ABS-CBN, the Philippines’ leading media network, was ordered by the National Telecommunication Commission to stop broadcasting immediately on Tuesday after its license expired.
The network went off the air on free TV and radio across the Philippines on Tuesday evening.
In an order issued, the government agency tasked with awarding broadcasting licences said “absent a valid Congressional Franchise, as required by law”, the network should stop its various television and radio operations.
Congress has sole authority in the Philippines to grant broadcast licenses, but lawmakers who are mostly allied with President Rodrigo Duterte, have declined to act on bills seeking the renewal of ABS-CBN’s permit.
President Rodrigo Duterte has regularly criticized ABS-CBN, in what opposition lawmakers and activists have described as an attack on independent media.
NTC said ABS-CBN’s 25-year congressional license expired on May 4.
The company has 10 days to respond and say why frequencies assigned to it should not be recalled but there was no immediate comment from the network.
ABS-CBN said it had been told it could continue broadcasting while it waited for Congress to renew its license but the regulator said it must stop.
Chairman Mark Lopez told viewers: “It’s painful for us that we are being shut down, but it’s also painful for millions of our countrymen who believe that our service is important to them.”
In a statement, the ABS-CBN management said that it will abide by the order and will stop operation.
“We did not violate the law. This case appears to be an attempt to deprive Filipinos of the services of ABS-CBN,” the company said.
Founded in 1953, the media conglomerate employs 11,000 people.
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