NUJP: Latest stop order vs ABS-CBN deprives 11 million Filipinos of news, information
Supporters and employees of ABS-CBN stage a protest in Manila on February 21, 2020.
AFP, file
NUJP: Latest stop order vs ABS-CBN deprives 11 million Filipinos of news, information
Kristine Joy Patag ( - July 1, 2020 - 10:15am

MANILA, Philippines — The latest stop order to shutdown ABS-CBN’s affiliates deprives millions of Filipinos of news when information is most vital and would save lives in the middle of a pandemic, said the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.

“This effectively deprives millions more Filipinos—an estimated 11 million homes according to ABS-CBN CEO Carlo Katigbak—of their right to know and to choose how to access their news, information and entertainment,” NUJP said in a statement Tuesday.

As the House of Representatives continues its winding hearings on ABS-CBN’s franchise bills, the NTC issued another CDO on Tuesday afternoon. This time, the commission wanted Sky Cable Corp.’s  Direct broadcast, an ABS-CBN affiliate, and the network’s digital terrestrial television in Metro Manila, which covers the TVPlus service to go off air.

After its primetime night newscast TV Patrol, ABS-CBN was again forced to shut its operations and black screens again greeted its audiences—a repeat of the evening of May 5 when the network first complied with the telecoms regulator’s CDO.

NTC's latest order is also in line with the Duterte administration’s efforts to silence the media network, said the journalists’ group.

“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,” NUJP added.

ABS-CBN has, for years, been at the bitter end of Duterte’s tongue lashing for its supposedly biased coverage against the government and "swindling" him for not airing his campaign material. He told the network in a speech December 2019 that he would block the renewal of its franchise and that ABS-CBN may be better off it would sold off. But it appears it may be water under the bridge now because Duterte had accepted ABS-CBN’s apology months back, and his spokesman, Harry Roque, said Duterte is now "neutral" on the issue.

Rep. Mike Defensor (Anakalusugan party-list), vice chair of the House’s committee on good government and public accountability, previously proposed that ABS-CBN would be allowed to resume airing its entertainment and variety shows, including tele-nobelas, but not its news and public affairs programs.

NUJP slammed this compromise offer and said it shows that the ABS-CBN franchise issue is being used as an example as efforts are actually “aimed at emasculating the media.”

“This must not go unchallenged,” NUJP said as it called on news organizations in the country to demand to stop the “persecution” of ABS-CBN.

The journalists’ group called on the public to “raise your voices and let it be known that the Filipino will not stand idly by as they run roughshod over our rights and liberties.”

Labor issues not cause to stop operations of ABS-CBN

Even media workers who filed a labor case against GMA Network pointed out to the Congress that issues on media personnel welfare did not block the issuance of a legislative franchise to another media giant.

RELATED: Labor case of ex-GMA 'talents' reaches SC as network assails Court of Appeals ruling

ABS-CBN's alleged violations of labor laws are among the reasons raised by detractors on why the broadcast giant, which employs over 11,000 Filipinos, should not be given a new legislative franchise to operate. 

Talents Association GMA or TAG acknowledged that tackling media violations — private and State-run, alike — on its workers’ welfare is an important issue, but they noted that their labor case did not block the granting of legislative franchise to GMA Network in 2017, “an issue that seems to not have been discussed in the hearings.”

“May [discussions] not stray away from the issue just to delay the grant of franchise for ABS-CBN,” the group also said in Filipino.

“Makakaaasa po sana kami na sa mga susunod na pagdinig, ang kapakanan ng mga manggagawa ang mabigyang-pansin at hindi pansariling-interes o pulitika,” they added.

(We wish that in the coming hearings, the welfare of workers may be discusses and not self-interest or politicking.) 

ABS-CBN ran to the Supreme Court for relief against the implementation of NTC's first CDO, but almost two months have passed and the network has yet to secure a temporary restraining order. The high court will again take up the network's plea on July 13. — with reports from Ian Nicolas Cigaral

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: October 6, 2020 - 2:27pm

ABS-CBN Corp. stopped broadcasting on its TV and radio stations on May 5, 2020 after the National Telecommunications Commission issued a cease and desist order. The network's franchise had lapsed on May 4 without action by the House of Representatives.

October 6, 2020 - 2:27pm

Broadcast giant ABS-CBN Corp. is returning to free TV starting Saturday after striking a deal with Zoe Broadcasting Network Inc. 

The network announces that "some entertainment shows and movies" it produces will be aired in the "rebranded" A2Z channel 11, formerly Zoe TV, the free TV channel of Jesus Is Lord Church led and founded by Eddie Villanueva.

"A2Z channel 11 will be seen on analog TV in Metro Manila and nearby provinces," the network says.

September 24, 2020 - 11:13am

Eugenio "Gabby" Lopez III tenders his resignation as chairman emeritus and director of ABS-CBN Corporation due to personal reasons.

Lopez also steps down as director of ABS-CBN Holdings Corporation, Sky Vision Corporation, Sky Cable Corporation, First Philippine Holdings Corporation, First Gen Corporation and Rockwell Land Corporation.

"He expressed his appreciation for the trust of the stockholders as well as to his co-directors and senior management for the privilege of having served with them over the years," ABS CBN Head of Corporate Communications Kane Errol Choa says in a statement.

September 12, 2020 - 11:56am

A group of teachers denounces anew the shutting down of ABS-CBN network, with its education platform—Knowledge Channel—just like what ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr. did 48 years ago.

"In the spirit of upholding press freedom and the people's right to information, and the media's burgeoning role in education amid the pandemic, ACT supports the Knowledge Channel Foundation Inc. in its bid to extend its services and resources to the Department of Education as the public education system shifts to remote learning in response to the pandemic," says the Alliance of Concerned Teachers Philippines in a statement.

September 10, 2020 - 4:35pm

The National Telecommunications Commission recalls the frequencies assigned to broadcast giant ABS-CBN following the non-renewal of its legislative franchise.

In its decision released Thursday, the NTC points out that ABS-CBN does not have a valid franchise to continue operating television and radio broadcasting stations nationwide.

"Indubitably, the denial of Respondent's franchise renewal application in Congress, coupled with the denial of Respondent's Petition by the Supreme Court, lead to no other conclusion except that Respondent had already lost the privilege of installing, operating, and maintaining radio broadcasting stations in the country," the NTC says.

August 30, 2020 - 2:27pm

Broadcast journalist Ted Failon is leaving ABS-CBN after 30 years, the network says Sunday, adding his final appearances on "TV Patrol" and "Failon Ngayon sa TeleRadyo" will be on August 31.

"The closure of ABS-CBN's radio broadcast operations led to his painful decision and we respect it. We admire Ted's talent, passion, and commitment to radio as his most effective medium in serving the Filipino people," the network also says.

Last Friday, 12 regional "TV Patrol" programs went off the air also due to a House panel's decision in July to junk ABS-CBN's application for a new franchise.

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