The Philippines’ telecoms agency on Tuesday ordered the closure of ABS-CBN, the country’s biggest broadcaster, in a move described by campaigners as an attack on the free press at a time when the nation needed impartial reporting to battle the coronavirus outbreak.
The station’s 25-year broadcasting franchise expired on May 4, but the Philippine Congress had asked for the station to continue operating provisionally while it debated whether to renew it.
“Millions of Filipinos will lose their source of news and entertainment when ABS-CBN is ordered to go off-air on TV and radio tonight . . . when people need crucial and timely information as the nation deals with the Covid-19 pandemic,” the station said in a statement.
The move to close ABS-CBN comes at the same time that President Rodrigo Duterte was showing signs of reconciling with two other companies with whom he had feuded. However, press freedom has continued to decline under Duterte.
According to Reporters Without Borders, the Philippines is “Holding the line against Duterte’s attacks.” They further report that “Three Philippine journalists were killed in 2019, probably by thugs working for local politicians, who can have reporters silenced with complete impunity.”
Finally, Media Bias Fact Check rates ABS-CBN a Least Biased news source that reports news factually, however, they also indicate that ABS-CBN “has been critical of President Rodrigo Duterte who has threatened to block them in the past.”
Dave Van Zandt from Media Bias Fact Check states that it is a “sad day for free speech in the Philippines, hopefully, the Government will quickly reverse this decision for the citizens of the Philippines.”
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