Press freedom advocates hold black screen broadcast protests over ABS-CBN shutdown

By Sanafe Marcelo

The #BlackScreenBroadcast happened Friday evening, May 8, as press freedom advocates and rights groups held a two-hour black screen broadcast until 10 pm to denounce the National Telecommunications Commission’s (NTC) cease and desist order against ABS-CBN.

Groups such as the University of the Philippines Film Institute, the Altermidya Network and the Concerned Artists of the Philippines took to Facebook to broadcast a black screen symbolizing the sign off the media giant was forced to undergo by the Rodrigo Duterte government.

“As ABS-CBN shuts down, we go live in the dark. Imagine what a world would look like without freedom of expression. A world without stories, without conversations, without the exchange of ideas, without the checking of truth. Imagine not being able to imagine. When the powerful reign. When critics are silent. When the world goes dark. So tonight, we go live in the dark,” the group explained.

The online protest was in solidarity with ABS-CBN, to condemn the shutdown of the network and fight against the attack on press freedom.

Also on Friday night, the group Dakila, together with other press freedom advocates, launched the petition “Channel our Light; Solidarity statement of the Arts, Media and s Community” that garnered 781 signatures as of press time.

“The shutting down of the country’s largest media network, the attacks on the independent press, the orchestrated spread of disinformation, and the killings of journalists all lay down a worrying pattern of repression and conditions for more hardship. In effect, we are deprived of accessible, credible, and accurate information and our right to speak truth to power, both crucial to saving lives,’ Dakila said in the petition

The protest actions has started in January, led by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, when news of plans by the Office of the Solicitor General to contest the network’s continued operations was first published.

The group led different protest actions worldwide that stopped when the corona virus lockdown started.

When ABS-CBN was finally forced to stopped broadcasting on free television and radio, however, the protest actions resumed.

Last Tuesday and Friday, the NUJP also held simultaneous online protests. #