Nearly 1K artists, workers urge Congress to renew franchise of ABS-CBN

Malou Maniquis of Concerned Artists of the Philippines and LODI, reads the position paper signed by nearly 1,000 artists and workers calling on Congress to renew the franchise of TV and radio giant ABS-CBN during the Black Friday protest at the Commission on Human Rights, June 14. (Photo by John Aaron Mark Macaraeg / Bulatlat)

The petitioners called on legislators to “consider the greater good while upholding the right of media/art organizations to decide the path it should take as part of its constitutional right to freedom of speech, of expression and of the press.”

By RONALYN V. OLEA
Bulatlat.com

MANILA — Almost a thousand artists, writers, music composers, cinematographers, lighting directors, production designers, art directors, producers, staff and crew from the television and film industry, signed a petition urging the House of Representatives to renew the franchise of television giant ABS-CBN.

The 17th Congress recently adjourned without passing the House Bill No. 4349, which seeks to renew the radio-television network’s franchise for another 25 years. The franchise shall expire by March 2020.

The petitioners called on legislators to “consider the greater good while upholding the right of media/art organizations to decide the path it should take as part of its constitutional right to freedom of speech, of expression and of the press.”

Among those who signed were Piolo Pascual, Coco Martin, Lea Salonga, Pinky Amador, Jaime Fabregas, John Arcilla, Butuin Escalante, Angel Aquino and other TV personalities.

Ricky Lee, Rody Vera, Lav Diaz, Joel Lamangan and Mae Paner were also among those who signed.

President Rodrigo Duterte has been criticising ABS-CBN for its reportage and for failure to air a paid ad during his campaign for presidency in 2016. In December 2017, the President publicly said that a compromise may be reached if the station will support charter change towards federalism.

The petitioners said the issue regarding the TV ad should have been resolved legally without affecting the entire organization.

“Losing one of just a few national Mass Media Organizations (TV/Radio) that we have will impact on the very reason why information and communication is vital to the building of a great nation. It will deprive people of choices, of another source of FREE access to information, knowledge and entertainment,” the petition read.

The signatories pointed out that many Filipinos still do not have access to the web or have the budget to spend hours browsing in an internet shop and television and radio are their only means to connect with the rest of the nation and the world.

The petitioners said the non-renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise will have implications on their very source of livelihood and will affect their families.

In a statement released Friday, Commission on Human Rights Spokesperson Jacqueline De Guia expressed concern with the non-renewal of the network’s franchise.

“Non-renewal can be tantamount to shutting down the network. If an entire media giant would be toppled down due to a political caprice, it could signal the beginning of a bleaker state of press freedom in the country and a catapult to the wave of previous assaults to media,” de Guia said.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), Altermidya and Let’s Organize for Democracy and Intergrity (LODI) Arts and Media Alliance held a Black Friday protest last Friday calling on the Duterte administration to stop harassing ABS-CBN and to demand justice for veteran journalist Margarita Valle, who was abducted and held incommunicado for 12 hours.

De Guia, in a statement, noted that the police did not follow due process in the arrest of Valle.

“There are no excuses to circumvent the standards enumerated by the bill of rights especially by those duty-bound to uphold it,” De Guia said. (http://bulatlat.com)

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