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Senate approves bill amending law that protects journalists’ sources

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Senate approves bill amending law that protects journalists’ sources

Grace Poe

Sen. Grace Poe. (Photo from her office)

The Senate approved on Monday a bill amending Republic Act No. 53, commonly called the Sotto Law, which exempts publishers, editors, and reporters of any publication from revealing the source of published news or information obtained in confidence.

Voting 18-0, the Senate approved on third and final reading Senate Bill No.1255, which will extend the same protection to journalists in broadcast and online media, including foreign journalists.

The original law, which was passed 70 years ago, was authored by the late Sen. Vicente Yap Sotto, grandfather of Sen. Vicente Sotto III, the majority leader.

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The 70-year-old law applied only to journalists in print media, who were exempt from disclosing their suorces unless it would endanger the security of the state.

According to Sen. Grace Poe, sponsor of the bill: “Under our proposed measure, we shall expand the coverage of RA 53, as amended, to any publisher, owner or duly recognized or accredited journalist, writer, reporter, contributor, opinion writer, editor, manager, producer, news director, web master, cartoonist or media practitioner involved in the writing, editing, production and dissemination of news for mass circulation, of any print, broadcasts, wire service organization, or electronic mass media, including but not limited to the internet and cable TV and its variants.”

Poe, who is the chair of the Senate Committee on Public Information and Mass Media. noted that a lot of people also get their news from television, radio, and the internet.

Citing a 2012 survey by the TNS Global Market Research, she said 45 percent of 1,000 respondents from classes A to E connected through the internet, 37 percent listened to the radio, 12 percent read newspapers, and 4 percent read magazines. (Figures don’t add up to 100 percent due to rounding off.)

The bill was also filed by Sotto and Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV. /atm

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TAGS: confidentiality of journalists' sources, Grace Poe, Sotto Law
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