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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

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

McConnell drops filibuster demand, paving way for power-sharing deal

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (R) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell attend a joint session of Congress. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has abandoned his demand that Democrats state, in writing, that they would not abandon the legislative filibuster.

Between the lines: McConnell was never going to agree to a 50-50 power sharing deal without putting up a fight over keeping the 60-vote threshold. But the minority leader ultimately caved after it became clear that delaying the organizing resolution was no longer feasible.

5 hours ago - Technology

Scoop: Google won't donate to members of Congress who voted against election results

Sen. Ted Cruz led the group of Republicans who opposed certifying the results. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Google will not make contributions from its political action committee this cycle to any member of Congress who voted against certifying the results of the presidential election, following the deadly Capitol riot.

Why it matters: Several major businesses paused or pulled political donations following the events of Jan. 6, when pro-Trump rioters, riled up by former President Trump, stormed the Capitol on the day it was to certify the election results.

5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Minority Mitch still setting Senate agenda

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Chuck Schumer may be majority leader, yet in many ways, Mitch McConnell is still running the Senate show — and his counterpart is about done with it.

Why it matters: McConnell rolled over Democrats unapologetically, and kept tight control over his fellow Republicans, while in the majority. But he's showing equal skill as minority leader, using political jiujitsu to convert a perceived weakness into strength.

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