Philippines orders broadcaster that refused to air president’s campaign ads off the air

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The Philippines’ telecoms body ordered the country’s leading broadcaster ABS-CBN Corp. to cease operations on Tuesday, as a parliament dominated by President Rodrigo Duterte’s loyalists dragged its feet over renewing its license.

Duterte has repeatedly threatened to block the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise, after the channel angered him during the 2016 presidential election by refusing to air his campaign commercials.

Opposition lawmakers described the order for the channel to suspend operations as “ill-timed” given the need to inform the public in the battle against the coronavirus outbreak in the country.

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In a statement, ABS-CBN said it will stop operations Tuesday evening to comply with the order from the National Telecommunications Commission, while also imploring lawmakers in Congress, the lower house of parliament, to renew its franchise, which expired on May 4.

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“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,” the channel said in a statement.

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