Media coverage restrictions cause confusion

Central Luzon secured a 1-0 victory over Central Visayas in the Boys' Secondary Football match held at the Cebu City Sports Center on Thursday, July 11, 2024
Central Luzon secured a 1-0 victory over Central Visayas in the Boys' Secondary Football match held at the Cebu City Sports Center on Thursday, July 11, 2024(Photo by Amper Campaña)

RESTRICTIONS in the coverage of the Palarong Pambansa venues have created confusion among reporters covering the national sporting event on Thursday, July 11, 2024.

Department of Education (DepEd) officials denied having issued a directive restricting to limiting the access of the press to all sports venues.

However, as early as Wednesday, July 10, reporters covering basketball and volleyball were already informed that media’s access is limited to the bleachers area (safe zone).

Reporters are not allowed access to the courtside playing venues based on the notice outside the venue.

In the PalaroCebuPIO-Media-DepEd Messenger group chat, reporters of CDN Digital, Freeman and SunStar Cebu were also restricted from covering the volleyball game in the courtside area.

The notice said that only IDs with A1, A2-A, A2-C, A3 and A4 have access to the courtside playing venues.

Local media outlets were given A6 access.

The Freeman’s Caecent Magsumbol said she was later allowed entry to the courtside playing venue after questioning the guidelines.

She, however, said that the problem now is the results of the games. “Ang uban dili i-share...depende sa team nga makasabot (Some will not share...depends on the team that understands),” Magsumbol said.

‘Safe zone’

DepEd Cebu City Assistant Superintendent Adolf Aguilar, in an interview Thursday, stressed that media personnel are allowed to cover the events for Palarong Pambansa but only in the “safe zone” for the safety of the athletes.

“We cannot compromise the safety of our learners for that. Mao nay angayan ninyong sabton. It’s not just about your story, it’s about the safety of athletes participating (We cannot compromise the safety of our learners for that. That’s what you should understand. It’s not just about your story, it’s about the safety of athletes participating),” he said.

Aguilar clarified that the playing venues, particularly the bench areas, are free to all spectators, including media personnel, however, access to the courtside is limited.

Only in the designated area, or the “safe zone,” the media personnel can cover the games, he stressed.

“Courtside is for the safety of our athletes. Alangan mo pasagdan mo ana sa ilalom sa ana mga ring. Dili gud na siya gi-allow. You are in the bleachers area, bisag asa nga international sports competition, ang media should be in the proper place. You cannot roam around the sports venues as you wish asa mupwesto, but you are not restricted to cover all events (Courtside is for the safety of our athletes. It’s not allowed for you to cover there. You should be in the bleacher’s area. Even in international sports competitions, the media should be in the proper place. You cannot roam around the sports venues as you wish, but you are not restricted to cover all events),” explained Aguilar.

These “safe zones” are along the bleachers, outside the court railings, as long as media will not enter the court.

“That’s why there is a safe zone. The media can cover within the safe zone. It depends on what competition requires a safe zone,” said Aguilar in Cebuano.

He specified that the media can request the designated tournament directors to cover the events from a closer vantage point of the game.

“Imagine if 200 of you cover a court. What will happen to the games? So there is a specific location, and the specific location will be your determination as to where is the good vantage point for you,” said Aguilar in Cebuano.

‘Not hiding anything’

Aguilar also stressed that they are not hiding anything from the media.

“Ngano man ming gatago sa Palaro. What are we hiding for, in fact, even before, the oval was completed, you are allowed entry to the oval, you are given access to what is happening in the oval, we are not covering anything (Why are we hiding in Palaro, what are we hiding for, in fact, even before, the oval was completed, you are allowed entry to the oval, you are given access to what is happening in the oval, we are not covering anything),” said Aguilar.

He added: “Does the angle of the camera change the perspective of the people seeing the errors or faults of the games? I think it does not.”

He also said: “The general directive is that media can cover the events of the Department of Education because media is our partner in terms of disseminating information to the public, but the other note to that is that media should be placed in an area that is safe for both the spectators and the athletes participating in the games.”

Aguilar also said that in all sports, everybody, including him, should watch the games from a distance that will not compromise the health and safety of the athletes participating in the games.

“There’s no such issuance that media are restricted, but they are not to cover in the courtside, kananing kilid gyud sa (at the side of) court, because of the free zone,” said Aguiar.

Aguilar explained that as a department, “our number one thrust is to ensure the safety and protection of learners participating in the games. That is why in every playing venue, there are learners-protection-officers that will ensure that the rights and welfare of learners are protected during the Palarong Pambansa’.”

He also added an example, “in archery, I’ll let you go to the target bat and position yourself, you don’t like that, we’ll put you down because you’ll be hit by an arrow. Then blame the organizer when you will be hit by a ball.”

Aguilar also reiterated that DepEd has a coverage team but is not exclusive.

“Our media coverage is not a media coverage, it’s a live streaming coverage that provides an opportunity for viewers, for parents not in Cebu to be able to view the games,” Aguilar said.

“Our camerapersons are far from the courts. Even camerapersons are not given access inside the courts,” he added.

Meanwhile, spectators are advised to refrain from roaming around the courtside area of any games or events of the Palarong Pambansa for safety concerns and to not disrupt the games.

Aguilar clarified that the playing venues, particularly the bench areas, are free to all spectators, including media personnel, however, access to the courtside is limited. (With EHP)

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