The World Broadcasting Unions is voicing support for a large broadcaster in the Philippines after the country’s House of Representatives voted to shut down the broadcaster’s TV and radio services, which include 18 FM and five AM stations.
“The House vote on Friday, July 10, puts at risk the employment of more than 11,000 workers and has drawn accusations of an attack against press freedom,” WBU said in a statement. WBU is a coordinating body of broadcasting unions that represent broadcast networks around the world.
“The closure of ABS/CBN is a matter of concern, not just in the Philippines but internationally.”
It said the vote followed a cease-and-desist order in May by the country’s media regulator shutting down ABS-CBN’s outlets, which also include 42 television stations and 10 digital broadcast channels.
WBU said ABS-CBN is the oldest broadcasting network in the Philippines, operating since 1946, “and a vital source of information for tens of millions of Filipinos.” It noted the importance of broadcast media during the pandemic and in awareness of tropical storms.
It asked lawmakers and the Duterte Administration to reconsider renew ABS-CBN’s franchise.
The WBU noted that ABS-CBN has been fighting to retain its broadcast rights after regulators initially turned down its renewal in February. It was operating under a temporary license. Separately the country’s Supreme Court deferred a hearing in the case. “It is unclear what effect the House vote will have on this legal action,” WBU wrote.
WBU’s members are the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union, the Arab States Broadcasting Union, the African Union of Broadcasting, the Caribbean Broadcasting Union, the European Broadcasting Union, the International Association of Broadcasting and the North American Broadcasters Association.