Business groups call for ABS-CBN franchise renewal

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Four of the biggest business groups in the Philippines called on Congress to act on bills filed by several lawmakers to renew the broadcasting franchise of media giant ABS-CBN.

The Makati Business Club, Institute of Corporate Directors, Institute for Solidarity in Asia, Management Association of the Philippines, Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines, and Shareholders' Association of the Philippines issued a joint statement on Tuesday, February 18, asking the legislature for "balanced, fair, and timely consideration" of the moves to keep ABS-CBN on-air.

The groups also pointed out the media's role in the economy.

"We fervently urge Congress to judiciously address any issues raised against the company while taking serious account of the bedrock issues of media freedom and free enterprise, which allow businesses to flourish for the overall welfare of our economy and our people," they said.

President Rodrigo Duterte claims that ABS-CBN did not air his political ads in 2016, and even suggested that the network "sell" to a white knight investor.

The House of Representatives has yet to act on franchise renewal measures, with Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano openly stating that he did not like ABS-CBN's coverage of the 2016 elections. Cayetano ran but lost in the vice presidential race then. (READ: Gerald Anderson as Alan Peter Cayetano)

Bills seeking to renew the franchise for another 25 years were first filed in 2014, but remained pending at the committee level.

Solicitor General Jose Calida has filed a quo warranto petition against ABS-CBN, claiming the network violated the Constitution by using Philippine Depositary Receipts, a legal financial instrument. – Rappler.com

 

Ralf Rivas

A sociologist by heart, a journalist by profession. Ralf is Rappler's business reporter, covering macroeconomy, government finance, companies, and agriculture.

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