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Comelec retains airtime limits for candidates

The Comelec unanimously decided to retain the television and radio airtime limits imposed on candidates for the 2013 elections, Chairman Sixto Brillantes said Tuesday on his Twitter account. The retention is stated in a new Comelec resolution – Resolution 9631. National candidates, therefore, are allowed a total of 120 minutes television airtime and 180 minutes radio airtime, while 60 minutes and 90 minutes, respectively, are given local candidates.   Media organizations, however, have yet to receive a copy of the resolution. The Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas and GMA Network Inc, which is not a member of the KBP, have opposed Resolution 9615.   Brillantes also elaborated on the mass media limitations imposed on candidates.   Resolution 9615 requires media organizations to notify Comelec, through the appropriate Regional Election Director (RED), or if the media entity is Metro Manila-based, the Education and Information Department that a candidate is to be interviewed.   “If such prior notice is not feasible or practicable, the notice shall be sent within twenty-four (24) hours from the first broadcast or publication,” the resolution stated.   Covered in the resolution are appearances by a candidate on any bona fide newscasts, news interviews, news documentaries, if the appearance of the candidate is incidental to the presentation of the subject or subjects covered by the news documentary, or on-the-spot coverage of bona fide news events, including but not limited to events sanctioned by the Comelec, political conventions, and similar activities.   The resolution said that broadcasters, in connection with the presentation of newscasts, news interviews, news documentaries, and on-the-spot coverage of news events, will be liable if the rule is not followed.   Right of reply As promised by Comelec, Resolution 9631 also contained the procedures on how a candidate or political parties can avail of their “right to reply”.   It stated that registered political parties, party-list groups or coalitions and bona fide candidates may invoke the right to reply by submitting within a non-extendible period of 48 hours from first broadcast or publication, a formal verified claim against the media outlet to the Comelec, through the appropriate RED.   The claim should include a detailed enumeration of the circumstances and occurrences which warrant the invocation of the right of reply and must be accompanied by supporting evidence, such as a copy of the publication or recording of the television or radio broadcast.   If the supporting evidence is not yet available due to circumstances beyond the power of the claimant, the latter shall supplement his claim as soon as the supporting evidence becomes available.   The claimant must likewise furnish a copy of the claim and its attachments to the media outlet concerned prior to the filing of the claim with the Comelec.   The resolution further stated that the Comelec, through the RED, shall review the verified claim within 48 hours, and if circumstances warrant, will notify the media outlet involved for appropriate action.  The media organization, then, has 48 hours in which to submit its response to the RED, explaining the action it has taken to address the claim.   The media outlet must likewise furnish a copy of the said response to the party invoking the right to reply.   But if the claimant insists that the complaint was not addressed, he or she may file the appropriate petition before the Comelec or its field offices, which shall be endorsed to the Clerk of the Commission. — DVM, GMA News