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DOJ OPINION NO. 163, s.

1973
November 21, 1973

The Secretary of Public


Information
Malacaang, Manila
Sir :
This is in reply to your request for opinion, in the light of the effectivity of the
new Constitution, on the following questions:
1. The definition of mass media as used in the New Constitution and
related decrees and laws;
2. The effects of the New Charter on the organization, management
and operation of mass media; and
3. The status of foreign rights and interests, especially those of
Americans, in the field of mass media, taking into consideration the termination
of Parity Rights in 1974

1.

The Constitution provides:

"Art. XV. Sec. 7(1) The ownership and management of mass media
shall be limited to citizens of the Philippines or to corporations or associations
wholly owned and management by such citizens.
"(2) The governing body of every entity in commercial
telecommunications shall in all cases be controlled by citizens of the
Philippines."

Mass medium (pl. mass media) is defined in Webster's Third New


International Dictionary, "as a medium of communication (as the newspapers, radio,
motion pictures, television) that is designed to reach the mass of the people and that
tends to set the standards, ideals, and aims of the masses."
Presidential Decree No. 191, which created the Media Advisory Council, to
pass upon applications of mass media for permission to operate, includes in the
enumeration of mass media "newspaper, magazine, periodical, or publication of any
kind, radio, television, and telecommunications facility, station or network" (see also
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PD No. 36 creating the Mass Media Council, which preceded the Media Advisory
Council). The Rules and Regulations promulgated by the Media Advisory Council,
approved by the President of the Philippines, defined "mass media" as
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". . . the gathering, transmission, of news, information, messages,


signals, and forms of written, oral, and all visual communications, and shall
embrace the print media, radio, television, films, movies, wire and radio
communications services, advertising in all its phrases, and their business
management" (Title XII, Sec. a-1).

It will be seen that while the definitions of mass media for purposes of the
Media Advisory Council law are broad enough to include telecommunications
facilities, stations or network, and wire and radio communication services, the
Constitution itself distinguishes commercial telecommunications from mass media by
imposing a different nationality requirement, i.e., while ownership and management
of mass media shall be limited to citizen of the Philippines or to corporations or
associations wholly owned and managed by such citizens, it is merely required, with
respect to entities engaged in commercial telecommunications, that the governing
body be controlled by citizens of the Philippines, There is no question therefore, that
for purposes of implementing the citizenship requirement with respect to the
ownership and management of mass media. commercial telecommunications should
be excepted there from, it being sufficient that the governing body of entities engaged
therein be controlled by Philippine citizens. For this purpose, telecommunication
may be defined in its generally accepted meaning, i.e., communication at a distance,
as by cable, radio, telegraph, telephone, or television, (see Webster's Third New
International Dictionary) on a person to person or station-to-station basis, as
distinguished from communications services which are designed to reach the general
public or the mass of the people.
As used with respect to P.D. No. 131, which requires all mass media facilities
to secure prior permission to operate from the Media Advisory Council, the statutory
definition, which would seem to include commercial telecommunications, will be
applicable.
2. The effects of the new Charter on the organization, management and
operation of mass media.
In view of Article XV, Sec. 7(1) of the Constitution, above-quoted, mass
media must be owned by Philippine citizens, or by corporations or associations, the
capital stock of which is wholly owned by said citizens. Also the management of
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mass media, which includes all officers appointed or elected or otherwise authorized
to manage or direct its affairs, like the president or manager, should be citizens of the
Philippines. Membership of aliens in the governing body, like the board of directors
or board of trustees, of any mass media enterprise is thus prescribed.
The provisions of the Anti-Dummy Law are likewise pertinent. Section 2-A
thereof reads:
"Sec. 2-A. Any person, corporation, or association which, having in its
name or under its control, a right, franchise, privilege, property or business, the
exercise or enjoyment of which is expressly reserved by the Constitution or the
laws to citizens of the Philippines or of any other specific country, or to
corporations or associations at least sixty per centum of the capital of which is
owned by such citizens, permits or allows the use, exploitation or enjoyment
thereof by a person, corporation or association not possessing the requisites
prescribed by the Constitution or the laws of the Philippines; or leases, or in any
other way transfers or conveys said right, franchise, privilege, property or
business to a person, corporation or association not otherwise qualified under
the Constitution, or the provisions of the existing laws; or in any manner
permits or allows any person, not possessing the qualifications required by the
Constitution or existing laws to acquire, use, exploit or enjoy a right, franchise,
privilege, property or business, the exercise and enjoyment of which are
expressly reserved by the Constitution or existing laws to citizens of the
Philippines or of any other specific country, to intervene in the management,
operation, administration or control thereof, whether as an officer, employment
or laborer therein, with or without remuneration except technical personnel
whose employment may be specifically authorized by the President of the
Philippines upon recommendation of the Department Head concerned, if any,
and any person who knowingly aids, assists or abets in the planning,
consummation or perpetration of any of the acts herein above enumerated shall
be punished by imprisonment or not less than five or more than fifteen years,
and by a fine of not less than the value of the right, franchise, or privilege
enjoyed or acquired in violation of the provisions thereof but in no case less
than five thousand pesos: Provided, however, That the president, managers, or
persons in charge of corporations, associations, or partnerships violating the
provisions of this section shall be criminally liable in lieu thereof: Provided,
further, That any person, corporation or association shall, in addition to the
penalty imposed herein, forfeit such right, franchise, privilege, and the property
or business enjoyed or acquired in violation of the provisions of this Act." (C.A.
No. 108, as amended by R.A. No. 134.)

Pursuant to the above section, aliens cannot be employed in any capacity in


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mass media enterprises, the only exception being employment of technical personnel
with previous authority of the President. (See King vs. Hernaez, 4 SCRA 792 [1962];
Op. No. 17, s. 1955.)
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3. Regarding Question No. 3, your attention is invited to a confidential


Memorandum submitted by the undersigned to the President, dated November 6,
1973, which deals with the same subject-matter. Copy of said Memorandum, which I
trust you will keep confidential until cleared by the President, is enclosed for your
guidance.

Very truly yours,


(SGD.) VICENTE ABAD SANTOS
Secretary of Justice

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