Philippines: NTC stops ABS-CBN’s digital broadcast

The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) on June 30 ordered the independent ABS-CBN broadcaster to stop its digital broadcast on TVPlus in Metro Manila and satellite TV service SKY. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) backs its affiliate the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) in regretting the deliberate efforts to silence the media and urges authorities to allow ABS-CBN back on air.

Employees of ABS-CBN work in the editing booth at the station headquarters in Manila on May 6, 2020. Credit: Ted Aljibe/AFP

NTC issued the cease and desist order for ABS-CBN to stop operating TVPlus in Metro Manila which aired using Channel 43. The order also affected the company’s pay-per-view channel KBO.

ABS-CBN’s  franchise of ABS-CBN expired on May 4 and the the broadcaster was forced off air on May 5 after NTC issued a cease and desist order against the company. ABS-CBN then resumed a selection of popular shows on TVPlus via Amcara Broadcasting Corp's Channel 43.In a separate cease-and-desist order, NTC also ordered ABS-CBN to stop the SkyDirect, the nationwide satellite TV service, which has 1.5 million subscribers, including the viewers in remote areas without television signals.

The two cease and desist orders came after the Office of Solicitor General gave advice to the NTC to stop ABS-CBN TV Plus and Channel 43 since the operations were related to the franchise of ABS-CBN. Solicitor General Jose Calida has expressed his discontent with resourcefulness of ABS-CBN as they continued to broadcast on different platforms. Calida filed a petition to the Supreme Court to revoke the ABS-CBN license and also warned (NTC) against allowing the ABS-CBN television network to operate while the company’s franchise is pending approval in Congress. Not only that, congressmen also threatened to file a graft and corruption case against NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba for allowing ABS-CBN to continue broadcasting through digital box TV Plus.

NUJP said: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.”

IFJ said:“Various efforts to silence independent broadcaster ABS-CBN orchestrated by the government must be challenged. IFJ urges authorities to immediately allow ABS-CBN to broadcast programs to serve the public’s rights for access to information.”

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

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

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