The Philippine Press Council
The Philippine Press Council was established in 1965 by the PPI. After being abolished from 1972 to 1986 during the period of martial law, it was revived in 1987. Currently it has 67 newspapers, including broadsheets, tabloids, dailies and weeklies in capital Manila and the provinces, registered as its members. While earlier the board was constituted only by journalists – editors of the member broadsheets, at present it also includes non-journalists like academics and representatives of the judiciary and business, apart from editors and publishers. The publishers designate staff editors to represent the newspaper in the council. Membership is granted to organisations, not individual journalists, and requires voluntary compliance of its code of ethics on the part of the member organisations. The council registers complaints against journalists of its member organisations in case of violation of code of conduct though it lacks the power to impose any formal penalty on the latter. Besides, the council also requires formal complaints against errant newspapers to initiate any action. Many journalists and media advocacy groups felt that these factors contribute to the challenges faced by the press council in enhancing the journalistic standard of the Philippine print media. Jose Paviat, executive director of the PPI, said in an interview that due to lack of awareness on the role of the press and press council, very few complaints are registered against newspapers that abuse professional standards. To boost the participation of the community in journalism, the council also encourages civic journalism and has helped establish Citizen Press Council. Besides, it has also organised interactive sessions with journalists, newspaper owners and advertisers to address pressing concerns like the commercialization of journalism, and also failing ethics among journalists. Details can be found on http://pressinstitute.blogspot.com/.
Citizen Press Council
Media advocacy groups like the CMFR have set up Citizen Press Councils in places like Cebu, Baguio and Palawan, of which the one in Cebu has been quite successful. Offering a public forum for discussion on media and related issues, these councils seek to make the public aware of the role of the press, hold the media accountable to the people and restore the faith in the institution. Apart from journalists, the citizen press council also includes members of academia and civil society to boost public participation. Luis V Teodoro of the CMFR said that the citizen press councils have helped in the process of making editors and journalists aware on the importance of self-regulation.
An association of broadcasters, the KBP is the self-regulatory body that enforces programming and journalistic codes for the radio and television. The KBP extends membership only to networks and currently has 130 members. Membership requires voluntary observance of the KBP codes though members have the option to quit. It also has a Standard Authority that hears, investigates complaints of violation of journalistic and programming codes and imposes penalties on KBP members. The penalties may extend to suspension or permanent disqualification of membership and fines. Since membership is voluntary there has been an instance where a major television pulled out of KBP failing to comply with the limit of advertisements in programmes, as set by the code. Rupert Nicdao, chairman of the KBP, said in an interview that monitoring of the television and radio channels becomes difficult, as a result of which violation of the code of ethics by members often goes unnoticed and unaddressed. To strengthen the process of monitoring a campaign called Tell KBP has been initiated where viewers and listeners are encouraged to report to the KBP if they find particular programmes offensive or unethical.
Philippines is among the very few countries in Asia that have witnessed the existence of an ombudsperson as part of efforts to make the media accountable to the public. Philippines Daily Inquirer experimented with the concept of a Readers’ Editor to set its ethical standards. However, its fourth appointee - journalist Lorna Kalaw Tirol who served the newspaper for two years - resigned in 2008. The post of readers’ editor in the Inquirer currently remains vacant. John Nerry said that the newspaper hugely benefited with the presence of a Readers’ Editor. Complaints, which otherwise may not have reached the editors, received due attention and response as a result of the presence of the Readers’ Editor.Back to top