BAGUIO City representative Mark Go urged the House Committee on Legislative Franchises to convene immediately regarding ABS-CBN’s franchise after the National Telecommunications Commission’s (NTC) abruptly ordered the media giant to shut down its broadcast operations on Tuesday, March 5.
According to Rep. Go, the NTC’s sudden cease-and-desist order against ABS-CBN was “unfortunate”, given that the agency earlier committed to Congress in a hearing that it would issue a provisional authority to the network.
The Baguio representative authored HB 6138, which sought the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise. The bill was also one of 11 legislative measures filed in Congress regarding the broadcast company’s franchise and operations.
The lawmaker also said that he had expected NTC to grant the network a temporary permit to continue their broadcast operations while Congress deliberated on the bills pending its franchise renewal. Congress has the sole authority to grant franchises to public utilities, such as broadcast companies.
Congressman Go stressed the urgency for the House committee to act on the matter, adding that the network’s shutdown is a “difficult loss for the country, considering ABS-CBN’s crucial role as being at the forefront of providing news and important information to the public in the midst of the current Covid-19 crisis.”
ABS-CBN employs 11,000 people across the nation, including the ABS-CBN TV-3 station in Baguio City, who will lose their jobs as a result of the shutdown. According to Go, it will be difficult for thousands of workers and their families to lose their source of income in the middle of the pandemic.
The representative also said that broadcast media has been Filipinos’ primary source of information “in every natural calamity, terror attack, and public health concern that has hit the nation.” Go added that in the wake of misinformation in the age of social media and the internet, “we were able to find comrades in the ranks of traditional media who are committed to upholding truth and the values of responsible media practice.”
Go recognized ABS-CBN, the country’s largest media network, as being at the forefront of the nation’s broadcasting industry “by continuously elevating the standards of quality programming through its news and current affairs programs, entertainment shows, and humanitarian efforts in communities throughout the country.”