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PH TV Network the Final Airing: ABS-CBN now Signing Off

The Philippines’s largest TV network, ABS-CBN, officially went off air, hours after NTC ordered to cease operations against the network “due to the expiration of its congressional franchise.”

President Duterte’s allies in Congress refused to renew the station’s 25-year license. In an order issued on Tuesday, May 5, the government agency tasked with awarding broadcasting licenses said: “absent a valid Congressional Franchise, as required by law.”

In compliance with the directive, the network decided to close down all its radio and television stations including ABS-CBN, DZMM, MOR, and DZMM Teleradyo.

“Millions of Filipinos will lose their source of news and entertainment when ABS-CBN is ordered to go off-air on TV and radio tonight (5 May 2020) when people need crucial and timely information as the nation deals with the COVID-19 pandemic,” said ABS-CBN Corp. in a statement. 

“This is in compliance with the cease and desist order issued by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) today that prohibits ABS-CBN from continuing its broadcast operations effective immediately,” it said. 

Despite Senate Resolution No. 40, the House of Representatives’ committee on legislative franchises’ letter, the guidance of the Department of Justice, and the sworn statement of NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba, the NTC did not grant ABS-CBN a provisional authority to operate while its franchise renewal remains pending in Congress.

In an interview with ABS-CBN’s radio station, DZMM, NTC Deputy Commissioner Edgardo Cabarios said that the order is “immediately executory”, and Department of Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra affirmed the legal opinion.

ABS-CBN's ELJ building shines in red, green, blue
We’ll keep the lights on as a beacon of hope. (credits: ABS-CBN News)

In a statement, which was first read on-air over DZMM, the ABS-CBN management said that it will abide by the order and will stop operation.

“We did not violate the law. This case appears to be an attempt to deprive Filipinos of the services of ABS-CBN,” the company said in a statement.

ABS-CBN also noted how the company has been providing information and aid amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has affected millions of Filipinos. 

“ABS-CBN has been providing comprehensive news coverage on the public health crisis and working with local governments and the private sector in providing food and basic goods for those in need through its “Pantawid ng Pag-ibig” campaign. To date, it has delivered over P300 million worth of goods for the benefit of over 600,000 families affected by the enhanced community quarantine.

“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. 

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

At 7:52 p.m. on Tuesday, May 5, broadcasting giant ABS-CBN’s Channel 2 and Studio 23 officially went off the air.