Pacific Media Watch

17 May 2020

PHILIPPINES: Amidst coronavirus lockdown, biggest Philippines TV network goes off air

On Al Jazeera’s The Listening Post this week: The Filipino government has forced local television network ABS-CBN off the air. Plus, covid-19 is used as a cover to stifle voices of dissent in Hong Kong.

MANILA (Al Jazeera/Asia Pacific Report/Pacific Media Centre): The consensus of presidents and prime ministers just about everywhere has been that getting accurate news and information out is vital since it can save lives, reports Al Jazeera’s Listening Post.

So what have the authorities in the Philippines done? President Rodrigo Duterte’s government has ordered the country’s biggest television broadcaster, ABS-CBN, off the airwaves.

The government says the network’s franchise had expired, and so had its right to broadcast.

READ MORE: Other ABS-CBN television media shutdown stories

That is nowhere near the full story. President Duterte has persistently attacked ABS-CBN for its critical journalism, including its coverage of his so-called war on drugs. He had long threatened to take the network down.

Now that he has got his wish, other media outlets in Duterte’s crosshairs are wondering if and when he will be coming for them.

Manuel Mogato – editor-at-large, PressOnePH
Inday Espina-Varona – former chair, National Union of Journalists of the Philippines
Ging Reyes – head of news, ABS-CBN
Paul Gutierrez – National Press Club of the Philippines

On our radar:
Richard Gizbert speaks to producer Flo Phillips about President Donald Trump’s confrontations with journalists by day and tweetstorms by night.

Under the cover of covid: Cracking down on Hong Kong
Before the pandemic hit, hundreds of thousands of people in Hong Kong took to the streets protesting the erosion of their freedoms, demanding independence from China.

The months of demonstrations led to changes in Hong Kong’s media ecosystem. Nascent, digital news outlets reporting on the front lines saw a huge jump in their numbers and support, a reflection of protesters’ growing distrust in their mainstream media – and mainland China’s growing influence.

Things are gradually returning to a new normal but when covid-19 first emptied Hong Kong’s streets, depriving those outlets of editorial content, a question arose – what will become of them?

In addition, both Beijing and Hong Kong authorities appear to have been using the virus as a cover to crack down on voices they do not like, including the city’s only pro-democracy newspaper, the Apple Daily.

The Listening Post‘s Johanna Hoes reports on Hong Kong’s changing media landscape, COVID-19, and the use of a pandemic to silence dissent.

Mark Simon – executive, Apple Daily
Yuen Chan – senior lecturer, City University
Ronson Chan – deputy assignment editor, Stand News
Tom Grundy – founder, Hong Kong Free Press

Pacific Media Watch

PMC's media monitoring service

Pacific Media Watch is compiled for the Pacific Media Centre as a regional media freedom and educational resource by a network of journalists, students, stringers and commentators. (cc) Creative Commons