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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 20 mins ago - Politics & Policy

"Believe your eyes": Prosecutors make closing arguments in Chauvin trial

Steve Schleicher, an attorney for the prosecution in Derek Chauvin's trial, began closing arguments on Monday by describing in detail George Floyd's last moments — crying out for help and surrounded by strangers, as Chauvin pressed his knee into Floyd for nine minutes and 29 seconds.

Why it matters: The jury's verdict in Chauvin's murder trial, seen by advocates as one of the most crucial civil rights cases in decades, will reverberate across the country and have major implications in the fight for racial justice.

Kendall Baker, author of Sports
5 hours ago - Sports

European soccer is at war

Liverpool celebrating its 2019 Champions League victory. Photo: Nigel Roddis/Getty Images

Europe's biggest soccer clubs have established The Super League, a new midweek tournament that would compete with — and threaten the very existence of — the Champions League.

Why it matters: This new league, set to start in 2023, "would bring about the most significant restructuring of elite European soccer since the 1950s, and could herald the largest transfer of wealth to a small set of teams in modern sports history," writes NYT's Tariq Panja.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
5 hours ago - Economy & Business

2021's expected earnings blowout begins

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon. Photo: Mark Kauzlarich/Bloomberg via Getty Images

First-quarter earnings so far have been very strong, outpacing even the rosy expectations from Wall Street and that's a trend that's expected to continue for all of 2021. S&P 500 companies are on pace for one of the best quarters of positive earnings surprises on record, according to FactSet.

Why it matters: The results show that not only has the earnings recession ended for U.S. companies, but firms are performing better than expected and the economy may be justifying all the hype.

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