While GMA Network, Inc. (GMA) strongly supports the enactment of the proposed freedom of information (FOI) law, it has expressed its opposition to the inclusion of a right of reply provision in the FOI bill now pending before Congress.
In a letter addressed to Eastern Samar Representative and Chairman of the House Committee on Public Information Ben P. Evardone, GMA Vice President for Legal Affairs Ma. Luz P. Delfin stated that to force media to devote mileage – whether it be on print, on air, or online – to anyone who demands an opportunity to reply, under pain of sanctions, would curtail journalistic freedom and undermine editorial prerogative.
Delfin added that the right of reply would legislate “what media ought to air or publish instead of allowing media to report on more substantial news items of genuine public interest.”
She also said that most media practitioners – like GMA – still practice self-regulation, consistently observe a tradition of fairness and balance, and are guided by their own codes of ethics. And that there are agencies and mechanisms currently in place to ensure that media organizations adhere to the set guidelines of responsible and fair reporting.
In addition, Delfin pointed out that individuals affronted by negative reports have recourse to the courts as well as an overabundance of alternative media such as blogs, social networks, and government websites where grievances can be raised and addressed.
Delfin also noted that the right of reply proposal, which is “neatly inserted in the FOI bill,” has no relation to or connection with the FOI bill that is supposed to facilitate a more efficient delivery of information to the public. She referred to the right of reply proposal as merely a “rider seeking to pass legislative and public scrutiny in circumvention of the Constitution” after the same did not succeed enactment when separately proposed in Congress.