IBC-13's franchise renewal bill hurdles House

The legislative franchise renewal application of state-run IBC-13 has been unanimously passed on third and final reading by the House of Representatives.

IBC-13 logo (Wikipedia)

Gaining the chamber's final approval after nominal voting during plenary session Tuesday, Jan. 31 was House Bill (HB) No. 6505, which seeks to renew the franchise granted to IBC-13 under Republic Act (RA) No. 8954, authorizing it “to construct, install, establish, operate and maintain for commercial purposes and in the public interest, radio and television broadcasting stations in the Philippines".

IBC-13’s franchise is set to in September 2025 under RA No. 8954. But if HB No.6505 will get enacted, then the government-run network will continue its commercial radio and television broadcasting operations in the country for another 25 years, or up to 2050.

Deputy Speaker and Batangas 6th district Rep. Ralph Recto, who presided over the plenary session, declared HB No.6505's passage on third reading. The nominal vote results were as follows: 272 "yes" votes, zero "no" votes, and zero abstentions.

Authors of the bill include Reps. Joey Sarte Salceda (2nd district, Albay), Gus Tambunting (2nd district, Parañaque City), Shernee Tan-Tambut (KUSUG TAUSUG Party-list), Kristine Singson-Meehan (2nd district, Ilocos Sur), Noel “Bong” Rivera (3rd district, Tarlac), and House Majority Leader Manuel Jose “Mannix” Dalipe (2nd district, Zambonga City).

IBC-13, which began a state agency in 1986, has five provincial televesion stations, four relay stations, and 11 provincial radio stations.

“The role of broadcasting organization in serving the needs of the public and clients in information, education and entertainment for the Filipino viewers should be given the utmost recognition since the services they perform to all classes of viewers, in general, is beyond qualification,” said the authors of HB No.6505.

The bill allows IBC-13 the use of “digital television system, through microwave, satellite or whatever means, as well as the use of any new technology in radio and television systems, with the corresponding technological auxiliaries and facilities, special broadcast and other program and distribution services and relay stations".

Under the measure, IBC-13 is mandated to construct and operate its stations with minimum interference on the wavelengths or frequencies of existing or future stations without diminishing the quality of its own transmission or reception to ensure maximum rendition and availability of its services.

IBC-13 is required to secure from the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) the appropriate permits and licenses for the construction and operation of its facilities. The NTC may recommend to Congress the revocation of IBC-13’s franchise for violations of its provisions.

Among others, IBC-13 is mandated to provide, free of charge, adequate public service time to enable the government to reach the pertinent population to relay announcements on important public issues, or warnings concerning public emergencies and calamities.

Such public service time shall be equivalent to a maximum aggregate of 10 percent of paid commercials or advertisements, allocated based on need to the executive and legislative branches, the judiciary, constitutional commissions, and international humanitarian organizations duly recognized by statutes.

In times of war, rebellion, public peril, calamity, emergency, disaster, or disturbance of peace and order, the President may temporarily take over and operate its stations or facilities or authorize any government agency to temporarily use the same upon due compensation.

Pursuant to RA No. 8370, otherwise known as the “Children’s Television Act of 1997”, IBC-13 shall also allot a minimum of 15 percent of the daily total air time of each broadcasting network or station to child-friendly shows within its regular programming.