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Dumaguete City, PhilippinesFriday, August 19, 2011
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Text message measure
gets varied reaction


Members of the media in Dumaguete City have reacted to the proposed ordinance regulating the reading or broadcasting and printing of libelous, unverified and anonymous text messages, phone calls, and web postings to the public using radio airtime, television shows and newspapers.

The proposed ordinance authored by Board Member Arnie Teves was passed on first reading during the regular session of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan this week.

The president of the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas Negros Oriental chapter, Roy August Bustillo, said the Philippine Broadcast Code of 2007 carries the prohibition or limitation to be followed by broadcasters. There is no need to make a local ordinance or crafting a law, he said.

Dumaguete Press Club president and DYWC anchor, Irish Indira Requiron, said the media is the only vehicle through which people can be massively informed about what their government is doing. Even the Ombudsman accepts anonymous tipsters.

Alex Rey Pal, publisher of Dumaguete Metropost and correspondent of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, said it is a good law to ensure decency but it’s unfortunate that it has to be a politician who thought about it.

Media outlets should take full responsibility for the text messages they read or print. People are emboldened by anonymity but the choice to read the message on air was not the texter’s but the announcers, he said.

John Dx Lapid of The Freeman said he is in favor of the ordinance. Regulation of whatever is broadcast on radio and written in the newspaper is part of the ethics of every media practitioner. It is necessary to regulate text messages read over the radio not just an ordinance, but by the station itself or the KBP. He admitted, though, that if the ordinance will be approved it can be used to abuse against broadcasters.

Irma Faith Pal, managing editor of Dumaguete Metropost and professor of the College of Mass Communication of Silliman University, said that the proposed ordinance may be laudable, but it is already given in journalism ethics that practitioners are required to check sources, verify facts before publication, airing and make sure it does not malign others without basis.

“We don’t need a law to implement what’s already enshrined in our code. We just have to police our own ranks,” she said.

Teves said the ordinance does not aim at curtailing the freedom of the media, but only to safeguard the welfare of the public including the members of the media themselves from libelous and malicious text messages and phone calls.

He said the proposed ordinance will help prevent media practitioners, especially radio announcers, from being harassed due to unverified information.*MA



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