Lawmakers vote closes down Philippines' largest TV network

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine lawmakers voted Friday to reject the license renewal of the country’s largest TV network, one of the critical news agencies the president has repeatedly threatened, in a move that shut down a major news provider amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The House of Representatives committee on franchises voted to reject a new 25-year franchise for ABS-CBN Corp., which the National Telecommunications Commission ordered to be shut down in May after its old franchise expired. It left the air then, but the vote takes it off the air permanently.

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International media watchdogs have condemned the closure of ABS-CBN, which was founded in 1953, as a major blow to press freedom in an Asian bastion of democracy. President Rodrigo Duterte and most of his political allies, who dominate Congress overwhelmingly, have raised questions over the TV network’s compliance with the law and the terms of its franchise.

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