How foreign media are covering ABS-CBN's shutdown

As Filipinos watched ABS-CBN go off-air on Tuesday, May 5, news groups worldwide reported on the media giant's closure amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) ordered ABS-CBN to halt television and radio broadcasting operations because their congressional franchise expired on May 4.

Congress was not able to act on the renewal of the franchise, which was granted by Republic Act No. 7966 in March 1995. However, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said on May 4 that the network can continue to operate pending deliberations on its franchise renewal. (TIMELINE: Duterte against ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal)

On February 26, the House committee on legislative franchises urged the NTC to grant provisional authority to ABS-CBN Corporation and its subsidiaries so they could continue to operate pending its franchise renewal.

In their reports, newsrooms abroad highlighted that ABS-CBN is the biggest broadcaster in the Philippines:

Others emphasized that the shutdown was ordered amid the Luzon-wide lockdown or extended community quarantine (ECQ) that was implemented in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic:

Others pointed out that President Rodrigo Duterte was unhappy with the network. These were the titles of the corresponding news organizations:

President Rodrigo Duterte himself had repeatedly said that the network's franchise would not be renewed. He had previously accused ABS-CBN of "swindling" him when it failed to air his political ads during the presidential elections in 2016.

At a Senate hearing on February 24, ABS-CBN CEO Karlo Katigbak apologized to the President and explained that they aired all of the national ads that he paid for. ABS-CBN was not able to air all of his local ads, because local ads have a shorter airtime allocation. Katigbak said that they had already refunded P4 million, but the remaining P2.6 million was delayed.

Two days later, Duterte said he accepted the media giant's apology, but insisted that the matter of their franchise renewal was out of his hands.

The shutdown on May 5 has been met with criticism, with rights groups, media workers, labor groups, and lawmakers denouncing the move as a threat to media freedom and an abuse of power. –