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[Newspoint] Not a nice way to go

Even before landing BusinessWorld, Pangilinan already had bought into the frontrunners on the daily-newspaper market – 10% in the Inquirer (which he has offered to sell in light of Ang's takeover) and at least 20% in the Star (his interest has since increased to constitute majority ownership). 

Spread rather thin across the business landscape but acquisitive still, both men are unable to escape each other as arch competitors. In fact, they fought not too long ago over the chance to land GMA-7, one of the only two profitable television networks (the other being ABS-CBN). Neither came out the winner, though; the network remains in the hands of the old owners, apparently unimpressed by either offer.

Whatever rivalry Pangilinan and Ang continue to carry on with, at any rate, is bound to be obscured by the polarizing politics of the times. The Inquirer sale itself reflects it. 

Indeed, a particular circumstance puts a particular twist to that sale: the paper has come under vicious and repetitious attacks from the president for its reporting and criticism. Collaterally, the owners have themselves got it, made to look over-opportunistic – “hypocritical” is the president’s own description – about the way they do business. Thus, the suspicion is fed that the owners decided to sell in hopes the president would stop picking on them.

The question is, Has Ang come to rescue the Inquirer and its tradition of independence or its bullied owners, or has he done so to further curry favor with the president? After all, he richly contributed to his electoral campaign.

At any rate, journalists had better not be so obsessed with freedom as to be impractical or useless. As we see, freedom is not itself immune to inflation and other market forces – and not immune as well to presidential bullying. 

But, while the press may only be as free as its proprietors allow it, freedom of expression, like any birthright, is not subject to bargaining. – Rappler.com