Right of Reply: Discussing SB 2150 and HB 3306

There are existing proposals in both chambers for a right of reply. In essence, the right of reply means that all persons who are accused directly or indirectly of committing or having committed or of intending to commit any crime or offense defined by law or are criticized by innuendo, suggestion or rumor for any lapse in behavior in public or private life shall have the right to reply to the charges published or printed in newspapers, magazines, newsletters or publications circulated commercially or for free, or to criticisms aired or broadcast over radio, television, websites, or through any electronic device.

The reply, which shall not be longer than the article/discussion replied to, shall be published in the same space free of charge. Penalties, including imprisonment, await violators.

Full text of both Senate Bill 2150 and House Bill 3306 is here.

So, any thoughts? Let’s discuss.

7 comments

  1. such bill is considered prior restrain which constitutes violation of freedom of expression as guaranteed under the constitution.

  2. no matter how i try to view it objectively, i can’t figure out how public policy can be best served by legislating a “right of reply” bill in the Congress. First of all the proposed legislation is curtailment of press freedom in disguise and has a “chilling effect” on the mass media. The point is we already have libel laws to protect those who are maligned or defamated through publicity, so why still require media at its own expense to provide an equal space for a reply, isn’t that asking too much? if the aggrieved party is a public figure then it’s tantamount to a double whammy because aside from the media being taxpayers paying taxes to the government, another burden would be added, that is, a complimentary space for a reply, for whatever its worth, courtesy of media. The resulting effect of this anomaly is that media would now disengage from its traditional role of being a watchdog particularly of public officials in order to avoid incurring concomitant costs should the aggrieved party decide to exercise this right. The bottom line is we have now a media afraid to speak its mind on critical issues and wrongdoings of public officials will go unreported. Sounds really scary, isn’t it? My conclusion is: a free press with its occasional aberrations is better than a muzzled press.

  3. I think the right to reply bill tries to protect the masses not just mass media. Mass media is already enjoying certain degree of freedom and giving the masses this right does not curtail mass media’s freedom of expression.

    I heard one radio commentator in Cebu who strongly opposed the bill. He claimed the the bill will curtail his freedom of expression. But many affected parties of his commentaries prefer not to reply on his commentaries because of fear of being attacked again. Isn’t the commentator himself curtail the freedom of affected individuals to ‘reply’?

    How many innocent family members were psychologically murdered by irresponsible writers and broadcasters but cannot do anything except to lurk in silence because they don’t have privilege to talkback?

    For responsible writers and broadcaster, they have nothing to fear. Their freedom will still be intact. The bill don’t slice it.

    Actually, the biggest problem is – how to write the reply. Just give the right to reply and don’t teach them how to write the reply and they may not bother to reply at all. (sounds funny?)

  4. The one being attacked has an opportunity to fire back. Through right of reply, the battlefield will make fair and square.

  5. i believed that there’s no prior restraint on the “right of reply” bill because there”s no censorship or prohibition on what to broadcast or publish..but i think there’s a violation of one of the aspects of freedom of expression, which is “freedom from subsequent punishment” because the bill will penalized publisher, editor-in-chief, etc.,if they do not provide an opportunity to reply to the aggrieved parties, which in effect penalizes them for what they have publish or broadcast…

  6. I don’t think it will work well with live media like the radio and TV ‘coz the time is very limited for each TV/radio program. For example, if Anthony Taberna criticizes a politician in his Dos-por-Dos progrma in DZMM which runs for, iirc, an hour, an the politician hears it, then the latter will call and voice his side of the story. What if the guy talks a lot? What will happen to the show? Can the radio/TV host cut the phone even if the politician has not yet sufficiently explained his part? With regard to those published, right to reply for free?? That’s taking of property without due process. Besides, this will have an adverse effect on the media ‘coz they will always be bearing the risk of losing air time and newspaper space in favor of the guys invoking the right of reply. Also, it is very prone to be abused during the campaign period.

  7. I think its just about time to pass the RORB to also broaden the scope of the right of expression not to be only confined to the journalist and media men but also to the people who can also have the chance to express themselves and to defend themselves if ever they are maligned.

    We are studying this bill as part of our proposal and its so nice to know that their is this blog site.

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