Groups slam denial of ABS-CBN franchise renewal

Published July 11, 2020, 12:22 PM

by Raymund Antonio

Several progressive and sectoral groups across the country voiced their outrage over the move of Congress rejecting ABS-CBN’s application for franchise renewal. 

The Akbayan Youth, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, Karapatan Alliance Philippines, and the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), among others, condemned the rejection of the ABS-CBN franchise.

This came after the House committee on legislative franchise, voting 70 to 11, junked the franchise renewal of the media network. It adopted the recommendation of its technical working group denying the 25-year franchise extension. 

“The government is sabotaging itself by shutting down ABS-CBN. At a time where the free flow of information is important, closing down the country’s biggest TV station will force a lot of communities to face the pandemic blind,” Akbayan Youth chair RJ Naguit said.

Karapatan said the denial of ABS-CBN’s bid for a new franchise was the “biggest blow” on press freedom in the country.

Beyond press freedom, the two groups also noted ABS-CBN employees stand to lose their jobs in the middle of the pandemic.

“Not only it is an attack on press freedom: it is also an attack on the rights of thousands of workers,” Karapatan said.

“The government’s denial of the franchise will result to more than 11,000 families without income in the middle of the pandemic,” Naguit said.

Members of Akbayan Youth held a protest rally with ABS-CBN workers, artists, and other groups outside the House of Representatives during last Friday’s hearing. 

Fisherfolk group Pamalakaya lit a candle with ABS-CBN tri-colors in front of a television displaying static white noise to signify a dead air.

Pamalakaya said this was their way of protest against the non-renewal of ABS-CBN franchise, which the group claimed was a “plan and simple dictatorship and attack on press freedom.”

The progressive groups called for the public to remain vigilant following the rejection of the media network’s franchise.

“Undoubtedly, now is the time to be more vigilant than ever. To prioritize the shutting down of the network is a slap in the face of the Filipinos who are currently suffering the consequences of the administration’s inadequate responses to the pandemic,” Naguit said.

“We cannot let this continue. We should continue to resist. We should continue to fight back,” Karapatan said.