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We strive to correct mistakes, keep biases in check –ABS-CBN news

Responding to accusations of biased reporting, an official of ABS-CBN's news division on Monday admitted that while their reportage was far from perfect, they always corrected their mistakes and kept "biases in check."

"Since our return to the air in 1986, we have endeavored to perform our duty as a news organization. As professional journalists, we strive to keep biases in check and to report on newsworthy events, persons and issues in an accurate, fair and balanced manner," said ABS-CBN head of Integrated News and Current Affairs Ging Reyes during a House of Representatives joint panel hearing on the ABS-CBN franchise issue.

"Pero tulad ng ibang bahagi ng aming kumpanya, hindi kami perpekto. Walang news organization ang perpekto. Sa kabila ng pag-iingat at pagbabantay ay inaamin naming nagkakamali rin kami. Gayunpaman, agad din kaming umaaksyon para itama ang mali," Reyes added.

Reyes said mechanisms had been put in place to ensure that issues and complaints in their reportage were addressed.

At the company level, one of these mechanisms was an "independent network ombudsman" which was tasked to receive, investigate, and make recommendations on complaints against news personnel.

These recommendations were acted on by the news management "in a timely manner."

"At the news division level, we have a standards and practices unit that likewise ensures that our journalists adhere to our own code of ethics and observe the highest professional and ethical standards," Reyes testified.

Cut off

Reyes also pointed out that the shutdown of the network after the National Telecommunications Commission issued a cease and desist order had deprived more than 69 million Filipinos access to the information, analysis, commentary, and public services offered by ABS-CBN.

"It has cut off our reach, such as two out of three viewers are unable to watch our news programs," she said.

Nevertheless, ABS-CBN continued to strive to deliver news and information to the public, especially amid the threat of COVID-19, Reyes said.

"In this most trying of times, we continue to deliver the news each day knowing that it as an opportunity and a privilege, not just to be a witness to history, but to be a force for good," she added.

The House Committee on Legislative Franchises and on Good Government and Public Accountability began hearing the bills granting another 25-year franchise to ABS-CBN after the House leadership decided to drop the measure that would supposedly give the network a provisional franchise until October 31, 2020.

Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, himself an author of the provisional franchise bill, said the ABS-CBN franchise issue had become "so divisive" and was taking up time even as there were more pressing matters to discuss such as that of COVID-19 response measures.

He, however, vowed to have a fair and comprehensive hearings on the franchise at the committee level. — DVM, GMA News