MANILA - The shutdown of ABS-CBN Corp's broadcast operations made international headlines as rights groups, lawmakers, and the general public decried the curtailment of press freedom at a time of crisis.
ABS-CBN, the country's largest broadcast company, was forced to go off the air after the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) went back on its commitment to allow its continued operations following the lapse of its franchise on Monday.
Among the international news media that reported the network's closure was The New York Times, which wrote, "ABS-CBN has closely documented President Rodrigo Duterte’s brutal war on drugs that has left thousands of people dead. Such coverage has made it a target of the administration."
The Washington Post, CBS News, and British media giant BBC also reported the network's shutdown.
"Disinformation plagues the Web in the social media-savvy Philippines; last month, Twitter took down hundreds of suspicious accounts using pro-government hashtags — among them, #YesToABSCBNShutdown," The Washington Post wrote.
Qatari pay TV channel Al Jazeera, Alibaba-owned South China Morning Post (SCMP), Singapore's The Strait Times, The Bangkok Post also reported the Philippine network's closure.
"Allies of President Duterte refused to renew station's 25-year licence following his tirades against the company," Al Jazeera wrote.
"Several major media outlets in the Philippines have battled with President Rodrigo Duterte and then suffered the consequences," the SCMP reported.
The country's telecoms body ordered a cease-and-desist order against ABS-CBN two days after the government's top lawyer, Solicitor General Jose Calida, said the network should not be allowed to operate past its expired franchise.
Calida's advise to the NTC was released on World Press Freedom Day.
ABS-CBN, in a statement, noted how the company has been providing information and aid especially during the coronavirus pandemic, which has affected millions of Filipinos.
"We trust that the government will decide on our 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," it said in a statement.
"ABS-CBN remains committed to being in the service of the Filipino and we will find ways to continue providing meaningful service to them," it added.
News.abs-cbn.com is the official news website of ABS-CBN Corp.