THE ABS-CBN media behemoth is an anomaly that has made a mockery of our democracy. This started in the late 1950s, when the landlord oligarch clan, the Lopezes, added to their empire what was then a new medium, television, which proved to be more powerful in reaching the masses than their Manila Chronicle newspaper.
We are the only country in Asia to have such a powerful oligarch as the dominant player in broadcast media, the most effective venue in the modern era for molding the masses’ political consciousness and choices.
Japan has the mammoth NHK, South Korea’s three major network are either government-run or funded, and Singapore’s broadcast and print media are subsidiaries of the government investment fund Temasek Holdings.
Here we have an oligarch clan (in ABS-CBN Corp.), a triumvirate of magnates in another (GMA7) and a foreign tycoon (Indonesian Salim in TV5).
Worse for our democracy, the Lopezes weren’t just ordinary oligarchs. They owned for many decades the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco), the monopoly electricity distributor in Metro Manila, whose fortunes were 100 percent dependent on government regulations.(more…)