A total of 17 of the 24 senators, or a majority, have expressed support for the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said on Tuesday.
“I don’t think it will have a difficult time here in the Senate,” said Zubiri.
Zubiri said many senators are “sympathizers” of ABS-CBN.
However, senators would not be able to vote on ABS-CBN’s franchise until a bill seeking to extend it for another 25 years has been approved by the House of Representatives and transmitted to the Senate.
The franchise bill remains pending in the Lower Chamber.
Zubiri said that among the senators who support renewal of the franchise of ABS-CBN are Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, Senators Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., chairman of the Senate committee on public information and mass media, and Grace Poe, head of the Senate committee on public services, and Sonny Angara.
Senator Christopher “Bong” Go said the expiration date of ABS-CBN is really May 5. Go noted that if Congress would not renew their contract, the television company still has 45 days to operate.
“If there is no denial, no approval, no actions taken by Congress, they can operate based on temporary permit from the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC),” said Go.
Sotto said ABS-CBN may still continue to operate until 2022 as long as there is a pending bill extending or renewing its franchise.
“They can still operate. If it’s not approved on March of 2022, that’s the only time that it’s terminated,” said Sotto.
“As long as there is a filed bill, it is deemed extended, it’s filed. It has happened so many times with other franchises,” Sotto said.
Sotto said Congress should just reject the franchise extension if it does not want to grant it to ABS-CBN.
“Kung talagang ayaw ng Congress na bigyan, i-deny na nila yung franchise. Ayaw pala nilang bigyan eh, i-deny nila ‘di ba?” he said.
Sotto served as chair of the committee on public services during the 10th Congress./Stacy Ang