NUJP: Latest stop order vs ABS-CBN deprives 11 million Filipinos of news, information

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
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

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: January 27, 2021 - 3:35pm

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.

January 27, 2021 - 3:35pm

Rep. Mike Defensor (Anakalusugan Party-list) attempts to put the ABS-CBN franchise up for a vote in the plenary, saying it should be taken up as it is in the House's unfinished business.

The House rejects his motion, but he appeals this. House leaders later on commit to begin tackling its unfinished business beginning Monday. —  Xave Gregorio

January 18, 2021 - 3:38pm

Rep. Vilma Santos-Recto (Batangas) has filed a bill seeking the renewal of the franchise granted to broadcast giant ABS-CBN.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III earlier filed a similar bill at the Senate, saying a majority of Filipinos get their news primarily from TV. 

Franchise bills emanate from the House of Representatives.

January 5, 2021 - 8:00pm

Malacañang is leaving it up to Congress to decide on the new bill seeking to renew the franchise of television network ABS-CBN, which was forced to lay off thousands of workers after its franchise expired last May. 

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque disagreed, saying the fate of the bill depends on lawmakers. 

"Well, again, I beg to differ; that is a sole constitutional prerogative of Congress which must originate from the House of Representatives," Roque says at a press briefing. —  Alexis Romero

January 4, 2021 - 4:53pm

Senate President Tito Sotto files a bill renewing the franchise of broadcast giant ABS-CBN, which went off the air in May.

Sotto's bill seeks to renew the franchise of ABS-CBN Corporation, which expired in March 2020, to another 25 years.

"ABS-CBN's wide reach to Filipinos, alongside with the undeniable advantages of broadcast media relative to mass communication, definitely calls for the immediate renewal of the network's franchise," Sotto says in his bill.

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.

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