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Wrong reasons

Press freedom of ABS-CBN as a business enterprise was not indefinite. It was circumscribed and limited by the provisions of its legislative franchises.




The push to give the Lopez broadcast giant ABS-CBN a new lease on life through a Congressional franchise is now in full gear, and it is not being done in the country but in the United States, the supposed domicile of its head honcho.

San Mateo, California county supervisor David Canepa wrote President Rodrigo Duterte to complain about “a brazen demonstration of contempt against a free press in the Philippines” with the “shutdown of the country’s largest broadcaster.”

The alleged shutdown never happened as time simply ran out for ABS-CBN in renewing its 25-year franchise.

Without a franchise, the regulator National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) ordered the network to cease operations, which is only proper since the Lopez firm’s business is based on the use of airwaves that are owned by the state.

Canepa said he is writing on behalf of Filipino Americans, which have one of the biggest communities in the United States in his county.

“The reason that it’s so important to get ABS-CBN, their channels and radio stations back on air is because some of the most marginalized and poorest communities are now cut off from critical information that is essential to their survival,” the California official surmised, apparently convinced about the authenticity of a clip supposedly showing a member of a “poor” family enraged by the signing off of the TV station and flinging a flat-screen television out on the street.

The letter noted that Filipinos living in the United States were also affected by the developments on ABS-CBN, which just showed that Canepa was not apprised of the real deal since the network continues with programs on the Internet, which is the medium of The Filipino Channel (tfc) that gets subscribers overseas.

The letter ended with the outrageous claim that “the economies of both the Philippines and the United States will suffer without an agreement that guarantees a free press and the nation’s access to information so that all people have a fair chance to survive the pandemic.”

Suffering, however, is not in the horizon for ABS-CBN as it even launched a bigger operation in its North American arm.

It opened new offices in Daly City, California to signal its renewed thrust for its overseas operations that does not rely on the franchise.

ABS-CBN International said the cease and desist order issued by the NTC did not affect “the continued distribution of TFC around the world.”

The deliberation on the franchise continues, which is another proof that no violation of any freedom had happened in the case of ABS-CBN, except for its continued bloodletting of what it claimed as P35 million daily in missed advertisements.

It has nothing to with press freedom but the lost opportunity for maximum profit that ABS-CBN used to collect without breaking a sweat through sheer political influence.

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