Solon to ABS-CBN: Grant of franchise ‘privilege, not a right’

Solon to ABS-CBN: Grant of franchise ‘privilege, not a right’

MANILA – The chairman of the House Committee on Legislative Franchises on Thursday reminded broadcast network ABS-CBN that the grant of congressional franchise is “not a right, but a privilege.”

Palawan Rep. Franz Alvarez made this remark as he assured that his panel would be fair and objective in reviewing the ABS-CBN’s application for its franchise renewal.

“The advice of Speaker Alan (Peter Cayetano) to us was to make sure that we would be always fair and impartial in reviewing the application of ABS-CBN, or the application of any other public utility, for that matter. At the same time, it is Congress’ duty to accept complaints and hear issue brought up in any contain or objection,” Alvarez said.

“But we should all be reminded that under the law, the grant of a franchise is not a right, but a privilege. This is why we have to hear all sides, and find out if ABS-CBN violated the provisions of its franchise,” he added.

Unless the Congress grants its renewal, ABS-CBN’s franchise is set to expire on Mar. 30, 2020.

Radio and television broadcast firms in the country are required to seek a franchise from Congress, pursuant to Republic Act 3846.

Alvarez said the constitutional right to press freedom is a separate concern that does not apply in the case of the network’s application for its franchise renewal.

“The issue involves the franchise renewal of ABS-CBN. There is no attempt to muzzle or control the media here so do not try to make this a press freedom issue when it is not,” Alvarez said.

Alvarez said the committee would determine if the broadcast giant violated provisions of its franchise.

He cited the Supreme Court in the case of Radio Communications Philippines Inc. v. National Telecommunications Commission wherein it was stated that the grant of a franchise is “merely a privilege emanating from the sovereign power of the state and owing its existence to a grant, is subject to regulation by the state itself by virtue of its police power through its administrative agencies.”  Filane Mikee Cervantes /PNA –