Activists have called the move as a "sign of dictatorship".
Govt’s lawyer, Solicitor General Jose Calida, said ABS-CBN television network committed "highly abusive practices" in its operation, and its franchise should be revoked. Calida also alleged that ABS-CBN is "hiding behind an elaborately crafted corporate veil", allowing foreign entities to invest in the company, "in gross violation of the foreign interest restriction" spelled out in the constitution.
Since becoming president in 2016, Duterte has expressed his disdain towards the television network, which is owned by one of the richest families in the Philippines. He claimed the channel had refused to run his political advertisements during the campaign - allegations the network has denied - and last year said he would block the renewal of the network's 25-year legislative franchise.
He had once said: "This ABS, your contract will expire, and you try to renew. I don't know what will happen to you. If I were you, just sell it.”
Danilo Arao, journalism professor at the University of the Philippines, said the move showed the Duterte administration was using "full state machinations" against the media. "In authoritarian rule, we know that the chief enemy of all dictators would be the media," Arao said.
He added: "The chilling effect is very clear. It wants to harass and intimidate a particular news media organisation so that other news organisations will toe the line." The move was a clear "sign of dictatorship", he added.
Activists are saying that media is unsafe as long as Duterte is the President.