It didn’t help that the Philippines’ erstwhile top mass media corporation initially attempted to frame its legal troubles in a dishonest way and, worse, tried to pervert the honour of no less than the Philippine Senate to its corporate ends. Even in the early days, it was like a cornered animal biting at everything around it that moves after it was ordered to desist from broadcasting over public radio frequencies after its franchise to do so expired.
First, ABS-CBN execs made the fatal mistake of playing what should have been its final ace — its top Senate asset, Grace Poe — early in the game. It played Poe too early and too conspicuously when she stepped up to presumptuously chair an entire Senate “probe” into the plight of the media behemoth — an enterprise she and her family had a sizeable financial exposure to.
Next, ABS-CBN tried to make Filipinos believe it was the “victim” of an imagined government “assault on press freedom”. Unfortunately it exposed this as a lie as well by demonstrating that it remains perfectly free to stream its content over the Net. After all, the architect of that dishonest playbook is none other than “social news network” Rappler, itself a digital-only media organisation that asserts its entitlement to deliver content to a mass audience over the Net (no issue on the part of Rappler not having a franchise to broadcast over public radio frequencies, right?).
More outrageous is the way a bevy of dishonest “journalists” are publishing misleading information based on these twisted ideas using their connections in foreign media. One such “journalist” is Jason Gutierrez whose “report” on the issue published on the New York Times on how “Duterte’s Shutdown of TV Network Leaves Void Amid Coronavirus Crisis” is filled with nothing but false information that directly echoes ABS-CBN’s asserted position.
Not surprisingly, a plea lodged by ABS-CBN before the Philippine Supreme Court that the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) shutdown order “caused ‘grave injustice and irreparable injury’ not only to the network but also to the viewing public” was thrown out in favour of opportunity granted to the NTC and both chambers of Congress to comment on the matter.
Congress, for its part, de-prioritised the ABS-CBN “issue” after House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano announced a House decision to suspend any further work on granting a provisional 5-month broadcast franchise to the network in favour of work on a more “comprehensive” 25-year franchise.
Cayetano said the decision came after lawmakers expressed varying views on the matter and in consultation with House members, political parties and groups. He said that the issue needed to be tackled more comprehensively, which was not possible with other priorities such as the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.
“The House leadership have decided to forgo with the provisional franchise but we will immediately proceed with the hearings for the 25 year franchise,” Cayetano said in a speech delivered before the plenary on Tuesday.
Majority Leader Martin Romualdez said the plenary would now refocus on pending measures in response to the pandemic while the ABS-CBN franchise would be heard at the committee level.
Time and money is running out for ABS-CBN. Its brand equity is being eroded as it deploys its top “talent” to the job of doing its dirty PR work and directs them to rally their respective “fandom” to the corporate cause. Worse, in doing so, this very same “talent” are revealing themselves to be the dull witless hollow-heads everyone suspected they were as they aired their incoherent opinion and quaint temper tantrums on the issue over social media. More importantly, with every week that passes, Filipinos get used to not seeing ABS-CBN’s trashy content polluting their airwaves and wean themselves off the deadly media opiate they are being fed by the Kapamilya network.
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