Philippines seeks end to ABS-CBN’s franchises

Source:Reuters Published: 2020/2/10 17:43:40

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaks during an interview with Chinese media in Manila, the Philippines, Nov. 7, 2018. (Xinhua/Rouelle Umali)

The Philippine government on Monday asked the Supreme Court to cancel the franchises of the country's biggest media conglomerate, ABS-CBN Corp, on the grounds of "highly abusive practices."

The media group broadcasts programming that attracts audiences of tens of millions of people, but it is disliked by President Rodrigo Duterte, who says it treated him unfairly when he campaigned to become president.

ABC-CBN's franchises are due to expire on March 30, but Congress has yet to start deliberation on several bills seeking the renewal of the company's 25-year licenses.

The request was the second of its kind against a media organization lodged by Solicitor-General Jose Calida, an ally of Duterte, who has been condemned by press freedom groups for making threats against the media.

Calida said that ABS-CBN had also violated foreign ownership rules as the media conglomerate has allowed foreign investors to invest in its Philippine Depositary Receipts.

ABS-CBN operated a pay-per-view channel without regulatory approval and was charging fees that were not supposed to be levied, he said.

Calida cited that the same reason in 2018 in revoking the license of Rappler, a news website known for its tough scrutiny of the Duterte administration.

ABS-CBN reported the filing of the petition and said it would issue a statement later in the day. 

Shares of ABS-CBN Corp fell close to three percent in the first 80 minutes of trading.



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