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Duterte spars with the media during a press conference. Photo: Manman Dejeto/AFP via Getty

The Philippines' telecommunications commission shut down the country's largest TV network on Tuesday, in a surprise move that follows other steps by President Rodrigo Duterte's government to put pressure on major media outlets.

Why it matters: The cease-and-desist order for broadcaster ABS-CBN follows legal threats on the Philippines' largest newspaper, which was sold under pressure to a Duterte ally, and legal cases against leading news site Rappler. It also removes a leading source of news from the airwaves during the coronavirus pandemic.

Where things stand: The order came a day after ABS-CBN's 25-year operating license from Congress expired. The renewal remains pending in Congress, which is filled with Duterte's allies.

The big picture: The network, which has become a cultural symbol and is watched by millions of Filipinos worldwide, was forced to sign off early Tuesday night, leaving the jobs of some 11,000 staff in peril.

What they're saying:

  • A presidential spokesperson backed the commission: “We thank the network for its services to the Filipino nation and people especially in this time of COVID-19. But in the absence of a legislative franchise, as we have earlier said, ABS-CBN’s continued operation is entirely with the National Telecommunication Commission’s decision."
  • The network also issued a statement, saying: "We trust that the government will decide on our franchise with the best interest of the Filipino people in mind, recognizing ABS-CBN’s role and efforts in providing the latest news and information during these challenging times."
  • Media organizations and human rights groups labeled the move an attack on freedom of the press and on the Southeast Asian country's fragile democracy.

Flashback: The media giant was shut down in 1972 during the dictatorial rule of Ferdinand Marcos and reopened after the 1986 People Power Revolution.

The big picture: Duterte has responded angrily to critical coverage, particularly of his violent drug war. He has warned that journalists "are not exempted from assassination."

Go deeper: Press freedom is eroding around the world

Go deeper

Updated 7 hours ago - Sports

The potential GOAT of chess faces intriguing challenger

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The World Chess Championship between Norway's Magnus Carlsen and Russia's Ian Nepomniachtchi began on Friday, 1,094 days after Carlsen won his fourth consecutive title.

Why it matters: During the long, COVID-fueled layoff, chess entered a new era, and with the championship finally here, the age-old game is ready for its close-up.

Department of Interior proposes raising cost of drilling on public lands

A horizontal drilling rig and a pump jack sit on federal land in Lea County, New Mexico. Photo: Callaghan O'Hare/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Oil and gas companies should pay more to drill on federal lands and waters, the Department of the Interior argued in a report released Friday, saying that the current rates were "outdated."

Driving the news: The Department of Interior report said that the federal government's oil and gas leasing and permitting program "fails to provide a fair return to taxpayers, even before factoring in the resulting climate-related costs that must be borne by taxpayers."

8 hours ago - Health

U.S. to restrict air travel from 8 countries over new COVID variant concerns

A COVID-19 vaccine is administered. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The U.S. will impose new air travel restrictions in response to the Omicron variant, a new COVID strain first detected in South Africa, President Biden announced Friday.

The big picture: Air travel from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi will be restricted starting on Monday.

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