MANILA - An independent online news network in the Bicol region urged lawmakers to renew the franchise of ABS-CBN Corporation.
In a statement released Sunday, Bicol Today cited the need for information dissemination, urgent news and knowledge transfer, especially during a pandemic, in urging the House of Representatives to grant the network a fresh franchise.
"To get informed at the right moment is very crucial at this time of global pandemic, when economic recession worldwide is anticipated, the COVID-19 threat may decimate a sizable portion of the global population, and civil unrest, emergence of war, and additional threats of infectious diseases," the Bicol Today editorial board said.
"The global crisis is affecting our country and the Filipino people. We need ABS-CBN, an effective and efficient media organization, to open again with a renewal of franchise, so that it will join hands with other media organizations, private or government-owned," it added.
Aside from news and information, Bicol Today also said people have the privilege to be entertained through TV shows.
"These shows might be illusory and palliatives for them to enjoy and forget, for the time being, the harsh realities of grinding poverty and economic woes Filipinos are currently suffering now, at this time of pandemic and the worsening economic situation," it said.
For Bicol Today, refusing to grant ABS-CBN a franchise is an issue of press freedom.
"We, the editorial board of Bicol Today, uphold freedom of the press, and by this freedom, a free press has provided all sectors adequate media space," it said.
"The free press has provided dissenters to air grievances and criticism, and critics the freedom to air their protests. Politics, economic managers, public executives, and the government have benefited so much in the free press. Important developments and situations leading to economic growth enjoy much media space," it added.
Lawmakers are set to tackle Monday the alleged biased reporting of ABS-CBN, the last issue surrounding its franchise.
The network, which has some 11,000 workers including those from its subsidiaries, has asked the Supreme Court to issue a temporary restraining order against the NTC's shutdown order. The high court will tackle the pleading on July 13.
The SC earlier dismissed the Office of the Solicitor General's quo warranto petition questioning ABS-CBN Corp's previous franchise, for being "moot and academic." The network's last franchise expired on May 4.
news.abs-cbn.com is the official news website of ABS-CBN Corp.