KBP to question Comelec’s airtime limits, prior notice, right of reply rules
MANILA, Philippines—Saying the public interest, editorial independence, and even the health of political candidates would be at stake, the president of the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas said on Wednesday that it would contest the Comelec rules on airtime limits, prior notice and the right to reply in the Supreme Court within the week.
Herman Basbaño, KBP president, said at the weekly forum at Club Filipino in San Juan City, that the association of broadcast companies would ask the high court to issue a temporary restraining order on the implementation of Comelec Resolution 9615, even if some of its provisions were amended following a presentation of opposing arguments from the KBP and GMA-7 on Jan. 31.
Under the amended resolution signed by the Comelec en banc on Thursday, the provision on “the prior notice rule—which requires television and radio stations to notify the poll body before conducting interviews of candidates—was reworded to reportedly allay fears from several members of the media that the rule would infringe on editorial independence.
The provision on the “right to reply” rule—which previously gave “all parties and bona fide candidates” who claim to have been attacked by rival candidates in the media equal media exposure—was also modified so it would not apply to all who complain.
The only provision that remained unchanged was the one imposing limits on the airtime of political advertisements of candidates—120 minutes for television, and 180 minutes for radio.
Basbaño said the organization decided to continue opposing the resolution, even with its amendments, because it did not address the organization’s primary concerns.
If the limits on airtime remain, for example, less information about running political candidates would reach the public, who would then be unable to make an informed decision about their votes during the elections, according to Basbaño.
“The public wants to hear the qualifications of candidates again and again…Arresting (excessive) spending (of political candidates) should not lead to the right of the people to get information from their candidates being sacrificed,” he said.
He added that the imposition of the limits would also affect the health of running candidates, who, unable to gain as much exposure in broadcast media, would then be forced to travel across the country to reach out to the voting population.
Despite the changes in the provisions on “the right-to-reply” and “prior notice,” Basbaño said that the provisions still “infringed on editorial prerogative,” an act tantamount to prior restraint.
He said members of the KBP board would meet during the day at the group’s headquarters in Makati City to discuss the details of the content of the TRO.
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