This is a report about us, the media.
A joint undertaking of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) and the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), it tackles the decision of the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP), the national association of radio and television stations, to censure and levy fines on three media giants for broadcasting information that it ruled could have compromised police efforts to rescue the hostages during the day-long hostage-taking incident at the Quirino Grandstand on Aug. 23, 2010.
Ten months, nine lives, and a flurry of finger-pointing and paper work later, the controversy over the media coverage of the 2010 Luneta hostage-taking incident has come down to feeble fines of P30,000, and a virtual slap on the wrist.
The KBP Standards Authority, in its ruling dated Dec. 15, 2010, ordered the three media agencies – ABS CBN Broadcasting Corp. Channel 2, Associated Broadcasting Corp. Channel 5 (now known as TV5), and Radyo Mo Network (RMN, which was known before as Radio Mindanao Network) to each pay P30,000 in penalty for violations of the KBP Broadcast Code. The networks had filed and lost their appeals before the KBP’s 13-member Standards Authority last April.
In addition to RMN’s fine, news anchors Michael Rogas and Erwin Tulfo were ordered to pay an additional fine of P15,000 and P10,000, respectively, for getting in the way of negotiations between police and hostage-taker Rolando Mendoza. Too, the KBP ordered RMN to reprimand Rogas and Tulfo for their role in the coverage.
Yet apart from these three media giants, the KBP Standards Authority had wanted to include a fourth – GMA Network, Inc. Channel 7, which has also faced criticism over its coverage of the hostage-taking incident. The KBP Standards Authority has expressed frustration over its inability to regulate broadcasters who are no longer members of the association. This is exactly the situation of GMA-7, which withdrew its membership from the KBP in September 2003 after a tiff over commercial loading limits set by the association.
The PCIJ story summarizes the findings of the KBP Standards Authority, as well as the statements and appeals made by the media agencies. It comes with PDF copies of all eight documents relevant to this story.
The CMFR story looks at how the KBP decision and processes raise doubts about the future of self-regulation in the Philippine media, and cites the need for KBP to review its mindset as far as non-KBP members are concerned, “for no other reason than the fact that public interest requires it.” It comes with a sidebar on “Approved Amendments to Article 6, Crime and Crisis Situations, KBP Broadcast Code.”