Philippines: One year since the forced closure of 53 regional ABS-CBN stations

On August 28, journalists in the Philippines commemorated one year since ABS-CBN was forced to close 53 regional radio and television stations. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), urge the Philippine government to bring back ABS-CBN.

ABS-CBN commemoration event poster. Credit: National Union of Journalists of the Philippines / Facebook

On July 10, 2020, the Philippine House Committee on Legislative Franchises, responsible for granting and renewing broadcasting network’s franchises, voted to deny ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal. As a result, ABS-CBN began shutting down operations that required a legislative franchise on August 28, 2020, retrenching 11,000 media workers and closing 53 regional ABS-CBN stations that broadcast in six languages.

Media workers marked August 28, lighting candles and holding a social media protest using the hashtag #IbalikAngABSCBN (#BringBackABSCBN).

The NUJP said: “While it is true that the network and some of its programming are still available online, the loss of regional stations hampers the flow of information to and from areas outside the capital.”

In some cases, this may mean fewer eyes and voices to act as a check on government. In others, this could mean the loss of access to information on typhoons and disaster preparations … It also means thousands of our colleagues who have lost their jobs or have had to make do with lower pay”, NUJP added. 

The IFJ said: “The closure of regional ABS-CBN stations and the rejection of ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal last year was a devastating blow to press freedom and labour rights in the Philippines. Politicians should not have the ability to regulate which media organisations are allowed to broadcast or render thousands of media workers jobless. The IFJ stands in solidarity with former and current ABS-CBN employees and calls on the Philippine government to grant ABS-CBN a legislative franchise license.”

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on [email protected]

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

Twitter: @ifjasiapacific, on Facebook: IFJAsiaPacific and Instagram