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ABS-CBN may operate until June 2022, unless Congress terminates it, says House leader

Broadcasting network ABS-CBN may continue to operate until June 30, 2022, despite the expiration of its franchise on March this year, according to a leader of the House of Representatives.

Isabela Representative Tonypet Albano, vice chairman of the legislative franchise committee, said that the network will remain on air because there are pending bills for the extension of its legislative franchise, which have not yet been discussed by the House.

The 11 bills seeking for the renewal of the ABS-CBN franchise for another 25 years remain pending at the committee since they were filed in August 2019.

“We want to allay the fears of the public and the [ABS-CBN] employees, ABS-CBN will not cease to exist unless Congress acts on it. ABS-CBN may actually continue to legally operate under its existing franchise until the end of 18th Congress or until that franchise is formally terminated [by Congress before 18th Congress ends]. ” Albano said in a press conference.

“We are not delaying it. We have enough time. We are proceeding steadily but cautiously, given the highly-charged atmosphere,” Albano added.

The 18th Congress ends on June 2022.

Albano said that the ABS-CBN can also seek provisional authority before the National Telecommunications Commission as a remedy.

“There is a provisional authority that can be secured from NTC, since ABS-CBN is using public airwaves,” Albano said.

ABS-CBN’s franchise expires on March 30.

On Monday, Solicitor General Jose Calida filed a quo warranto petition seeking to revoke its ranchise due to alleged foreign ownership and bypassing of authority of the NTC.

The ABS-CBN has maintained that it has not violated any law.

Albano insisted the House is not sitting on bills seeking the network's franchise renewal.

“We are not delaying it. We are working on it, it is just that you don’t see it,” Albano said, referring to supposed closed-door meetings held by the members of the committee. —LDF, GMA News