Lagman backs ABS, TV5 network merger

Opposition lawmaker Edcel Lagman on Thursday challenged ABS-CBN and TV5 to be “brave and steadfast in closing their business agreement which is aboveboard and violates no law or regulation” during a House briefing on Wednesday.

The Albay representative stressed, “there is no merger between ABS-CBN and TV5, and ABS-minority CBN’s investment in TV5 does not result in the acquisition of control,” during a joint briefing on the issue conducted by the Committees on Legislative Franchises and Trade and Industry.

A staunch critic of the network giant ABS-CBN, SAGIP Patylist Rep. Rodante Marcoleta explained on the virtual briefing the alleged ongoing violations of the shuttered ABS-CBN and the reasons why its deal with TV5 is, at the very least, dubious before officials of the National Telecommunications Commission, Philippine Competition Commission, and Securities and Exchange Commission.

Lagman, however, stressed on Thursday that the two media organizations in question “are pausing their closing preparations to respond to some critics.”

The veteran lawmaker contended that requiring TV5 and ABS-CBN to obtain prior clearance from the NTC, the PCC, and Congress before finalizing the deal violates their right to contract, free speech, and freedom of the press.

He even asserted that the viewing public looks forward to the democratization of the broadcast and television industry with the increased competition brought about by the transaction.

The independent minority lawmaker likewise cited the ruling of the Supreme Court in Chavez vs Gonzalez, where it held that press freedom “is the instrument by which citizens keep their government informed of their needs, their aspirations and their grievances. It is the sharpest weapon in the fight to keep government responsible and efficient. Without a vigilant press, the mistakes of every administration would go uncorrected and its abuses unexposed.”

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