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TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND BROADCAST ATTORNEYS OF THE PHILS. VS.

COMELEC [289 SCRA 337; G.R. NO. 132922; 21 APR 1998]


Facts: Petitioner Telecommunications and Broadcast Attorneys of the Philippines, Inc.
(TELEBAP) is an organization of lawyers of radio and television broadcasting companies. It was
declared to be without legal standing to sue in this case as, among other reasons, it was not able to
show that it was to suffer from actual or threatened injury as a result of the subject law. Petitioner
GMA Network, on the other hand, had the requisite standing to bring the constitutional challenge.
Petitioner operates radio and television broadcast stations in the Philippines affected by the
enforcement of Section 92, B.P. No. 881. Petitioners challenge the validity of Section 92, B.P. No.
881 which provides: Comelec Time- The Commission shall procure radio and television time
to be known as the Comelec Time which shall be allocated equally and impartially among the
candidates within the area of coverage of all radio and television stations. For this purpose, the
franchise of all radio broadcasting and television stations are hereby amended so as to provide
radio or television time, free of charge, during the period of campaign. Petitioner contends that
while Section 90 of the same law requires COMELEC to procure print space in newspapers and
magazines with payment, Section 92 provides that air time shall be procured by COMELEC free
of charge. Thus it contends that Section 92 singles out radio and television stations to provide free
air time. Petitioner claims that it suffered losses running to several million pesos in providing
COMELEC Time in connection with the 1992 presidential election and 1995 senatorial election
and that it stands to suffer even more should it be required to do so again this year. Petitioners
claim that the primary source of revenue of the radio and television stations is the sale of air time
to advertisers and to require these stations to provide free air time is to authorize unjust taking of
private property. According to petitioners, in 1992 it lost P22,498,560.00 in providing free air
time for one hour each day and, in this years elections, it stands to lost P58,980,850.00 in view
of COMELECs requirement that it provide at least 30 minutes of prime time daily for such.
Issue: Whether of not Section 92 of B.P. No. 881 denies radio and television broadcast companies
the equal protection of the laws. Whether or not Section 92 of B.P. No. 881 constitutes taking of
property without due process of law and without just compensation.
Held: Petitioners argument is without merit. All broadcasting, whether radio or by television
stations, is licensed by the government. Airwave frequencies have to be allocated as there are
more individuals who want to broadcast that there are frequencies to assign. Radio and television
broadcasting companies, which are given franchises, do not own the airwaves and frequencies
through which they transmit broadcast signals and images. They are merely given the temporary
privilege to use them. Thus, such exercise of the privilege may reasonably be burdened with the
performance by the grantee of some form of public service. In granting the privilege to operate
broadcast stations and supervising radio and television stations, the state spends considerable
public funds in licensing and supervising them. The argument that the subject law singles out
radio and television stations to provide free air time as against newspapers and magazines which
require payment of just compensation for the print space they may provide is likewise without
merit. Regulation of the broadcast industry requires spending of public funds which it does not do
in the case of print media. To require the broadcast industry to provide free air time for

COMELEC is a fair exchange for what the industry gets. As radio and television broadcast
stations do not own the airwaves, no private property is taken by the requirement that they provide
air time to the COMELEC.