TIMELINE: Duterte against ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – With the clock ticking before its franchise expiration on March 30, leading TV network ABS-CBN depends on at least 9 bills filed with Congress seeking a renewal.
ABS-CBN's television broadcast arm would have to cease operations if the renewal is not granted on time. However, they may still be able to operate by distributing its content onto other media platforms, such as online and through the company's publishing and movie production arms. (READ: Duterte’s ace against ABS-CBN, the Philippines’ biggest network)
Here’s what you need to know about the company’s years-long tussle with the government under President Rodrigo Duterte:
March 30, 1995
May 5, 2016
During the 2016 elections campaign period, ABS-CBN airs an advertisement showing clips of Duterte cursing, uttering a controversial rape remark, and saying he is ready to kill. Senator Antonio Trillanes IV paid for this ad.
ABS-CBN later says that it was “duty-bound to air a legitimate ad.”
June 11, 2016
ABS-CBN says they applied for early renewal in 2014 through the normal legislative process. However, due to time constraints, ABS-CBN withdraws, opting to seek renewal in the 17th Congress.
“Claims that the franchise will not be extended are purely speculative,” ABS-CBN says in a statement.
November 10, 2016
Nueva Ecija Representative Micaela Violago files House Bill (HB) 4349 in the 17th Congress. The bill seeks to renew the franchise for another 25 years.
March 30, 2017
Duterte calls ABS-CBN and newspaper Philippine Daily Inquirer “bastos (rude)” for allegedly reporting unfair news about him and writing in favor of the interests of the owners. He says that one day, “karma will come” to them.
He says the Inquirer is “bullshit” and that ABS-CBN “published trash.” Duterte calls the Prietos and Lopezes, the respective owners of the companies, “oligarchs and elites.”
In response, the Inquirer says it has “upheld the highest standards of excellence in journalism” since its founding in 1985.
March 31, 2017
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) calls out Duterte for lashing out against the media, saying it was a “brazen abuse of your immense power as chief executive of this land and only shows how little, if any, appreciation you have of democracy and governance.”
April 6, 2017
ABS-CBN Chairman Eugenio “Gabby” Lopez III says that the administration's anger triggered by the reports is “part and parcel” of the work of a media institution. ABS-CBN maintains that the company has observed “fair and balanced” reporting.
April 27, 2017
Duterte accuses ABS-CBN of “swindling,” claiming that the network did not show his political ads during the 2016 campaign although they were already paid for.
These comments come just a few days after Duterte renewed the franchise of GMA Network, ABS-CBN’s rival, for another 25 years.
Meanwhile, HB 4349 remains at the committee level. Duterte tells Congress, “No need to renew it.”
May 19, 2017
Duterte says he will file charges of “multiple syndicated estafa” against ABS-CBN, in a speech at an event launch of housing designs for the military and police.
“Kawalang hiya ninyo, kapal ng mukha ninyo, putang-ina ninyo, leche kayo (You have no shame, your faces are too thick, you sons of bitches),” he says, addressing ABS-CBN chairman Eugenio “Gabby” Lopez III.
"Gabby Lopez, I paid ABS-CBN P2.8 million....You accepted my money, you never bothered to show my propaganda (political advertisements). After the elections, you didn't return the money," he adds.
He says other candidates such as his running mate Alan Peter Cayetano and vice presidential candidate Francis Escudero experienced the same.
August 3, 2018
The President repeats his threat to block ABS-CBN’s franchise in a speech at the inauguration of a drug rehabilitation facility in Bukidnon.
He challenges ABS-CBN executives to let him slap them if records show he has less than P40 million in his bank accounts.
June 12, 2019
The Philippine Star reports that the House of Representatives froze HB 4349. A lawmaker, who requested anonymity, says no action on any bill seeking to renew the ABS-CBN franchise would be taken as long as the network still has issues with the President.
ABS-CBN later says it is unable to comment on or clarify this report.
July 1, 2019
HB 4349 lapses after 17th Congress adjourns, but its same sponsor Representative Micaela Violago refiles the first bill in the 18th Congress to extend ABS-CBN’s franchise.
October 29, 2019
House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano announces they are set to deliberate on the franchise renewal. At this point, there are at least 5 bills filed that seek to renew ABS-CBN’s franchise.
December 3, 2019
In a speech before new Malacañang officials, Duterte says he is still angry with ABS-CBN, telling the network, “If you expect that (the franchise) will be renewed, I’m sorry. I will see to it that you’re out.”
This is the third time Duterte reiterates this threat.
December 4, 2019
Cayetano says they will no longer tackle the franchise renewal bills for the remainder of 2019, saying there will be “more than enough time” for deliberations in 2020.
Although Cayetano said earlier he has a “personal complaint” against ABS-CBN for "unjust meddling" in the 2016 elections, he gave assurances there will be “fair” deliberation in the House.
House Minority Leader Bienvenido Abante Jr says the majority congressmen "might perhaps toe the line" with Duterte, which would make it “almost next to impossible” to renew the franchise.
December 30, 2019
Duterte tells ABS-CBN it would be better to “just sell” the network, remarking that Congress renewing the franchise is unlikely.
January 2, 2020
House Committee on Legislative Franchises Chair Franz Alvarez promises his committee would deliberate on the franchise renewal bills.
He tells ABS-CBN that securing a franchise from Congress is “not a right, but a privilege.”
February 10, 2020
Solicitor General Jose Calida files a quo warranto petition with the Supreme Court against ABS-CBN. In the "Very Urgent Omnibus Motion," Calida asks the High Court to void the franchises of the network giant and ABS-CBN Convergence, Inc "as they are unlawfully exercising their legislative franchises." – Rappler.com
Editor's note: We have clarified that the non-renewal of ABS-CBN's franchise would primarily affect its television broadcasting arm.