‘Game changes’: Poe warns House decision on ABS-CBN ‘affects all franchises’ past and present

MANILA, Philippines — “The resolution on ABS-CBN affects all franchises both past and present.”

Senator Grace Poe said this Saturday, a day after the House of Representatives panel denied ABS-CBN Corp. a fresh 25-year franchise.

The senator, chair of the Senate committee on public services that started hearings on legislative franchises, said the non-renewal of ABS-CBN franchise “sets a dangerous precedent for all other franchises.”

The high and unforgiving bar to which the media entity was judged affects the legitimacy of all other franchise holders which use Philippine Depositary Receipts, tax schemes, and digital platforms all of which were treated legal before the instant case,” Poe added.

Poe also pointed out that even if ABS-CBN was already “certified as compliant,” the House resolution found that the media network still had violations that may pose danger to other franchises.

When you deny the privilege of broadcast to an entity which regulatory agencies have already certified as compliant, the game changes for all the players, she said.

Resolving that a franchise holder has violations beyond the terms and conditions of its franchise opens the floodgates for possible violations of all other franchise holders even without their knowledge until they have been told so by Congress, she added.

On Friday, 70 lawmakers voted to approve the technical working group’s report recommending the denial of a legislative franchise to ABS-CBN. Eleven lawmakers voted against the report, two inhibited, and one abstained.

Even before the House of Representatives tackled the media network’s franchise, Poe’s committee began discussions on ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal.

During the Senate public services committee hearing in February, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), as well as the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) cleared ABS-CBN of any violations.

Similarly, SEC and BIR as well as other government agencies concerned have attested to ABS-CBN’s compliance to rules and regulations during the public hearings at the House of Representatives.

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