Responding to questions from a panel of independent human rights experts during the 136th session of the United Nations Human Rights Committee in Geneva last Oct. 11, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla claimed that ABS-CBN was “not shut down” but merely denied a new franchise. This needs context.
“ABS-CBN News was not shut down … what happened here was that they did not meet the requirements of Congress for the granting of a franchise. The violations of ABS-CBN were pointed out by the congressional committee through a technical working group, and was voted 70 to 11 … There was no shutdown of any media organization. There was just a refusal to grant a franchise because a franchise is a privilege.”
Source: United Nations TV Geneva, 3920th Meeting, 136th Session, Human Rights Committee (CCPR), Oct. 11, 2022, watch from 02:30:19 to 02:31:22
Indeed, the House Committee on Legislative Franchises, which included Remulla and 69 other lawmakers, denied ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal on July 10, 2020 with a 70 – 11 vote. But this came two months after ABS-CBN went off the air on May 5, 2020, a day after the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) issued a cease-and-desist order to the network when its 25-year legislative franchise expired.
Without a franchise, the network was forced to explore other platforms that do not require a government license such as streaming its shows and news programs on YouTube, partnering with ZOE Broadcasting Network, Inc. to air its programs on ZOE TV Channel 11 in 2020, and airing six entertainment shows on TV5 Network, Inc. through a deal in 2021.
The network said in a July 2020 statement that it had to cease operations of several of its businesses and make the “difficult and painful decision” to lay off some 11,000 workers. (Read: VERA FILES FACT SHEET: What’s next for ABS-CBN after losing franchise bid?)
During the two-day meeting of the UN Human Rights Committee, Remulla made two other inaccurate responses. On Oct. 10, his statement that red-tagging is merely a way of calling out government critics is misleading. On Oct. 11, he omitted a crucial context in asserting that the ICC no longer has jurisdiction over the Philippines. (See VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Justice Secretary’s justification of government red-tagging misleads and VERA FILES FACT CHECK: For the second time, Justice secretary’s claim on ICC jurisdiction over PH needs context)
Two years after it was denied a new franchise, the NTC awarded ABS-CBN’s former airwaves to Advanced Media Broadcasting System, a media company owned by business tycoon Manny Villar, a political ally of former president Rodrigo Duterte and incumbent President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
In August this year, ABS-CBN had planned a “landmark” deal to acquire 34.99% of the total voting and outstanding capital stock of TV5 Network, Inc. for P2.16 billion. However, the two parties mutually agreed to terminate the agreement less than a month later following concerns raised by NTC and lawmakers about the partnership.
In view of news reports that the network had inked agreements with cable networks Discovery Asia and Asian Food Network for the provision of content, Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr., vice chair of the legislative franchises committee, proposed on Oct. 18 to reopen the probe on ABS-CBN to check if it has done corrective measures on the alleged violations or has been circumventing the law.
Read similar claims about ABS-CBN from other public figures debunked by VERA Files Fact Check:
- VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Duterte’s past statements belie Roque’s claim that the president is ‘neutral’ on ABS-CBN issue
- VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Duterte makes false claim on ABS-CBN’s tax ‘violation’
- VERA FILES FACT CHECK: VP bet Sara Duterte’s hands-off stand on ABS-CBN franchise renewal needs context
- VERA FILES FACT CHECK: SolGen’s claim that ABS-CBN ‘violated’ foreign ownership restriction needs context
- VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Gadon falsely claims SC denied ABS-CBN petition for TRO
- VERA FILES FACT CHECK: NTC backpedals on ABS-CBN franchise
- VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Marcoleta wrongly claims ABS-CBN ‘hid’ tax payments through subsidiary company Big Dipper
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United Nations TV Geneva, 3920th Meeting, 136th Session, Human Rights Committee (CCPR), Oct. 10, 2022
House votes against franchise renewal
- ABS-CBN News, House committee denies ABS-CBN a new franchise, July 10, 2020
- CNN Philippines, House panel denies ABS-CBN’s bid for fresh franchise, July 10, 2020
- Business Mirror, House panel votes 70-11 against ABS-CBN franchise application, July 10, 2020
ABS-CBN goes off air
- ABS-CBN News, ABS-CBN to go off air in compliance with NTC order, May 5, 2020
- CNN Philippines, ABS-CBN goes off air following NTC order, May 5, 2020
- Inquirer.net, ABS-CBN goes off the air, May 5, 2020
- Supreme Court of the Philippines E-library, G.R. No. 252119, Aug. 25, 2020
ABS-CBN on other platforms
- ABS-CBN Corporation, ABS-CBN makes digital pivot, offers more online streaming, July 31, 2020
- ABS-CBN Corporation, ABS-CBN shows to air on Zoe’s new A2Z channel 11, Oct. 6, 2020
- ABS-CBN Corporation, TV5 to air four ABS-CBN Entertainment primetime programs, March 5, 2021
ABS-CBN News, READ: ABS-CBN statement on layoff of workers, July 15, 2020
On Advanced Media Broadcasting System
- Inquirer.net, Billionaire Manny Villar to become next media tycoon after taking over ABS-CBN frequencies, Jan. 25, 2022
- Philstar.com, ABS CBN frequencies suddenly transferred to Manny Villar, Jan. 26, 2022
- Forbes, Philippines’ Richest Man Manuel Villar Takes Over ABS-CBN’s TV Channel Frequencies, Jan. 26, 2022
On terminated deal with TV5 Network
- ABS-CBN Corporation, ABS-CBN and TV5 announce landmark deal, Aug. 11, 2022
- Inquirer.net, ABS-CBN, TV5 Network terminate deal, Sept. 1, 2022
- TV5 News, IRONING OUT | TV5, ABS-CBN hit pause on investment deal to respond to issues, Aug. 24, 2022
- ABS-CBN News, NTC: ABS-CBN, TV5 need gov’t clearances before approval of investment deal, Aug. 24, 2022
- Business World Online, ABS-CBN, TV5 ‘pause’ partnership to face concerns, Aug. 25, 2022
- Business Mirror, ABS-CBN, TV5 pause deal as solons question tie-up, Aug. 24, 2022
On Cavite Rep. Barzaga’s proposal
- ABS-CBN Corporation, ABS-CBN brings more Filipino lifestyle content to Asia via Discovery Asia and Asian Food Network, Oct. 6, 2022
- Inquirer.net, Solon wants Congressional probe on ABS-CBN’s alleged violations reopened, Oct. 18, 2022
- CNN Philippines, Lawmaker wants to reopen probe on ABS-CBN’s alleged violations, Oct. 18, 2022
- Philstar.com, Cavite rep seeks revival of House probe into alleged ABS-CBN violations, Oct. 18, 2022
(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)