Tuesday, March 10, 2009

My Thoughts on the "Right of Reply" Bill

here's the text of my post at attyatwork. com on the topic "Right of Reply" bill. The thread goes like this:

There are existing proposals in both chambers for a right of reply. In essence, the right of reply means that all persons who are accused directly or indirectly of committing or having committed or of intending to commit any crime or offense defined by law or are criticized by innuendo, suggestion or rumor for any lapse in behavior in public or private life shall have the right to reply to the charges published or printed in newspapers, magazines, newsletters or publications circulated commercially or for free, or to criticisms aired or broadcast over radio, television, websites, or through any electronic device.

The reply, which shall not be longer than the article/discussion replied to, shall be published in the same space free of charge. Penalties, including imprisonment, await violators.

Full text of both Senate Bill 2150 and House Bill 3306 is here.

So, any thoughts? Let’s discuss.

PussycatMar 5th, 2009 at 1:10 pm

no matter how i try to view it objectively, i can’t figure out how public policy can be best served by legislating a “right of reply” bill in the Congress. First of all the proposed legislation is curtailment of press freedom in disguise and has a “chilling effect” on the mass media. The point is we already have libel laws to protect those who are maligned or defamated through publicity, so why still require media at its own expense to provide an equal space for a reply, isn’t that asking too much? if the aggrieved party is a public figure then it’s tantamount to a double whammy because aside from the media being taxpayers paying taxes to the government, another burden would be added, that is, a complimentary space for a reply, for whatever its worth, courtesy of media. The resulting effect of this anomaly is that media would now disengage from its traditional role of being a watchdog particularly of public officials in order to avoid incurring concomitant costs should the aggrieved party decide to exercise this right. The bottom line is we have now a media afraid to speak its mind on critical issues and wrongdoings of public officials will go unreported. Sounds really scary, isn’t it? My conclusion is: a free press with its occasional aberrations is better than a muzzled press.

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