ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal will not be discussed by the House of Representatives this year, its leader Taguig Congressman Alan Peter Cayetano said today.
Cayetano, who is on record as being no fan of the network, told Rappler that they will discuss the renewal in January and February next year, believing that they have “more than enough time” to do so, despite the franchise expiring on March 30, 2020.
“I reiterate that Congress would be fair. We’ll always have a fair hearing. ABS-CBN’s management knows about this as well, that we needed to discuss the  budget and revenue bills [first],” Cayetano said in English and Filipino.
Just last month, Cayetano admitted that he had “personal objections” to renewing the franchise of the broadcaster, which he accused of having interfered in the 2016 elections to his ally President Rodrigo Duterte’s disadvantage.
Meanwhile, Congressman Franz Alvarez, who chairs the House Committee on Legislative Franchises, told CNN Philippines in a separate interview that they have no scheduled hearings this month to tackle ABS-CBN’s franchise.
The two lawmakers’ statements came after President Rodrigo Duterte last night renewed his threats against ABS-CBN, again saying that he would personally reject their franchise renewal when it crossed his desk. In a speech at Malacañang Palace, he said, “I’m sorry. You’re out. I will see to it that you’re out.”
Duterte’s hate for ABS-CBN stems from the company’s alleged refusal to air his political ads back in 2016. He said that ABS-CBN offered to return his money, but he refused, saying that it was already too late.
Should ABS-CBN shut down, it will affect 6,730 regular workers, 900 contract workers, and 3,325 on-air “talents.”
Observers have said that ABS-CBN is more than just a media company. Its newscasters and celebrities have become popular all over the country thanks to its wide reach, enabling many to launch successful political careers.
Newscaster Noli de Castro, for example, was a former vice president of the Philippines, while former reporters Loren Legarda and Sol Aragones have gone on to become congresswomen.