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Rappler, too, has similar right re access to livefeed of debates

/ 12:14 AM March 02, 2016

This is in reaction to Narciso Reyes Jr.’s commentary titled “To kill a ‘democracy,’” (Opinion, 2/26/16).

He mentioned the suit in the Supreme Court, filed by Rappler, a social media news website, against Commission on Elections Chair Andres Bautista, over a “highly questionable move to limit election coverage to the big established media networks.”

To Reyes, the Comelec’s actions affect an “estimated 48 million Filipinos who get their daily news from tablets, smartphones and computers,” by “depriv(ing) them of maximum election news,” which in turn “den(ies) them information and insights that could make them better informed citizens.” He also stated that “[t]his is the first time since the post-Marcos era that a government agency awarded exclusive rights to a public event, including the power to police all media, to the titans of television.”

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With due respect to Reyes, he might want to check his facts before he pontificates.

It is a fact, for instance, that Rappler is not exactly a small player. Some would even say that it is one of those very “titans” Reyes refers to. Rappler, again as a matter of fact, is one of the media organizations that freely and voluntarily entered into—along with other lead networks—the memorandum of agreement (MOA) for the conduct of the debates. It appears now, that the issue boils down to the right to livestream the debates.

Under this MOA, the debates may be shown on other websites but are subject to the consent of the lead networks that produced them. Thus, the matter of allowing other lead networks to livestream the debates is for the lead networks to resolve among themselves in accordance with the MOA. It is important to keep in mind that Rappler, as a lead network for the vice presidential debate on April 10, 2016, will also have the right to similarly limit the other lead networks’ access to their live feed of the event.

It is likewise a fact that all lead networks sponsoring the debates have their own online and social media platforms that are freely accessible to the Filipino people, via their tablets, smartphones and computers. Indeed, the livestream of GMA 7 and Inquirer.net of the first leg of the debates in Cagayan de Oro City was made immediately and freely available on YouTube. And if Reyes had a Twitter account, he could not have possibly missed the hashtag #PiliPinasDebates2016, which became the top trending topic worldwide, generating 1.3 million tweets.

Finally, it is also a fact worth mentioning that despite its staunch support, the Comelec is not spending a single centavo for the production or staging of these debates.

The Comelec is proud that the debates are generating the needed discourse among voters for them to make informed choices when they vote. Rest assured that the Comelec will do its utmost to keep all citizens aware of the relevant issues in this election period.

—JAMES JIMENEZ, director IV, education and information department, Commission on Elections

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TAGS: Comelec, presidential debates, Rappler
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