House set to approve bicam report on political ad ban lifting

By by Jess Diaz | Updated January 9, 2001 - 12:00am
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The House of Representatives is set to approve this week the bicameral conference committee report on a bill lifting the ban on political advertising.

The measure is part of the agenda released by House leaders yesterday for the five-day special session of Congress.

Former Majority Leader Eduardo Gullas (Independent, Cebu), who sat in the Senate-House conference committee that drafted the final version of the bill, said the ban on political advertising should be lifted to put all candidates on equal footing insofar as access to media exposure is concerned.

He said the House should have ratified the measure before Congress went on a month-long Christmas recess last month.

The Senate promptly approved it as soon as the conference committee submitted its report, he said.

Under the bill, all registered political parties and qualified candidates are assured of equal access to media time and space.

Newspaper ads should not exceed one-fourth page in broadsheet papers and one-half page in tabloids and magazines. Their frequency should not exceed thrice a week.

In the case of broadcast time, political parties or candidates may buy a maximum of 120 minutes of TV advertising and 180 minutes of radio advertisements.

Media organizations are to submit to the Commission on Elections copies of all advertising contracts within five days from their signing.

They shall give political parties and candidates a discount of 10 percent in the case of newspapers and magazines, 20 percent in the case of radio stations and 30 percent in the case of TV networks.

The bill also requires all media practitioners, whether print or broadcast, to scrupulously report the news about candidates or political parties and the election campaign, taking care not to distort the truth by omission or improper emphasis.

Media personalities who are candidates or helping in the campaign of their candidate-friends or relatives are asked to resign or take a leave of absence from their profession.