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Philippines’ biggest broadcaster ABS-CBN forced off air after criticising President Rodrigo Duterte

The Philippines‘ top broadcaster was forced off air on Tuesday over a stalled operating licence renewal, drawing fresh accusations that the authorities are cracking down on press freedom.

Since angering President Rodrigo Duterte in 2016, proposals to extend ABS-CBN’s franchise have been delayed in Congress as the president repeatedly attacked the media group in speeches.

Duterte is notorious for tangling with media outlets critical of his policies, sparking concern that press freedoms have been eroded.

“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,” chairman Mark Lopez told viewers just before the main channel went dark.

Outside the company’s broadcast compound, a handful of supporters waved placards against a backdrop of burning candles.

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