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Mix of business and politics in media ownership poses high risk to democracy

An informed citizenry is vital in a functioning democracy.  

In this age of mis- and disinformation, the media, from where the public gets their information, plays an important role in the survival, or the flourishing, of a democracy. It is therefore important that the public knows who owns the media.

Based on that principle, VERA Files and the Germany-based NGO Global Media Registry, with funding provided by  the German Embassy Manila, undertook the updating of the Philippine Media Ownership Monitor (MOM-PH) database compiled seven years ago in partnership with Reporters Without Borders-Germany.

The updated MOM-PH can be accessed here:

MOM is an international effort to promote transparency and accountability in media ownership. The initiative seeks to advance media literacy among audiences through a publicly available and constantly updated database of media owners, but also to empower regulators, academia and civil society actors to address the issue of media concentration.

While the Philippine media landscape has remained the same in some parts over the past years, the shutdown of once broadcast media giant ABS-CBN in 2020 brought about a vast change.

Significant findings of the MOM research, which covered online, TV, radio, and print media, include: 

  • Philippine mass media remain predominantly owned and controlled by a handful of conglomerates and influential families with an interest favorable to their political and economic interests;
  • Media ownership concentration raises concerns about media diversity, freedom of expression, and democracy. While an antitrust body has been established by the Fair Competition Act (2014) – the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) – which monitors, prevents, and breaks up media monopolies, regulatory safeguards to prevent media ownership concentration remain scant;
  • The existing regulatory safeguards do not prevent the practice of layering company structures to hide ultimate beneficial owners. While this complexity can be unraveled, it requires extensive investigative research, time, and resources.

The MOM-PH site will be updated as often as significant developments in Philippine media ownership occur.

VERA Files is a nonprofit media organization founded by veteran journalists committed to advance excellence in journalism by engaging in research-intensive, high-impact reports in multiple formats, fact checking and providing training and mentorship to journalists.

GMR is a non-profit social enterprise based in Germany that promotes transparency, accountability and diversity in the information space. It provides services, analysis and solutions for newsrooms, regulators and policy makers, and for all stakeholders that engage with the media industry. As one of its flagship programs, the GMR publishes the Media Ownership Monitor in more than 30 countries worldwide. New editions will be released in Germany and Moldova later this year.