July 12, 2020 / 1:20 PM / a month ago

Majority of Filipinos support license renewal for embattled ABS-CBN: poll

A journalist lights a candle outside the ABS-CBN headquarters, following Philippine congress' vote against the broadcast network's franchise renewal, in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines, July 10, 2020. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez

MANILA (Reuters) - Three out of four Filipinos wanted Philippine lawmakers to renew a 25-year license for the country’s top broadcaster, a survey by a private pollster showed late on Saturday, a day after Congress rejected ABS-CBN Corp’s bid to have it renewed.

Critics saw the rejection as part of a political vendetta by President Rodrigo Duterte’s allies in Congress after the media conglomerate angered him for its failure to air some of his paid 2016 election campaign commercials. The network has apologised.

A legislative committee overwhelmingly agreed with a working group’s assessment that ABS-CBN, which employs 11,000 people and has an audience of tens of millions of Filipinos, was “undeserving of the grant of legislative franchise”.

In a July 3-6 nationwide mobile phone survey, private pollster Social Weather Stations (SWS) found that 75% of adult Filipinos had agreed that “Congress should renew the franchise so that ABS-CBN can broadcast its programs again”.

Of those surveyed, 10% were undecided while 13% disagreed, SWS said in a statement.

The survey also found 56% agreed that the non-renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise was “a major blow to press freedom”, SWS said.

The government “lost a media partner in information dissemination”, Duterte’s spokesman Harry Roque said in a statement on Sunday when asked for comment on the survey.

However, he reiterated that the granting of the broadcasting franchise remained the exclusive prerogative of Congress.

Reporting by Enrico Dela Cruz; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise

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