IBC franchise bill hurdles House 2nd reading

The House of Representatives on Wednesday approved on second reading House Bill 5404, or a 25-year renewal of the legislative franchise of the Intercontinental Broadcasting Corp. (IBC), a state-owned television network under the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO).

The bill will extend the IBC franchise validity to 2050.

Its existing franchise under Republic Act 8954 granted IBC a franchise to operate until September 2025.

The third and final reading approval of the bill is expected next week.

“Once we extend their franchise, they will be authorized to operate until 2050. I hope their franchise extension gets enacted this Congress, so that we no longer have to rush it in the next Congress,” Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda, author of the bill, said.

Salceda said the approval of the franchise of the state broadcaster “creates value of some P5 billion in government assets.”

“Without a franchise, IBC would have been forced to wind down. Whatever assets it has left will be sold to pay its liabilities, since it’s in negative equity position. The franchise creates a premium for valuing the IBC, should we ever decide to privatize the broadcaster,” Salceda said.

“However, there are alternatives to privatization. And in fact, even if we privatize it, we could probably still have a public broadcasting function included in the deal.”

Following the approval, Salceda said he envisions a stronger role for an expanded IBC in disaster preparedness and participative governance, “given its design as a corporation without a profit motive.”

“I envision IBC TV and state media in general to play a more significant role in disaster preparedness. As being close to the organs of government, the station is uniquely positioned to be the first source of government announcements, requests, and instructions,” he said.

“That unique position is most crucial during a disaster. That’s why I think programming has to be geared towards disaster announcements. The airing of the Laging Handa briefings in the network is a prime example of what can be sustained as it repurposes.”

The network was also tapped to air educational programs to aid remote learning during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The IBC has a missionary role, and its potential to fulfill that role effectively was demonstrated during the pandemic.”

IBC as “tanungan at sumbungan ng bayan” Salceda added that the IBC can serve as an avenue for the public to air out their concerns on pressing or relevant issues and directly interact with concerned officials.

“I strongly suggest that the IBC also air programs where members of the public can pose questions to government officials, on everything from how to pay taxes as a small business, to how to avail of medical assistance programs of the government,” he said.

“In this role, the IBC can be a ‘tanungan at sumbungan’ for the public. We could even create programs in line with the thrusts of Hotline 8888 or the Presidential Complaint Center. We can have programs where members of the public can call in to express their concerns, and have them addressed by their officials.”

Image credits: www.ibctv13.com



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