TV firm’s ‘shutdown’ to hurt investor confidence
For the country’s chief economist, a looming shutdown of media giant ABS-CBN Corp. could hurt investor confidence in the Philippines.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia last week clarified that the state planning agency National Economic and Development Authority (Neda), which he heads, had no specific position with regards to the legal troubles that ABS-CBN is facing as far as its expiring franchise and the quo warranto case filed last week by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) against the network were concerned.
Pernia himself admitted that he did not want to get involved nor entangled in a political issue as ABS-CBN had been critical of President Duterte.
On the other hand, the OSG had alleged that the country’s biggest multimedia company broke the rules covering its existing franchise as well as constitutional restrictions on mass media ownership.
But as an academic and an economist, Pernia said he “will always favor more diversity, more openness, [and] progressive ideas.”
Pernia also noted that “a lot of people are benefitting, congressmen and senators are benefitting from it, and even the masses benefit from ABS-CBN shows, so it’s a difficult thing.”
Asked if shutting down ABS-CBN could affect investor confidence, Pernia replied: “I guess so, I suppose so. Because investors realize that it’s very popular, it’s wanted by so many people.”
Pernia had been pushing for the removal of the foreign-ownership restrictions on mass media, which is embedded in the Constitution.
In a statement last week, the Economic Journalists Association of the Philippines (Ejap) expressed “grave concern” over the government’s moves to shutter ABS-CBN and its subsidiary, ABS-CBN Converge Inc.
Ejap also urged Congress to “give due course” and renew ABS-CBN’s franchise.
“Ejap hopes that Congress will exercise its independence as a co-equal branch of government and commence work on ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal to ensure a more dynamic free flow of information for the benefit of a better-informed citizenry and robust Philippine democracy,” it said.
“A free media is a cornerstone of a dynamic democracy and even the slightest trace of political persecution undermines the dynamism that makes democracy the most desirable form of governance for Filipinos,” it added. INQ
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