Of What to Ask, Say and Broadcast in Radio or TV (part-2)

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By Art Tibaldo

Consumer Atbp.

Monday, May 12, 2014


PREVIOUSLY, I discussed the preliminaries of the 2007 Broadcast Code of the Philippines including the Preamble and the basic guidelines on what to ask and say when communicating with broadcast media. Following are part of the code that deals with Personal Attacks, Correcting Mistakes, Crime and Crisis Situations and Individual Rights.

Article 4, Section 1 of the code clearly discusses personal attacks on the honesty, integrity, or personal qualities of an identified person, institution or group on matters that have no bearing on the public interest. It is prohibited to malign, unfairly criticize or attack a person, natural or juridical and it is also prohibited to personal attacks against fellow broadcasters. When personal attacks against any person, institution or group are aired, that person, institution or group shall be given a fair opportunity to reply immediately in the same program, if possible, or at the earliest opportunity. If not, the opportunity to reply should be given in any other program under similar conditions. When a mistake has been broadcast, it must be acknowledged and rectified as soon as possible by stating the mistake and making the correction.

Under Article 6, Sec. 1, the coverage of crimes in progress or crisis situations such as hostage-taking or kidnapping shall not put lives in greater danger than what is already inherent in the situation. While the incident is going on, the station shall desist from showing or reporting the strategies, plans, and tactics employed by the authorities to resolve the situation including the positioning of forces, deployment of machine and equipment, or any other information that might jeopardize their operations or put lives in danger. Anchors, reporters, or other station personnel shall not act as negotiators or interfere in any way in negotiations conducted by the authorities. If asked to assist in the negotiations, they shall first notify station management and carefully weigh how their participation will affect their journalistic balance before getting involved. In 2010, the live and blow-by-blow media coverage of the Manila Quirino Grandstand hostage taking influenced the decision of the perpetrator and provoked intervention attempts by law enforcers making it one of the most glaring developments in Philippine media.

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The KBP Code stresses that media coverage should avoid inflicting undue shock and pain to families and loved ones of victims of crimes, crisis situations, disasters, accidents, and other tragedies. The identity of victims of crimes or crisis situations in progress shall not be announced until the situation has been resolved or their names have been released by the authorities. The names of fatalities should be aired only when their next of kin have been notified or their names released, by the authorities. The coverage of crime or crisis situations shall not provide vital information or offer comfort or support to the perpetrators. Stations are encouraged to adopt standard operating procedures (SOP’s) consistent with the KBP’s code to govern the conduct of their news personnel during the coverage of crime and crisis situations.

Persons who are taken into custody by authorities as victims or for allegedly committing private crimes shall not be identified, directly or indirectly -- unless a formal complaint has already been filed against them. They shall not be subjected to undue shame and humiliation, such as showing them in indecent or vulgar acts and poses.

In Article 7 of the Code, the right to privacy of individuals shall be respected. Intrusion into purely private or personal matters which have no bearing on the public interest is prohibited. Persons affected by tragedy or grief shall be treated with sensitivity, respect and discretion. They should be allowed to suffer their grief in private. A news coverage must not violate nor interfere with an individual’s right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. The code also mentions that care and sound discretion should be exercised in disclosing the identities of persons, by face or by name, so as not to harm their or their families' reputation and safety.

Further, the broadcast of material showing arrested or detained persons being physically assaulted or verbally abused in a manner that demeans or humiliates them is prohibited. No broadcast personnel involved in the coverage of arrested or detained persons shall encourage or exhort the commission of violence against the arrested person or detainee. Sec. 7 of the Article states that telephone calls or interviews must not be aired without informing the other party beforehand. Neophyte reporters can always consult and ask for direction and guidance from their network and senior reporters on matters that may be vague, sensitive or delicate to broadcast. My rule is, if you don’t understand and cannot comprehend the matter at hand, do not disseminate it especially with the popular media.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on May 13, 2014.

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