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VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Remulla’s claim that ABS-CBN was ‘not shut down’ needs context

ABS-CBN was not shut down but only denied a new franchise by Congress.

Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla 2022-10-11 Needs context

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 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.

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.

STATEMENT

“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

FACT

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)

BACKSTORY

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.

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Sources

United Nations TV Geneva, 3920th Meeting, 136th Session, Human Rights Committee (CCPR), Oct. 10, 2022

House votes against franchise renewal

ABS-CBN goes off air

ABS-CBN on other platforms

ABS-CBN News, READ: ABS-CBN statement on layoff of workers, July 15, 2020

On Advanced Media Broadcasting System

On terminated deal with TV5 Network

On Cavite Rep. Barzaga’s proposal

 

 

(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.)