The Role of Radio in the Philippine Elections

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It’s less than a week to go before the elections, I am a TV junkie, and whenever big events take place, I would always turn on the TV at all times to keep abreast of the latest development. But for most us who will be on the streets to vote, there is little chance to sneak into TV coverage.

Radio will be my best resort. Despite visual absence, radio is powerful a medium in covering events like the elections. Unlike TV, where only limited areas can be covered, due to limitations on equipment such as camera, outside broadcast vans, radio can accommodate more reporters which translates to more areas covered, more reports, and more information for the people.

I will be voting in Mindanao, where I am registered, so it is important for me to know what is happening. Portability is another edge radio has. While you need to be stationary to watch elections coverage on TV, you can listen to radio while you are on the go using your cell phone or a media gadget.

The best thing about radio is that it’s local. Local content means relevant information to the listeners. I can’t think of a better medium that could help me keep in the loop on Monday.

As for its role in the elections, radio just needs to be straightforward, fair, and factual. We as listeners need to be vigilant though. Let’s be mindful of any bias exposure of candidates during the day of the elections. The COMELEC has been commissioned to supervise and neutralize media usage. But it cannot handle everything by itself. (Republic Act  No. 9006 Section 6.4- 6.5)

We can also participate in providing content to radio entities. In all radio networks across the archipelago, there have been volunteers commissioned to scoop, gather and deliver news reports. I have been privileged to participate in the 2004 coverage by a large broadcast network and experienced first hand feeding live situational report to the radio station.

With citizen journalism slowly becoming familiar to many Filipinos, in such recognizable programs on TV as Boto Mo iPatrol Mo and YouScoop, everyone can be a news agent.

Keep in handy a list of contact numbers of your local radio stations, just so, you have somewhere to call or go to in the event something breaking takes place.

On Monday, you cannot just be silent and deaf. If you what you see and what you hear is something of national significance and interest, let every one know.

Republic Act  No. 9006 Section 6.4- 6.5

6.4. No franchise or permit to operate a radio or television station shall be granted or issued, suspended or cancelled during the election period.

In all instances, the COMELEC shall supervise the use and employment of press, radio and television facilities insofar as the placement of political advertisements is concerned to ensure that candidates are given equal opportunities under equal circumstances to make known their qualifications and their stand on public issues within the limits set forth in the Omnibus Election Code and Republic Act No. 7l66 on election spending.

The COMELEC shall ensure that radio or television or cable television broadcasting entities shall not allow the scheduling of any program or permit any sponsor to manifestly favor or oppose any candidate or political party by unduly or repeatedly referring to or including said candidate and/or political party in such program respecting, however, in all instances the right of said broadcast entities to air accounts of significant news or news worthy events and views on matters of public interest.

6.5. All members of media, television, radio or print, shall scrupulously report and interpret the news, taking care not to suppress essential facts nor to distort the truth by omission or improper emphasis.

They shall recognize the duty to air the other side and the duty to correct substantive errors promptly.

6.6. Any mass media columnist, commentator, announcer, reporter, on-air correspondent or personality who is a candidate for any elective public office or is a campaign volunteer for or employed or retained in any capacity by any candidate or political party shall be deemed resigned, if so required by their employer, or shall take a leave of absence from his/her work as such during the campaign period: Provided, That any media practitioner who is an official of a political party or a member of the campaign staff of a candidate or political party shall not use his/her time or space to favor any candidate or political party.

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