MANILA, Philippines – “This must not go unchallenged.”
The message of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) was clear and emphatic as it condemned the cease and desist orders stopping ABS-CBN’s digital broadcast on TV Plus in Metro Manila and Sky Cable’s satellite broadcast nationwide.
The National Telecommunication Commission (NTC) issued the 2 cease and desist orders on Tuesday, June 30. The government regulatory agenct ordered ABS-CBN to stop broadcasting in Metro Manila using Channel 43 and halt Sky Cable Corporation’s direct broadcast satellite service.
The orders came a day after the Office of the Solicitor General advised the commission to close down ABS-CBN TV Plus and Channel 43 because of the network’s expired franchise.
The move is the latest in a series of attacks against ABS-CBN. The embattled media network was ordered to stop operations last May 5 after legislators blocked its franchise renewal.
In a statement, the NUJP described the new cease and desist orders as the “logical next step in the determined effort of this administration and its minions to silence the network in compliance with the wishes of President Rodrigo Duterte.”
Far from being neutral, the President has long been making repeated threats to block ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal throughout his term.
According to ABS-CBN CEO Carlo Katigbak, the shutdown of ABS-CBN’s digital broadcast on TV Plus in Metro Manila and Sky Cable’s satellite broadcast nationwide could affect an estimated 11 million homes.
NUJP pointed out how this could effectively deprive Filipinos of their right to know and choose how they’ll access their news, information and entertainment, especially at a critical time when the country is in the throes of a pandemic.
“It is clear that the end goal of this administration is not only to shut down ABS-CBN but to send a message throughout the media industry that other news organizations may face the same fate unless they surrender their watchdog role, the critical and independent reportage that is an essential part of the media’s mission,” said NUJP.
Asserting the need to speak up and close ranks, NUJP called on news organizations and other journalists to come together and demand government to “stop this persecution of ABS-CBN and allow it back on air in the name of freedom of the press and people’s right to know.”
They also urged advocates and Filipinos to raise their voices and refuse to stand idly by in the face of attacks to rights and liberties. – Rappler.com
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