A column of Inquirer editor John Nerry against the Rappler’s lawsuit on Commission on Elections (Comelec) have created a rift between two media organizations.
In the article posted in Inquirer.net, Nerry had explained that he could not understand why Rappler is reiterating broadcast rights to all presidential debates even if they already agreed to the terms and conditions set by the Comelec.
“What is essentially at issue here is Rappler’s unarticulated assumption that, because it is an online-only news organization, it deserves lead-organizer status in all three presidential debates.
At that first meeting, which I attended, Rappler should already have raised its objections to this handpicking. But it did not. Instead, it argued for the right to livestream the debate. If I recall correctly, it had been invited as a lead organizer for social media; the other media organizations immediately and correctly pointed out that we all had our own social media operations, too. A few representatives were vocal about the folly of allowing an online organization like Rappler to act as though it were a lead organizer for all four debates. Eventually, after a couple of meetings, the Comelec decided to invite Rappler as a lead organizer, together with the previously chosen CNN and Business Mirror, of the April 10 (vice-presidential) debate.”
In response to Nerry’s column, Rappler released an official statement explaining their side.
“Today, Inquirer’s John Nery is taking Rappler to task for suing the Comelec chairman, supposedly because he sidelined Rappler after it acted “as though it were a lead organizer for all four debates.” The columnist calls it “‘handpicked’ hypocrisy.” His is a handpicked recollection of events.
Rappler never asked to be the lead organizer for all the debates. That is not our spirit, and our actions show this. Comelec suggested that we take the lead in the social media execution of the debates, but that was premised on the spirit of online collaboration and engagement, which Nery probably does not quite grasp.
Equal access is the core of every action we have taken in relation to the Comelec debates.”
Why Rappler sued Comelec?
In their previous official statement, Rappler had explained that they sued Comelec because they were trying to protect public interest by alleviating the intervention of business interests (removing commercials and exlusivity to broadcast tools particularly) in the presidential debate.
“Because a decision by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman, Andres Bautista, to grant broadcast rights to the upcoming presidential and vice presidential debates only to the nation’s biggest commercial television companies and their chosen partners is out of touch with reality.
Today’s reality is that of 100 million Filipinos, 48 million get their news at least part of every day over phones, tablets or computers.
Today’s reality is that Filipinos lead the world in time spent on social media every day, partly because our median age is 23 years old.
Today’s reality is that close to 25 million registered voters belong to the 18-34 age group. They constitute about 46% of the country’s total registered voters. Their votes matter, and the better informed they are, the better their choices will be.
It’s normal for large networks to push for all they can get, but it’s not normal for the Comelec, the body that administers elections, to abdicate its responsibility to ensure equal access. This is the first time since the post-Marcos years that a government institution awarded exclusive rights to a public event – including the power to police all media – to the largest television networks.”
Your thoughts about the dispute?