The Philippines National Telecommunications Commission issued a “cease and desist” order on May 5 to ABS-CBN, a day after the franchise expired on May 4. The order comes after months of protest by media workers and the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines urging the Philippines government to renew the franchise of ABS-CBN, stressing the 11,000 jobs at risk by ABS-CBN’s potential closure.
While the House of Representatives in the Philippines acknowledged the urgency of renewing the franchise for ABS-CBN to continue operations, Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte and his administration have ensured the delay of the franchise's renewal.
The signatories to the IFJ-IFEX letter “stand in solidarity with them in resisting all attempts to curtail press freedom in the Philippines and repress its people’s free expression and call for the following:
- For the National Telecommunications Commission to withdraw the cease and desist order against ABS-CBN, which remains a disservice to the Filipino people, especially at this time of crisis;
- For the Supreme Court to uphold press freedom and to urgently grant the temporary restraining order for the ABS-CBN units to go back on air to continue serving the public amid the coronavirus pandemic;
- For the House of Representative to grant ABS-CBN a fresh 25-year franchise. Eleven bills seeking its renewal are now pending and are waiting to be heard.”
The IFJ said: “The closure of ABS-CBN restricts access to information for people around the world, at a time during the Covid-19 pandemic when information can mean life or death. The IFJ demands the National Telecommunications Commission, the Supreme Court and the House of Representatives in the Philippines to allow ABS-CBN to continue operations uninterrupted and ensure the prompt renewal of the ABS-CBN franchise.”
Read the letter and list of signatories here.