On May 5, the Philippines’ leading broadcast network went dark under the orders of the government. The shutdown of the free TV and radio network sent a shock through the country as it was a primary source of news during the coronavirus pandemic for many
“This is in compliance with the cease and desist order issued by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) today that prohibits ABS-CBN from continuing its broadcast operations effective immediately,” the company, said in a statement given to media.
The statement continued, “Millions of Filipinos will lose their source of news and entertainment … when people need crucial and timely information as the nation deals with the COVID-19 pandemic.”
ABS-CBN Corp. employs over 11,000 people and has been operating as a 25-year congressional franchise. The network has been critical of Duterete’s controversial war on drugs. Many media groups have accused him of silencing media like ABS-CBN because of his anti-drug crackdown. On top of that, the relationship between the Filipino president and ABS-CBN has been proven to be tense all the way back to 2016 when he accused them of not running his campaign ads. Government officials have denied that the shutdown was a press freedom issue.
The shutdown of ABS-CBN comes after their renewal had been pending in Congress, which is controlled by Duterte allies. The hearings have been delayed due to the pandemic.
In addition to ABS-CBN, the country’s leading newspaper Philippine Daily Inquirer and the online news organization Rappler have been attacked for being critical of Duterte.
In the wake of the shutdown, the media corporation took to their social media platforms to let their audience know that they will continue to provide news. “Even though ABS-CBN broadcast operations have been stopped by TV and radio stations across the country, our service and news continues on our cable channels and online platforms,” they said on Facebook.