ABS-CBN shutdown: Far-flung areas deprived of typhoon, COVID-19 news?

MANILA, Philippines – It is true that only ABS-CBN signal can reach some of the far-flung areas of the country. But the recent shutdown of its operations due to cease-and-desist order of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) left our folks in the dark without knowing updates on typhoon and coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

ABS-CBN shutdown: Far-flung areas
Photo Credit: ABS-CBN News

ABS-CBN broadcast journalist Jeff Canoy shared on Thursday the sentiment of checkpoint authorities as he was about to cover the onslaught of Typhoon 'Ambo' (Vongfong) in Aurora province.

The police officer was hoping the network to be back on-air citing mobile signal woes and ABS-CBN is the only television network with good reception in their area.

Police: Sir, diba kayo ‘yung nasa bagyo parati?
Jeff: Ah, opo sir.
Police: Babalik na ba kayo sir?
Jeff: Sir, papunta pa lang ako Aurora.
Police: Hindi sir. ‘Yung ABS, babalik na ba?
Jeff: Aaah. Sana, sir.
Police: Facebook na lang ba kayo? Hirap ng data dito sa bundok sir.
Jeff: Mukha nga sir.
Police: ABS lang ang malakas ang signal dito. May bagyo ngayon di namin malaman kung ano nangyayari.
Jeff: Hirap nga sir pero ganun muna talaga siguro.
Police: Sana makabalik na kayo sir.
Jeff: Sana, sir.

Kanina sa checkpoint sa border ng Aurora kung saan ako papunta para mag-cover ng bagyo, pinababa kami ng mga...
Posted by Jeff Canoy on Thursday, May 14, 2020

CBS News journalist Bernaby Lo and Washington Post Manila reporter Regine Cabato also echoed how Filipinos were deprived of crucial information in these trying times.

Bangsamoro Parliament member Zia Alonto Adiong tweeted that several remote areas in Mindanao relied on the network as their main source of information.

“Living in an area where cable networks hardly operate, [the] majority of our towns in Lanao del Sur, especially in far-flung areas, tuned in to ABS-CBN because its the only channel their makeshift TV antennas could reach. They, too, have rights to accurate information,” the lawmaker said, expressing his support for ABS-CBN.

On Wednesday, the Congress approved on second reading HB No. 6732 filed by House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano granting ABS-CBN a provisional franchise until end of October 2020. Once fully approved by the Lower House, the Senate will then tackle the bill for their approval. President Rodrigo Duterte will also sign for its execution and taking the bill into law.

Before Cayetano bill, 11 bills already sought for the renewal of ABS-CBN franchise, but those remain pending before the House committee on legislative franchises. Cayetano previously assured the network that it would not shut down its operations even if its franchise lapses.

In the Senate hearing last February, the Kapamilya network said they already answered all alleged violations on franchise renewal, including questions on labor and tax.

ABS-CBN went off air on May 5, a day after its 25-year franchise expired.

Solicitor General Jose Calida was accused of pressuring NTC to order the shutdown of ABS-CBN.

While the network went off air, its flagship news program 'TV Patrol' returned, not on Channel 2, but online.

— The Summit Express

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