Philippine agency orders ABS-CBN network to shut down operations amid pandemic

PHILIPPINES — The nation’s largest television network, ABS-CBN Channel 2, along with its radio stations DZMM and MOR 101.9, all signed off the air on Tuesday evening, May 5.

Right after the last TV Patrol episode aired, the airwaves went dark for Channel 2.

The network had adhered immediately to the cease and desist order of the Philippine National Telecommunications Commission, or NTC.

In a letter sent by the NTC, ABS-CBN was ordered to stop operating all of its free TV and radio stations across the country. The network’s 25-year franchise expired on May 4.

The NTC stressed that, based on the radio control law, no person or company may operate any radio or TV broadcasting station without a congressional franchise.

The NTC gave ABS-CBN 10 days to explain why the frequencies assigned to it should not be recalled.

The NTC added that once they receive the reply, they will schedule a hearing after the Philippine government’s enhanced community quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic is lifted.

This came as a surprise to numerous lawmakers in both houses of Congress, as just last March 10 the NTC committed to them that they would grant ABS-CBN a provisional authority to broadcast, while Congress tackles the bill for a new franchise for ABS-CBN, even after the franchise expires on May 4.

A tearful Congresswoman Sol Aragones, a former ABS-CBN reporter, who was at the hearing with the NTC in march, could not contain her emotions.

“Kwento na ito ng 11,000 na dating kasamhana ko, na uamasa sa panano ng pandemia na ito makakalaban pa ba sila, baka bukas wala na silang hanap buhay jumpcut – ngayon pa ba na nahaharap ang bansa sa pinaka mahirap ng yugto ng buhay natin ay isasama pa ba tong mga employhadong ito sa mga naghihirap.”

“This is the story of 11,000 of my former coworkers who are relying on their livelihood amid the pandemic. Can they still fight when tomorrow, maybe, they would no longer have their jobs? This happens now when we are going through the most challenging times in our lives? Will these workers now be among the poor?”

NTC’s commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba himself said back in March to let ABS-CBN continue its operations.

“There is sufficient basis to allow broadcast entities to continue operating while bills for the renewal of franchise remain pending with Congress. However, a more stable legal ENVT could be created if Congress by a concurrent reso would authorize the NTC to issue a provisional authority to these broadcasting companies.”

“May I assure this committee that barring a gross violation of its rules and regulations the NTC will follow the DOJ advise, and let ABS-CBN continue operations based on equity your honors. We are very comforted than both chambers of Congress are aligned with the DOJ and NTC thinking on the issue.”

Reactions of shock and dismay have come from all over.

In the suburbs of the Philippines, this couple Anna and Mark enjoy bonding while watching ABS-CBN every day, something they will not be able to do for now.

“I cannot imagine life without ABS-CBN.”

“When I was in the hospital for four months, I watched showtime and it made me forget my sickness. It’s as if they were with me. They gave me good vibes. I had a positive outlook when I watched them.”

Surge in support for ABS-CBN franchise draws overwhelming response on Twitter

On social media, “No to ABS CBN Shutdown” quickly became the top trending topic, from celebrities to longtime subscribers showing their support for the network.

Here in the U.S., many loyal fans of ABS-CBN said they will surely miss their favorite shows and news programs.

“Bakit naman ganyan, Bakit mag papasara, wag naman yan ang buhay namin sa TFC,” said Elvira Chan, a TFC subscriber. Meron kami tic dito sa tindahan, tv patrol, lahat ng teleserye

“Why is it like that? Why was it shut down? Please, no. That’s our life — TFC. We have a store here where we watch TV Patrol, all the soaps.”

“TFC is number one channel here in U.S., the best, always advance in news I always watch news, what’s happening in the Philippines,” said Joel Castillo, a TFC subscriber.

ABS-CBN’s The Filipino Channel has issued as statement assuring audiences all over the world that they will continue to broadcast and deliver relevant news and information, TV shows and movies across the different tfc channels, online, and digital platforms.

Meanwhile, ABS-CBN Corporation has said they trust that the government will decide on the franchise with the best interest of the Filipino people in mind, recognizing ABS-CBN’s role and efforts in providing the latest news and information during these challenging times.

ABS-CBN remains committed to being in the service of the Filipino community, and will find ways to continue providing meaningful service to them.

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  • Mario
    6 May 2020 at 11:46 pm - Reply

    It is about POLITICS, since the time President DUTERTE became the President, ABS-CBN never gives any good publicity. This TV station had been biased on the President. The LOPEZ and the KASTILA Group financed the Presidency of MARCOS and LOPEZ became the VP, this KASTILA group took advantage of the Government Loan, Bailout their businesses like MERALCO, and acquire ABS-CBN, Jacinto Steel and many more. The Pinoy KASTILA Oligarch became popular in San Francisco and Hollywood. Every time they have a Hotel ballroom party, they have 2 fountains, instead of water it is wine, the other is Champagne. On the 2nd term of Marcos, he confiscated all their businesses for nonpayment of their loan. ABS-CBN became MAHARLIKA Broadcasting run by the Government. When CORY AQUINO took over, she gave MAHARLIKA Broadcasting to the LOPEZ and became TFC ABS-CBN. DUTERTE is correct ABS-CBS is a Government Corporation owned, he has the right to take it over….