Fortunately, Mr. President, ABSCBN has the widest, farthest reach to teach, with five AM and 18 FM radio stations (plus 42 TV stations) covering the archipelago’s most farflung barrios and barangays. The solution is within sight and sound, Sir,” she said.
Meanwhile, another committee hearing on the ABS-CBN franchise is scheduled today (June 29), with legislators set to tackle issues on labor, taxes, and ABS-CBN TVplus.
Unable to air on free TV and radio, the network continues to bleed financially as it loses around P30 million to P35 million every day in ad revenues.
Even as Kapamilya artists and talents have agreed to lower their fees in support of the network, the possibility of letting go of employees remains in the horizon as ABS-CBN absorbs the impact of both the shutdown of its radio and free-to-air TV operations and the COVID-19 pandemic.
For now, ABS-CBN is able to air some of its shows on cable and satellite TV via the Kapamilya Channel, and on its various digital platforms like iWant and TFC.tv as it hopes to continue serving the millions of Filipinos that rely on it for news, entertainment, and public service.