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National

News5: MTRCB oversteps mandate, sets bad precedent with preventive suspension of 'T3'

InterAksyon.com
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA, Philippines -- The Movie and Television Review and Classification Board overstepped its mandate in slapping a 20-day preventive suspension on the public affairs program “T3” and set a “dangerous precedent” that could be used to censor all news programs, News5 said Thursday.

Hours after the MTRCB handed down the suspension, News5 said the agency’s decision “sets it on a path that could threaten the independence and freedom of the broadcast industry.”

It pointed out that “self-regulatory mechanisms internal to the organization and instituted within the industry and to which TV5 subscribes were in place, enforced, and ultimately effective in disciplining programs host Ben, Raffy, and Erwin Tulfo.”

The Tulfos were suspended for three days by the network after they aired threatening comments against showbiz couple Raymart Santiago and Claudine Barreto, who figured in a brawl with their elder brother, Ramon, at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport last Sunday.

“MTRCB’s action of placing T3 under preventive suspension raises the question of what else, other than the disciplining of the anchors, the government aims to achieve” News5 pointed out. “The Tulfos have been sanctioned.  What else is there for government to resolve?” 

It also pointed out that a preventive suspension “suggests that the continued broadcast of the program would constitute a danger to the viewing public.” 

“There is no such danger,” it stressed.

TV5 president and CEO Ray C. Espinosa said in an interview that the MTRCB's action, if left unchallenged, sets a dangerous precedent, with grave implications on media practice because it violates the constitutional prohibition on prior restraint.

InterAksyon is the online news portal of News5.

Following is the full text of News5’s statement:

News5 is deeply concerned by the MTRCB decision to place its Public Service program T3 under preventive suspension.

We believe that this oversteps the mandate of the MTRCB, and sets it on a path that could threaten the independence and freedom of the broadcast industry.

Self-regulatory mechanisms internal to the organization and instituted within the industry and to which TV5 subscribes were in place, enforced, and ultimately effective in disciplining programs host Ben, Raffy, and Erwin Tulfo.

MTRCB’s action of placing T3 under preventive suspension raises the question of what else, other than the disciplining of the anchors, the government aims to achieve.  The Tulfos have been sanctioned.  What else is there for government to resolve?  A preventive suspension suggests that the continued broadcast of the program would constitute a danger to the viewing public. 

There is no such danger.  T3 was conceptualized, produced, and ultimately classified as a public service program.  For MTRCB to even consider or suggest by its actions that  T3 has suddenly lost all its purpose and value, or worse, poses a danger to the public such that it warrants censorship, sets a dangerous tone and could potentially lead to a dangerous precedent for all news programs.

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