Corporate News

Duterte nixes ABS-CBN franchise renewal

Posted on April 28, 2017

PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte on Thursday said he will block the renewal of the franchise of media and entertainment giant ABS-CBN Corp. for allegedly swindling him.

In a media briefing at Malacañang on Thursday, Mr. Duterte accused the network of failing to air his political advertisements during the election campaign last year, even though these were already paid for.

Akala mo itong ABS ang franchise will be due pero di na kailangan ng extension because it has been there for about 25 years. Sabi ng batas OK na only if you adhere to journalistic [standards]. Pero ang ginagawa ninyo sa amin -- estafa, swindling, not only me but Chiz Escudero,” he said, referring to vice-presidential candidate and Senator Francis G. Escudero.

“So I will file a complaint. Congress, no need to renew it,” Mr. Duterte said. “If you operate, ABS-CBN, tapos manloloko lang kayo ng tao, mag-swindling kayo, I have to stop you.”

ABS-CBN’s franchise expires in 2020. House Bill no. 4349, which proposes to extend the media giant’s franchise by another 25 years, was filed last Nov. 10, 2016 and is currently pending before the House Committee on Legislative Franchises.

Mr. Duterte’s statement comes after he signed on April 21 the law renewing rival GMA Network Inc.’s franchise for another 25 years.

ABS-CBN Integrated Corporate Communications head Kane Errol Choa declined to comment on Mr. Duterte’s recent attack against the network, saying a statement will be issued.

This is not the first time that Mr. Duterte lashed out at ABS-CBN for being critical of his 10-month-old administration.

On March 30, Mr. Duterte launched an expletive-laden tirade against ABS-CBN and the Philippine Daily Inquirer for their alleged “biased” reporting. He said the two media organizations were “unfair” in their coverage of his administration.

ABS-CBN Chairman Eugenio L. Lopez III had earlier this month sought to allay fears that the President’s remarks against the company could affect its application for renewal of its franchise.

“I don’t anticipate any significant issues. Definitely, there’s some political noise, but we don’t anticipate this will undergo any significant problems,” Mr. Lopez said during ABS-CBN’s annual stockholders’ meeting on April 6.

ABS-CBN recorded a P3.5-billion net income in 2016, up 39% from the P2.5 billion seen in 2015 as election-related advertising drove revenues higher.

Shares in ABS-CBN dipped 0.33% or 15 centavos to close at P45.85 apiece on Thursday. -- Ian Nicolas P. Cigaral