culture, current events, Media Studies, political, socio-cultural

PRESS FREEDOM: The crux of the ABS-CBN franchise denial

For the past few weeks, the Filipino public has been bombarded with a barrage of propaganda on the side of the President’s men about the alleged violations of ABS-CBN radio-TV network. On the other hand, ABS-CBN’s cable channels have been bombarding the viewers with interviews and testimonials of people claiming that their lives would not be the same without the network. In fact, the way some testimonies are presented gives the idea that some people just can’t live without ABSCBN. The network calls itself KAPAMILYA (of the family) and calls its loyalist audience the same, kapamilya or family member.

While I love watching TV, I just couldn’t force myself to watch local TV shows except for the news and public service programs, esp. on particular occasions like live Senate hearings or impeachment proceedings. I find the local TV variety shows as very trivial and childish while their weekly or continuing series as too melodramatic and their sitcoms as too slapstick for my taste.

Before the era of cable TV and the Internet, I contented myself with watching movies and international TV series through Betamax,  then VHS, then laser discs, then VCDs, then Internet downloads, etc…

As a media studies specialist, media practitioner, and educator, I don’t think ABS-CBN radio-TV network’s managers, producers, presenters, and reporters, etc. have high production or journalistic standards.

LOWEST COMMON DENOMINATOR

Around 2004, I was invited as a resource person in a Focus Group Discussion on Philippine TV conducted by college professors at the University of the Philippines. I asked the TV station representatives if they would ever produce programs not targeted at the lower social classes. They answered me that even if ALL the people belonging to the social classes A and B would watch one program at the same time, that program would still NOT rate. So their answer to my question was: “Never”.

Thus, ABS-CBN, GMA7, and the other local broadcast networks pander to the lowest common denominator. I suppose it is the same with politicians. In a way, the contest between Mr. Duterte and his congressmen and the #ABSCBN network is a contest on winning over their base – the ones with the lowest common denominator.

PRESS FREEDOM

But be that as it may, the denial of the #ABSCBNfranchise renewal is not a matter of legal technicalities or violations of law. It is pure and simple a question of #PRESSFREEDOM.

And as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, “Freedom of conscience, of education, of speech, of assembly are among the very fundamentals of democracy and all of them would be nullified should freedom of the press ever be successfully challenged”.

The closure of ABSCBN’s businesses under its media franchise is a successful challenge to the country’s freedom of the press. The Filipino people should rise to the occasion if they want to continue to enjoy the freedom of conscience, of education, of speech, and of assembly — the very fundamentals of democracy.

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