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Palace on looming ABS-CBN job cuts: Sad, but network needs a franchise to operate

Having thousands of ABS-CBN employees at risk of losing their jobs due to the shutdown of the company’s broadcast operations is a sad development, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Malacañang admitted on Thursday.

However, the Palace insisted, the company needs a franchise to operate.

“Malungkot po talaga iyan, pero malinaw po ang Saligang Batas kasi—hindi naman ang Presidente iyong pupuwedeng mag-rewrite ng Saligang Batas—hindi po pupuwedeng magnegosyo ang broadcast companies na wala pong congressional franchise,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a televised briefing.

Congress is currently deliberating on the bill seeking to renew the broadcast giant’s franchise for another 25 years even as ABS-CBN said it may implement job cuts starting next month if the company fails to go back on air soon.

“Sana po ay tingnan po natin kung  ano ang magiging desisyon ng Kongreso, pero hindi po natin sila pupuwedeng panghimasukan,  bagama’t sigurado po ako na iko-consider din ng mga congressmen at ng senador iyong kapakanan na mawawalan ng mga trabaho,” Roque said.

ABS-CBN has been reportedly losing up to P35 million in advertising revenues a day since the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) issued an order on May 5 to stop its broadcast operations after the company’s franchise expired on May 4.

The NTC also directed ABS-CBN this week to stop digital TV transmission using Channel 43 and its subsidiary Sky Cable Corporation to stop its direct broadcast services due to a lack of congressional franchise.

"Hindi naman po automatic na mawawalan sila ng trabaho, dahil hindi po automatic na palibhasa wala silang prangkisa ay wala na rin silang trabaho,” Roque said.

“Ang ABS-CBN naman po nagpapatuloy pa rin ng broadcast, lalung-lalo na sa digital platform.”

Roque earlier said that President Rodrigo Duterte is neutral on the franchise issue despite the chief executive’s past grievances against the broadcasting company, particularly on the unaired campaign advertisements in 2016. — BM, GMA News

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