CCPC on ABS-CBN shutdown: How can this not be a press freedom issue?
CEBU CITY, Philippines — “The House has closed down a media and business establishment for alleged violations of journalism standards. And it imposed the death penalty, so to speak, instead of the usual warning and fine. A dangerous and scary precedent for the news media. How can this not be a press freedom issue?”
This was the conclusion of the Cebu Citizens – Press Council’s (CCPC) official statement on the decision of a House panel to shut down media giant ABS-CBN by denying its franchise renewal.
CCPC on Sunday, July 12, said the decision of the House’s committee of legislative franchises to deny ABS-CBN another 25 years to operate is a blow to press freedom.
“House members testified to ABS-CBN’s manner of reporting and commentary. The five complainants are politicians who had personal grievance against the network. Hardly the number and kind that can assess impartially and competently the network’s decades of journalism work,” said CCPC.
“The ABS-CBN controversy would not have evolved into a press freedom issue if there was no repeated public threat to close down the network from the highest official of the land, which firmed up suspicion about the long legislative inaction and, later, intensive scrutiny of the network’s alleged violations,” they added.
CCPC also said the death sentence lawmakers handed down on the broadcasting giant during a hearing last Friday, July 10, is a cause of concern for journalists nationwide.
“They (journalists) are angry over the “raw deal” ABS-CBN got and could also get. Yet they must also be worried, even frightened, at the prospect of reporting and commenting on the news with the constant risk of displeasing politicians who grant or deny the franchise,” CCPC stated.
Voting 70 – 11, the committee on legislative franchises of the House of Representatives decided to scrap ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal.
Two lawmakers representing Cebu districts voted in favor of the resolution denying the network’s franchise which is needed for it to operate in the next 25 years. /dbs
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