Philippines: Solicitor general warns against granting provisional authority to ABS-CBN

Solicitor general Jose Calida warned the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) against allowing the ABS-CBN television network to operate while the company’s franchise is pending approval in Congress. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) express dismay at the warning and call on authorities to grant the franchise to the broadcasting company.

A man attends a protest in support of broadcaster ABS-CBN in Manila on February 10, 2020. Credit: Ted Aljibe/AFP

The Philippine’s largest television network, ABS-CBN’s franchise expires yesterday on May 4 after months of delays in the Senate attempting to approve the franchise. On World Press Freedom Day, May 3, Jose Calida threatened to prosecute NTC commissioners if they approve the provisional authority, stating only Congress could grant a franchise to ABS-CBN, despite the senate resolution and a letter from the house committee urging NTC to grant the provisional authority until Congress has made the final decision on the franchise renewal. 

Previously on February 10, 2020 Calida expressed his discontent with ABS-CBN when he filed a petition to the Supreme Court to revoke the ABS-CBN license. Calida claimed ABS-CBN was “unlawfully exercising their legislative franchises” and accused it of “highly abusive practices”. 

NUJP said: “It would do no good to the Filipino people if the country’s biggest media corporation, one that is relied upon by a great number of the people during this pandemic for news, entertainment and relief delivery, if it ceases operations tomorrow.

IFJ said: “The failure to renew ABS-CBN will have profound impacts beyond press freedom, resulting in the potential termination of thousands of media workers. The IFJ condemns Jose Calida’s statement and urges authorities to grant the franchise a provisional authority hastily.” 

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

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

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