Press Release
December 11, 2011


The greatest enemy of press freedom and freedom of expression the poor economy of the country which makes publishing and broadcasting difficult, said Senator Edgardo J. Angara in his keynote address at the Communications Expo 2011 held in Boracay on December 8.

"The free economy--where demand and availability dictate price, especially of oil, and with it, newsprint, ink and electricity--is killing freedom of expression. It is killing free expression far more effectively than tyranny ever could," he pointed out.

The veteran lawmaker explained that a weak economy leaves people with less money for non-essentials, like newspapers whose prices go up to meet rising costs. Instead of watching more bad news on TV, people may be working that extra shift to make up for the shrinking buying power.

He continued, "Today, our economy's growth has slowed from a little over 7 to a under 4 percent. The situation for media and other traditional forms of communication will only worsen as the cost barrier to press freedom--the wall of production and distribution costs around free and effective communication--rises ever higher."

But Angara, Chair of the Senate Committee on Education, Arts and Culture, said that economics also provides the answer: technology and innovation.

"It took 400 years to get most of the world accustomed and drawn to the printed word. It only took a decade to revolutionize and universalize communication through the World Wide Web," he said.

He cited the example of The New York Times which went bankrupt and had to be rescued by the Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, affecting its credibility. But through its effective use of the web, it was able to turn its finances around.

Angara continued, "Technology has opened a new frontier of communication where the material cost is minimal compared with the intellectual and imaginative demands. One needs more mind, memory and imagination to communicate effectively through the web than on the printed page.

"The greatest threat to press freedom and freedom of expression is economics. But the new economy has also provided the greatest means of liberation," he concluded.

The two day convention was organized by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) - National Committee on Communications.

Angara, known as a patron of culture and the arts, was the author of the law which created the NCCA in 1992.

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