Philippines: House committee denies ABS-CBN franchise renewal

The Philippines House of Representatives committee voted to deny the renewal of ABS-CBN’s broadcasting franchise. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) caution the Philippines Congress against setting a dangerous precedent for democracy and press freedom.

Person looks at their phone the night ABS-CBN was taken off the air on May 5, 2020. Credit: Maria Tan / AFP

The vote on July 10 followed the legislative franchise committee’s 12 public hearings from May 26 until July 9 determining the network did not breach any legal provisions. On July 10, the committee in the House of Representatives voted 70 to deny the franchise renewal, 11 to renew, with two to inhibit and one to abstain.

The voting reflects the threats from Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte who has accused the network of unfair reporting and repeatedly stated he would see an end to the ABS-CBN franchise. Despite the rejection, ABS-CBN can still appeal the panel’s decision or apply for reconsideration of the franchise.

 

In its statement NUJP said the House of Representatives of the 18th Congress of the Philippines has declared itself an enemy of democracy. NUJP added that Congress not only stripped more than 11,000 of their jobs, “millions of Filipinos have been deprived of their right to know and their right to choose how to access the information.” 

NUJP said: “But let us not mark July 10, 2020 as a day of defeat and mourning. Let us prove that it is not the ‘will of Congress’ but the will of the people that ultimately prevails.

The IFJ said: “The IFJ is dismayed by the House committee’s refusal to renew ABS-CBN’s franchise on the whims the Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte. The IFJ stands in solidarity with ABS-CBN employees, media workers and advocates around the world who will continue fighting for ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal, urging the Philippines government to ensure the prompt renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise.”

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on ifj@ifj-asia.org

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

Twitter: @ifjasiapacific, on Facebook: IFJAsiaPacific and Instagram