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The truth in “media pay-offs”


LIFE’S INSPIRATIONS:“…`the truth shall make you free’…” (Jesus Christ, our God and Savior, in John 8:32, the Holy Bible).

THE TRUTH IN “MEDIA PAY-OFFS”: Just exactly what is the truth in what the Aquino government, through the Department of Justice, is doing in trying to link some mediamen to the P10 billion pork barrel scam? To cow media into submission so that they will stop their investigative reporting into, and criticisms against, the scam? Or to make them more receptive to suggestions on who to hit hard on the issue?

Certainly, the objective is malevolent, and is undeniably aimed at controlling the media, in one way or another. The fact is that, the alleged “pay-offs to media” (as Justice Secretary Leila De Lima herself characterized the money allegedly given to some media personalities) couldn’t’ even be .001% of the P10 billion pork barrel allocations that lawmakers were said to have diverted and pocketed, with the cooperation of other government officials.

Yet, with the way the government is publicizing the “media pay-offs”, it is being made to appear now as if mediamen are the real evildoers in the pork barrel anomaly, and that it is the media that should be crucified instead. Surely, this is a reprehensible diversionary tactic, an attempt to deodorize the lawmakers being linked to the scam, and make mediamen the scape goats. Whoever thought of this maneuver is a genius on the side of evil.

SILENCE OF MEDIA GROUPS SURPRISING: That having been said, I am surprised at the silence of big media organizations on the issue, particularly the National Press Club, the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP), the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, and the countless other press clubs in the country. Why are these organizations not saying on the issue?

Does this silence of these media organizations mean they are in agreement with the accusations being made by the Aquino government? Or, they simply couldn’t care less anymore about media practitioners who are facing these kinds of problems? I mean, I am perplexed that the KBP, in particular, has chosen to remain silent on an industry practice which is at the core of the accusations of the government now.

What is this industry practice? It is the giving of so-called “premium minutes” to broadcasters, “premium minutes” being a minute or two of their programs which they are allowed to sell to advertisers or any to other interested persons or groups so they can raise additional income legally. This has been an on-going practice for as long as I can remember, and so it is a total surprise that the government is now saying it is illegal.

MEDIA SURVIVES THRU ADS ALONE, UNLESS… The fact is that, it is 100 percent better that mediamen are allowed to derive legitimate income from their programs or their writings, other than the salaries or per column inch-payments given to them. Selling “premium minutes” certainly prevents mediamen from “going into orbit”, which is a phrase denoting mediamen’s going around their beats and asking for money from those they cover or interview.

This is no different from the advertisement solicitations which big media outfits---print, TV and broadcast---undertake, to generate revenue to pay their columnists, reporters, broadcasters, and even their administrative staff. It is an industry practice, too, that big media personalities are sent by their networks to private companies and advertisers to ask for ad placements.

Truly, no media outfit can survive if it has no advertisements or commercials, unless it is supported by money from some other sources. Advertisements and commercials however come in many forms---including the “premium minutes” of broadcasters and some columnists and reporters. Removing these advertisements and commercials and “premium minutes” would have the effect of killing media as a whole.

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