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ABS-CBN complies with NTC order, goes off the air on Tuesday night

Broadcast giant ABS-CBN complied with the National Telecommunications Commission's order for it cease operations after its legislative franchise expired and signed off Tuesday night.

"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," ABS-CBN said 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 added.

Through its evening newscast TV Patrol, ABS-CBN gave its parting shot, with ABS-CBN President and CEO Carlo Katigbak delivering a speech. Broadcast journalist and news anchor Noli de Castro closed the show, saying: "Hindi kami mananahimik sa pag-atakeng ito sa demokrasya at sa malayang pamamahayag... Hindi namin kayo tatalikuran."

After the news program, the national anthem was played followed by a public service announcement in Filipino. "Hanggang sa muli (till we meet again), kapamilya," it said. 

The station officially signed off at exactly 7:52 p.m.

The NTC issued a cease and desist order against ABS-CBN to operate its various television and radio broadcasting stations nationwide, absent a valid congressional franchise which lapsed on May 4, 2020.

"Upon the expiration of RA 7966, ABS-CBN no longer has a valid and subsisting congressional franchise as required by Act No. 3846," it said in a statement.

The NTC said the broadcasting company can seek legal remedies and may challenge or appeal its order. 

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, ABS-CBN said the NTC did not grant it a provisional authority to operate while its franchise renewal remains pending in Congress.

“In an interview with DZMM last week, House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano even gave an assurance that there is no move to shut down the network,” it said.

NTC Deputy Commissioner Edgardo Cabarios, in an earlier interview with Dobol B sa News TV, clarified that the commission deemed it legally proper to issue a cease and desist order and not issue a provisional authority to ABS-CBN due to a pending quo warranto petition in the Supreme Court questing the network’s franchise.

Nevertheless, ABS-CBN said it trusts that the government will decide on its franchise with the best interest of the Filipino people in mind, recognizing its 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,” it said.

ABS-CBN said it 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,” it said.-NB/LDF/MDM, GMA News