A privilege is separate from a right. A right in an inherent and irrevocable entitlement held by all citizens from the moment of their birth. Examples of these are the right to life and liberty, freedom from discrimination and arbitrary arrest, and freedom from torture.
In contrast, a privilege is a special entitlement granted by an authority that is separate from a right. Privileges, unlike rights, are not enjoyed by everyone. They are extras – extra immunity, extra advantages, extra opportunities, extra special power over others. A great example of this is a legislative franchise granted by the government to a broadcasting company which gives them the ability and permission to operate in the country.
And entitlement is when those granted privileges think that they deserve to have them, just because. When privileges are taken for granted and assumed to be inherent like rights, then we have a problem.
This is exactly what is happening with ABS CBN.
The media giant is one of the richest companies in the country. It got so rich because it sold information. Critical information was sold to people through news, entertainment was given through teleseryes. ABS CBN was allowed to profit off of their spread of information because Congress granted them a legislative broadcasting franchise 25 years ago. They were given a privilege and they used it to earn vast amounts of wealth.
But did they earn their privilege? Did their use of their advantage create good for the country or did it just line the pockets of the Lopez family and their fellow investors?
While Congress is debating this question as their wonder whether ABS CBN deserves to keep their privilege for another 25 years, one thing is for sure: the media corporation feels entitled to the privilege and the massive amounts of income it brings them.
The stench of privilege is obvious from how easily they align themselves with the right of press freedom, despite being a corporation worth billions. The legitimate threat to their franchise is being taken by them not as a criticism of their very flawed operations, but instead as an attack against their basic freedoms.
It’s simple: press freedom is separate from corporate interests. Media companies do not own information. The Filipino public is the only interest that must be preserved – even if this means going against powerful families and rich investors.
What ABS CBN is doing is throwing a tantrum like a spoiled brat.
Instead of looking inwards and accepting that they may have abused their granted power, they are taking this threat to their privilege as a violation of their rights. Instead of viewing the government as the authority which allowed them, a privately owned corporation, to operate, they are viewing it as an evil. Worse, they are pitting the Filipino public against their own government all so that they can keep their privilege.