A BILL seeking to renew the franchise of ABS-CBN Corp. for another 25 years has been re-filed at the Senate.

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph G. Recto filed Senate Bill No. 981, as the media giant’s franchise is set to expire by end-March 2020.

In the bill’s explanatory note, Mr. Recto described ABS-CBN as the country’s “largest entertainment and media conglomerate in terms of revenue, operating income, net income, assets, equity, market capitalization, and number of employees.”

“Despite the growing popularity of social media, television still remains as a preferred mass medium in our provinces and other far-flung areas,” he said.

“ABS-CBN has remained steadfast in its commitment to reach out to as many Filipinos as possible by delivering their quality core programs closer to our countrymen by taking advantage of emerging broadcast technologies,” he added.

Nueva Ecija Rep. Micaela S. Violago last month filed a similar bill at the House of Representatives.

To recall, President Rodrigo R. Duterte has repeatedly expressed his opposition to the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise.

But Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo previously said it is up to Congress to decide on the fate of ABS-CBN, not Mr. Duterte.

ABS-CBN reported its attributable net income grew by 89.2% to P856.35 million in the first quarter of 2019, driven by a 24.4% increase in advertising revenues at P5.4 billion.

Meanwhile, a bill was also filed at the House renewing the franchise of ABS-CBN’s telecommunication unit ABS-CBN Convergence, Inc. for another 25 years.

The Lopez-led media giant is focusing on boosting its digital business this year, as it faces the possibility that its legislative franchise would not be renewed. — Vince Angelo C. Ferreras