No media group in the country has questioned this policy, not even politicians who are the most affected by it. I am referring to the rule of certain television networks and radio stations that only candidates who pay will be interviewed in their programs or covered in their newscasts.
I find this disturbing for several reasons.
One, it is unfair to the poor candidates. I have no problem with the placement of advertisements because that can be paid for by sponsors, giving poorer candidates a bit of a chance to even up. The problem is when even coverages and radio interviews are up for a fee, which means additional expense. That increases the campaign spending, placing poor candidates at the losing end.
Two, it muddles our practice of journalism. Coverages and interviews for a fee more often than not do not carry disclaimers that these are being paid for by candidates so-and-so. It is campaigning done on the guise of journalism work. Because money is the basis for making the coverage and interviews, objectivity and the quest for the truth suffers.
Three, it is unfair to the listeners and viewers, who are made to believe that the candidates covered or interviewed are legitimate news sources and by the same token have important issues to convey to them. Because of the lack of disclaimers, listeners and viewers will already find it difficult to differentiate the paid from the legitimate coverages and interviews.
I think leaders of media groups, the National Telecommunications Commission and even the Commission on Elections should take a second look at this practice. Leaders of media groups especially. The worst thing to happen is when journalism is sacrificed on the altar of profiteering.
—Candido O. Wenceslao, May 1, 2007