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Home Op-Ed Columns Opinion on Page One ABS-CBN’s disgusting betrayal of the country and blatant violation of its franchise

ABS-CBN’s disgusting betrayal of the country and blatant violation of its franchise

 

RIGOBERTO D. TIGLAO

IT’s sickening — and revealing of their true, mercenary nature — that the Communist Party, through its front “party-list” parties and those it has infiltrated through and through like the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines — are demanding for Congress to allow ABS-CBN Corp. to operate.

It is revolting, especially to real journalists, that they are even claiming that the closure of ABS-CBN would be an infringement on press freedom.

 

Freedom of an oligarch to use its media power and debase standards of media fairness to support administrations it uses for its own ends and the Yellow Cult, and attack their political enemies? Freedom for an oligarch to ignore the Constitution in order to generate bigger profits?

Is it so difficult for them to read and understand documents available to everyone, that ABS-CBN betrayed the country when it sold in 2013, about 22 percent of its effective shares — through the flimsy disguise of Philippine Depository Shares — to foreigners, 18 percent to the United States-based The Capital Group, one of the biggest investment companies in the world?

Is it difficult for them to get a copy of our Constitution and read its Section 11, Article XVI: “The ownership and management of mass media shall be limited to citizens of the Philippines, or to corporations, cooperatives or associations, wholly owned and managed by such citizens”? (Italics mine.)

Imperialist
And to think these communists have been claiming to be anti-imperialist nationalists.

The Capital Group is an embodiment of what the Marxists term as financial imperialists — to paraphrase their second god Vladimir Lenin — the most advanced and worst type of capitalists. To the layman, a financial capitalist would be a filthy rich individual who doesn’t have to do anything but have fund managers invest his money all over the world to multiply.

It is ABS-CBN’s investors like The Capital Group that constantly put pressure on its management to churn out as much profits as possible, even if such revenues are based on its programs that cater to the most vulgar aspects of mass culture.

The Constitution bans any money or any form of participation by foreigners in media in order to strengthen our nation by creating a barrier to foreign powers that would want to control our sovereignty through media, the most effective means of molding a people’s consciousness.

But this is not the only reason for the prohibition. Just as important is the fact that broadcast television — which still accounts for the bulk of ABS-CBN’s television reach — is transmitted through electromagnetic waves, which is part of a nation’s patrimony, its precious property.

And these waves are a very limited resource, which therefore can only be allocated to a few companies. The “franchise” a television broadcast company gets from Congress is actually an authority to monopolize a particular spot in the electromagnetic spectrum for its own and exclusive use, to generate profits out of it.

Authority
This is the reason why most countries in the world, especially in Asia, have reserved such broadcast authority only to state corporations. The electromagnetic spectrum is just too valuable to be given to private firms, which would generate huge profits that end up only in the purses, usually, of that country’s elite.

Because our state has been controled by oligarchs devoted to themselves and not to the nation, we are the only country in Asia (and among the few in the world) whose dominant TV network is not owned and run by a state corporation. It is only since the late 1980s that several of these Asian states have allowed private firms — in all cases with smaller markets — to operate TV networks, in order to inject healthy competition.

For instance, in Malaysia, it is Radio Televisyen Malaysia run by the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia that is the dominant TV network; in Singapore, it is MediaCorp owned by the state investment fund Temasek Holdings; in Vietnam, Vietnam Multimedia Corp. of the Ministry of Post and Telematics; in Indonesia, the government’s Televisi Republik Indonesia. We have only PTV-4, run on shoestring budgets ever since 1986, and thus one of the smallest networks.

In contrast, state corporations’ monopoly of TV in other countries have given them so much profits that they have become among the largest media firms in the world, among these, Japan’s NHK, Korea’s Korean Broadcasting System, and of course the world-famous British Broadcasting Corp.

Our worldviews simply have been molded by the US that we think that only the US system of private capitalists owning and running broadcast media is the best. Just look at the results: an embodiment of the Philippine landed-elite-turned-oligarchs have been the political kingmakers, their power disrupted only during Martial Law.

Monopolize
What is disgusting about ABS-CBN is the fact that while Congress had already given them the authority to monopolize an electromagnetic spectrum, they had the gall to violate the Constitution, and in effect give away a part of Philippine patrimony to foreign entities, thereby allowing them, as I reported in my column last Wednesday, P1.3 billion in profits from 2015 to 2019.

I’ll discuss in subsequent columns the cut-and-dried case of ABS-CBN illegally using its franchise for its other ventures not authorized by Congress.

I leave it though to the reader to decide for himself, if ABS-CBN had complied with its basic responsibilities listed in Section 4 of the Republic 7966 that granted it in 1995 a franchise to operate as a TV broadcast network:

“Section 4. Responsibility to the Public — The grantee shall provide adequate public service time to enable the government, through the said broadcasting stations, to reach the population on important public issues; provide at all times sound and balanced programming; promote public participation such as in community programming; assist in the functions of public information and education; conform to the ethics off honest enterprise; and not use its stations for the broadcasting of obscene and indecent language, speech/ act or scene, or for the dissemination of deliberately false information or willful misrepresentation to the detriment of the public interest, or to incite, encourage, or assist in subversive or treasonable acts.”

On my part, I think its so clear that ABS-CBN has been grossly disseminating “deliberately false information or willful misrepresentation to the detriment of the public interest, or to incite, encourage, or assist in subversive or treasonable acts.” That’s why the communists are rallying around a big-capitalist oligarch.

Email: tiglao.manilatimes@gmail.com
Facebook: Rigoberto Tiglao
Twitter: @bobitiglao
Book orders: www.rigobertotiglao.com/debunked

 

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