Philippines top broadcaster ABS-CBN denied new licence

One of the Philippines’ largest broadcasters, ABS-CBN, has been refused a new licence after being forced off air in May.

On Friday, an overwhelming majority of a parliamentary committee rejected as “undeserving” ABS-CBN’s request for a 25-year extension of its franchise.

Government critics say the refusal is directly connected to the channel’s criticism of President Rodrigo Duterte.

ABS-CBN refused to broadcast Mr Duterte’s campaign ads in 2016.

The broadcaster, which operates dozens of radio and TV stations, was first taken off air on 4 May its broadcast licence expired.

Ahead of the vote on its renewal application, pictures on social media showed supporters of the network outside Congress holding up posters proclaiming “Defend Press Freedom” and “Stop The Attacks”.

“This is a black day for media freedom in a country previously regarded as a bastion of press freedom and democracy in the region,” Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director of Human Rights Watch, said on Friday.

“Today’s vote to deny the franchise renewal is an astounding display of obsequious behaviour by Congressional representatives, kowtowing to Duterte by agreeing to seriously limit media freedom in the Philippines,” he said.


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