Philippine Congress denies new license for top broadcaster ABS-CBN


The Philippines’s House of Representative Committee on Legislative Franchises has rejected the bid of ABS-CBN, the country’s largest media network, for a fresh new franchise after a series of hearings.

Rep. Franz Alvarez, the chairperson of the House committee, announced that an overwhelming 70 lawmakers voted to adopt the technical working group’s (TWG) report recommending the denial of ABS-CBN’s franchise application.

Only 11 lawmakers voted against the report, while two inhibited and one abstained.

This essentially means that the resolution was adopted, marking the denial of ABS-CBN’s franchise application.

Following the rules of the House, only the members of the committee on legislative franchises voted on the bills that would have allowed ABS-CBN to go back on air, although it jointly conducted 13 hearings on the franchise bills with the committee on good government and accountability.

A total of 85 members registered their votes—of which 46 are regular members and 39 ex-officio members of the committee. As such, it would have only taken 43 votes to get the majority.

The committee likewise moved to adopt the recommendations of the report which includes a House probe, in aid of legislation, the practice of issuance of Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDRs) for industries required to be wholly owned and managed by Filipinos.

Further, the report also recommended that a relevant committee in the House probe, in aid of legislation, on the “various digital platform offerings of broadcast entities in order to protect the public interest and ensure compliance with legislative franchises or recommend amendments thereto to take into account technological advancements in digital broadcasting technology.”

Other issues that can be probed, the report recommended, are the current state of giving tax incentives to “prevent abusive tax avoidance measures” and questions on how ABS-CBN was able to recover its properties from the government “without recourse to the mandated procedures.”

The vote came after the House legislative franchise and good government and public accountability committees held 13 hearings tackling various issues such as citizenship of the network’s chairman emeritus Gabby Lopez, alleged labour violations, tax evasion, as well as alleged political bias, among others.

House Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate, an ex officio member of the committee, told that there are remedies that ABS-CBN and lawmakers who are for the franchise can resort to including the re-filing of a new bill which shall undergo the same process that the denied bills for the franchise went through.

Zarate also disclosed that there is a rule where a lawmaker who voted with the majority—in this scenario, a person who voted against the franchise renewal—can file a motion for reconsideration.

“[One remedy is] when a member file[s]for a motion for reconsideration, but not everybody can file a motion for reconsideration. Only a member who voted with the majority can vote for motion for reconsideration,” Zarate said.

“The motion for reconsideration will be heard in the same meeting if it’s raised in the same meeting or if it is raised on the same day on writing, it should be calendared by the committee for a hearing,” the lawmaker added. (Source: