PHILLIPINES: Does Right of Reply LIMIT Freedom of the Press?

 As the proposed ‘Freedom of Information’ (FOI) law is pending before the Philippine Congress, its hotly contested provision – the “Right of Reply” – is being openly opposed by GMA Network Inc., one the largest media networks in the country.

GMA argued in a letter to the chairman of the House Committee on Public Information that while it strongly supports the passage of the FOI law, its inclusion of the right of reply provision would be detrimental to freedom of speech.  According to GMA, it would be akin to legislating what the media should publish, thus hindering journalistic freedom and editorial prerogative.

The “Right of Reply” provision provides a lawful right for anyone to demand a space to reply in the same paper, airwave, or site that he/she was offended by while receiving the same coverage as the offending article, free of charge.

The network also pointed out that the Filipino media currently self-regulates, upholding its own internal code of ethics. Media organizations like GMA have always strived for fair and responsible reporting.  Offended parties already possess more than enough tools to reply to media content; they can sue for libel or use blogs sites and alternative media to voice their reply.

This provision was proposed as a separate bill before, but was shot down after intense clamor from media organizations calling it unconstitutional.


SOURCE: The Philippine Star

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