Live broadcasting of Maguindanao massacre trial

Departing from precedents, the Supreme Court has allowed the live broadcasting of the Maguindanao massacre trial subject to the following guidelines:

(a) An audio-visual recording of the Maguindanao massacre cases may be made both for documentary purposes and for transmittal to live radio and television broadcasting.

(b) Media entities must file with the trial court a letter of application, manifesting that they intend to broadcast the audio-visual recording of the proceedings and that they have the necessary technological equipment and technical plan to  carry out the same, with an undertaking that they will faithfully comply with the guidelines and regulations and cover the entire remaining proceedings until promulgation of judgment.

No selective or partial coverage shall be allowed.  No media entity shall be allowed to broadcast the proceedings without an application duly approved by the trial court.

(c) A single fixed compact camera shall be installed inconspicuously inside the courtroom to provide a single wide-angle full-view of the sala of the trial court.  No panning and zooming shall be allowed to avoid unduly highlighting or downplaying incidents in the proceedings.  The camera and the necessary equipment shall be operated and controlled only by a duly designated official or employee of the Supreme Court.  The camera equipment should not produce or beam any distracting sound or light rays.  Signal lights or signs showing the equipment is operating should not be visible.  A limited number of microphones and the least installation of wiring, if not wireless technology, must be unobtrusively located in places indicated by the trial court.

The Public Information Office and the Office of the Court Administrator shall coordinate and assist the trial court on the physical set-up of the camera and equipment.

(d) The transmittal of the audio-visual recording from inside the courtroom to the media entities shall be conducted in such a way that the least physical disturbance shall be ensured in keeping with the dignity and solemnity of the proceedings and the exclusivity of the access to the media entities.

The hardware for establishing an interconnection or link with the camera equipment monitoring the proceedings shall be for the account of the media entities, which should employ technology that can (i) avoid the cumbersome snaking cables inside the courtroom, (ii) minimize the unnecessary ingress or egress of technicians, and (iii) preclude undue commotion in case of technical glitches.

If the premises outside the courtroom lack space for the set-up of the media entities’ facilities, the media entities shall access the audio-visual recording either via wireless technology accessible even from outside the court premises or from one common web broadcasting platform from which streaming can be accessed or derived to feed the images and sounds.

At all times, exclusive access by the media entities to the real-time audio-visual recording should be protected or encrypted.

(e) The broadcasting of the proceedings for a particular day must be continuous and in its entirety, excepting such portions thereof where Sec. 21 of Rule 119 of the Rules of Court applies, and where the trial court excludes, upon motion, prospective witnesses from the courtroom, in instances where, inter alia, there are unresolved identification issues or there are issues which involve the security of the witnesses and the integrity of their testimony (e.g., the dovetailing of corroborative testimonies is material, minority of the witness).

The trial court may, with the consent of the parties, order only the pixelization of the image of the witness or mute the audio output, or both.

(f) To provide a faithful and complete broadcast of the proceedings, no commercial break or any other gap shall be allowed until the day’s proceedings are adjourned, except during the period of recess called by the trial court and during portions of the proceedings wherein the public is ordered excluded.

(g) To avoid overriding or superimposing the audio output from the on-going proceedings, the proceedings shall be broadcast without any voice-overs, except brief annotations of scenes depicted therein as may be necessary to explain them at the start or at the end of the scene.  Any commentary shall observe the sub judice rule and be subject to the contempt power of the court;

(h) No repeat airing of the audio-visual recording shall be allowed until after the finality of judgment, except brief footages and still images derived from or cartographic sketches of scenes based on the recording, only for news purposes, which shall likewise observe the sub judice rule and be subject to the contempt power of the court;

(i) The original audio-recording shall be deposited in the National Museum and the Records Management and Archives Office for preservation and exhibition in accordance with law.

(j)  The audio-visual recording of the proceedings shall be made under the supervision and control of the trial court which may issue supplementary directives, as the exigency requires, including the suspension or revocation of the grant of application by the media entities.

(k) The Court shall create a special committee which shall forthwith study, design and recommend appropriate arrangements, implementing regulations, and administrative matters referred to it by the Court concerning the live broadcast of the proceedings pro hac vice, in accordance with the above-outlined guidelines.  The Special Committee shall also report and recommend on the feasibility, availability and affordability of the latest technology that would meet the herein requirements.  It may conduct consultations with resource persons and experts in the field of information and communication technology.

(l)  All other present directives in the conduct of the proceedings of the trial court (i.e., prohibition on recording devices such as still cameras, tape recorders; and allowable number of media practitioners inside the courtroom) shall be observed in addition to these guidelines.

(see Re: Petition for radion and television coverage of the multiple murder cases against Maguindanao Governor Zaldy Ampatuan, et al., A.M. No. 10-11-5-SC/A.M. No. 10-11-6-SC/A.M. No. 10-11-7-SC, June 14, 2011)

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