Philippines orders top broadcaster ABS-CBN to cease operations immediately

Elias Hubbard
May 6, 2020

The commission had agreed to temporarily allow ABS-CBN to continue operating while the application is being reviewed.

"We trust that the government will decide on our franchise with the best interest of the Filipino people in mind, recognising ABS-CBN's role and efforts in providing the latest news and information during these challenging times", the channel said in a statement.

Media watchdogs accused Duterte and his government of muzzling independent media like ABS-CBN that have reported critically on issues including the president's anti-drug crackdown, which has left thousands of mostly poor suspects dead. He has been expressing his displeasure over their news coverage critical of his government.

"The order to shut ABS-CBN effectively unplugs one of the Philippines most trusted, independent sources of news", said Shawn Crispin, a Bangkok-based representative for the Committee to Protect Journalists.

The country's National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) in a statement to the daily Phil Star ordered the ABS-CBN Corporation to "cease and desist" operations after a 25-year franchise to operate expired on May 4, 2020.

"Ordering ABS-CBN to stop its operations is an outrageous attack on media freedom".

The agency's top officials had previously agreed to grant the broadcaster a temporary operating licence while the application was pending, due to a need for information during the pandemic.

ABS-CBN's web portals, including sports.abs-cbn.com, will also remain online.

President Duterte has been engaged in a long-running feud with ABS-CBN, after the channel angered him during the 2016 presidential election by refusing to broadcast his campaign ads.

The NTC has no choice but to follow the law, he said, adding the fate of ABS-CBN's 11,000 workers was considered in the decision. It is the Philippines' largest entertainment and media company in terms of revenue, income, assets and number of employees. The network is known for airing news critical of his government. ABS-CBN denied the allegations.

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Other reports by Click Lancashire

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