Senate approves CBCP’s broadcasting franchise

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By Camille A. Aguinaldo, Reporter

THE Senate on Wednesday approved on third and final reading the bill extending for another 25 years the broadcasting franchise of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).

House Bill No. 8155 was approved with 19 affirmative votes, zero negative vote, and no abstention. It was sponsored in the Senate plenary by Senator Grace S. Poe-Llamanzares, chair of the Senate committee on public services.

The bill seeks to amend Republic Act No. 7530, which extended the CBCP’s franchise for 25 years back in 1992. It was originally granted a franchise under Republic Act No. 5172 in 1967.

The measure allows the CBCP to operate “radio and/or television broadcasting stations in the Philippines.” The religious organization operates radio stations across the country through its Catholic Media Network arm.

The proposed bill provides that the franchise may be revoked if CBCP fails to operate continuously for two years. The Senate also added an amendment which requires the organization to inform Congress of any changes of ownership or controlling interests, failure of which to do so would lead to an “ipso facto” franchise revocation.

Other terms under its franchise was for the CBCP not to use its stations or facilities for “obscene or indecent transmission, or for the dissemination of deliberately false information or willful misrepresentation, or assist in subversive or treasonable acts.”

The CBCP is also directed to create employment opportunities and on-the-job trainings in their franchise operations.

An annual report of compliance with the terms and conditions of the franchise must also be submitted to Congress. The report is among the requirements before any application for permit or certification from the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC).