By Mario Casayuran
Senator Manuel “Lito” Lapid has filed a bill seeking to provide provisional licenses to radio stations with pending franchise renewal applications before the Congress.
The Lapid measure, Senate Bill 1522, seeks to amend Section 1 of Republic Act No. 3846 which is the law that provides the regulation of radio stations and radio communications in the country.
A provision of the bill states that “A legislative franchise for a radio station of any person, firm, company, association or corporation shall be deemed provisionally renewed upon the valid filing in Congress of a bill seeking for its renewal.”
The bill further provides that the provisional license must be given to the radio station provided that the filing of the bill for its franchise renewal is made before the actual expiration of the legislative franchise.
Lapid, chairman of the Senate games and amusement committee, stressed that the “validity of the provisional renewal shall be until the next adjournment of Congress.”
“Malinaw na may pagkukulang o butas sa ating batas kaugnay sa pag-renew ng prangkisa ng isang kumpanya pero kaya naman itong remedyuhan ng isa ring batas. Layunin ng panukalang inihain ko na solusyunan ang pagkukulang o hindi patas na probisyon kaugnay sa pagtrato sa mga kumpanyang humihiling na ma-renew ang kanilang prangkisa. Hindi dapat ibigay ang buong kapangyarihan sa National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) para magdesisyon kung ano-anong istasyon ang magpapatuloy ang operasyon at ano ang dapat nang ipasara habang nakabinbin ang aplikasyon para sa renewal ng kanilang prangkisa,” Lapid added.
(There is a loophole in the law as it has no provision on the renewal of a franchise of a company. That it what this bill seeks to remedy. This measure seeks to resolve the lack or unfair provision on the treatment of companies seeking renewal of their franchises. It is not right for the NTC to unilaterally decide on what station it would allow to operate or what to shut down while the petition for franchise renewal is still pending.)
“May mga istasyon na pinayagan nilang mag-operate kahit paso na ang mga prangkisa habang dinidinig ng Kongreso nung mga unang pagkakataon pero nakakalungkot na hindi nila ito nagawa para sa ABS-CBN gayong nauna nang nangako ang NTC na papayagan nila itong mag-operate kung sakaling hindi agad maisabatas ang prangkisa nito bago pa man ito mag-expire nung May 4,” he said.
(In the past, the NTC allowed some stations to operate while their franchises were being heard by Congress. It is sad to note that NTC did not accord such privilege or option to ABS-CBN although it gave its word to allow the network while its franchise renewal is still pending in Congress even after its expiration last May 4.
Lapid filed the measure almost a week after the NTC issued a cease and desist order against ABS-CBN.
The major TV network was forced to stop its operation in compliance with the NTC’s order following the expiration of its 25-year franchise last May 4.
‘’While we can simply dismiss an inaction by Congress to a franchise application or a renewal for that matter, as a simple denial of an application, it would seem to be not true and prudent if it involves the livelihood of several thousands in an institution that has long established itself as the country’s premier broadcasting station,’’ he said.
“Kung nagkaroon lang sana ng mas mahaba pang oras para sa ABS-CBN, nasagot at naresolba sana nila ang lahat ng isyu na pinupukol sa kanila sa gitna ng panahong humihiling sila na marenew ang kanilang prangkisa. Kung sinunod lang din sana ng NTC ang kanilang pangako na mabigyan ng provisional license ang ABS-CBN habang nakapending ang kanilang application sa franchise renewal, hindi sana manganganib ang trabaho ng libu-libong empleyado ng nasabing TV Network at patuloy pa rin sana ang publiko sa panonood ng balita at mga paborito nilang palabas sa ABS-CBN,” Lapid said.
(Had it been given time, ABS-CBN could have answered or resolved the issues or accusations leveled against it. Had NTC kept its word to give provisional license to ABS-CBN while its franchise application is still pending, then thousands of employees of the TV network could have kept their jobs and people could their favorite newscasts and programs uninterrupted.)