Media group, US Embassy team up to promote ethics among 'blocktimers'
A Philippine media group has partnered with the US Embassy in Manila to promote responsible journalism among “blocktimers” who, although most are not trained journalists, are also vulnerable to threats and attacks.
Blocktiming is common in Philippine broadcasting in which individuals or groups buy “blocks” of airtime to produce programs independent of radio stations and television networks.
According to the Center for Media Freedom & Responsibility (CMFR), some 20 blocktimers have been killed in the line of duty since 1986, the latest being Aldion Layao of dxRP in Davao. He was killed last April.
On Sept. 17, CMFR and the US Embassy signed a grant agreement to conduct seminar-workshop on news media ethics for blocktimers. The project begins this month and is expected to be completed by February next year, the US Embassy said in a statement on Monday.
CMFR said the program is designed to encourage radio stations and television networks to make training in ethics and professional standards part of their policy.
Red Batario, executive director of Center for Community Journalism and Development, was optimistic on the project.
“I have not seen the agreement but I would suppose a framework of ethics and standards for blocktimers can help address some of the professional issues that bedevil the ranks of Philippine broadcasters,” he said in a text message to GMA News Online.
He said this was not the first time the US Embassy gave a grant to media development organizations.
“I think it is how the project implementer uses the funds that matter. Of course, all sovereign states have their own interests to protect and promote and grant giving is one way to do that,” Batario said.
The US Embassy grant is made possible by the US Department of State through its Democracy Small Grants Program.
CMFR will use the funds to conduct a study on blocktiming in the Philippines to determine the extent of the practice and the training needs of blocktimers.
A two-and-a-half day seminar workshop is planned to address media ethics in the practice of blocktiming in the country.
Kat Raymundo of CMFR told GMA News Online that they are still in the process of researching for the study they will conduct.
“Nasa preparation stage pa lang kami kaya wala pang definite na detalye,” she said. — Amita O. Legaspi and Michaela del Callar/KBK, GMA News
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