PRESS FREEDOM

08 February 2011

1987 Constitution Article III Section 4
No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.

Freedom of expression

Due process

Article III Section 1
No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, and property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws. Two aspects of due process – Procedural – a law that hears before it condemns (Daniel Webster) Substantive – the law itself must be fair, reasonable & just, and must not be arbitrary

The constitutional guaranty of press freedom covers:

(a) discussion (b) advocacy (c) statements of facts (d) statements of opinions and ideas

Four aspects of the freedom of the press:
(1) freedom from prior restraint (2) freedom from punishment subsequent to publication (3) freedom of access to information (4) freedom of circulation

Freedom from prior restraint
• freedom from government censorship of publications, i.e., no license is needed before a publication can be printed • there are certain types of mass media, which are subject to government regulation

SAMPLE CASES
1- a prior license is required for the operation of a radio station due to the necessity of regulating radio traffic, in order to prevent interference and confusion 2 - a permit is required before a particular film can be shown in public because
(a) moving pictures has a greater capacity for evil, especially among the young, and (b) a debate on the issues presented is not possible.

Freedom from punishment subsequent to publication
• no liability for harmless publications, i.e., opinions on public issues cannot be punished when published, merely because they are novel or controversial or because they clash with current doctrines • must be truthful, must concern something in which people in general take a healthy interest, and must not endanger some important social end

3 Major Criteria (Doctrines) for subsequent punishment 1. Dangerous Tendency Rule
Not necessary to create evil; a mere tendency toward evil is enough

2. Clear and Present Danger
Danger is not only probable but must be very likely inevitable

3. Balancing of Interests test
The court determines which of two conflicting interests demands the greater protection under prevailing circumstances

Exempt from punishment:
1. Privileged matters, including—
a. Fair and true reports of official proceedings (in all branches of the government) b. Fair and true reports of official acts performed in the regular course of public business. c. Fair and true reports of matters of public concern, esp. on government affairs. d. Fair comment on matters of public interest

Exempt from punishment:
2. Matters of legitimate public concern and interest include— a. Reports of current news. b. Reports on public personages 3. Discussions or advocacy of novel or alien doctrines/ideas so long as these do not constitute a “clear and present danger” to national security of public order 4. Narration of facts or fiction in literary form, so long as these are not offensive or obscene.

Freedom of access to information
Article III Section 7
The right of the people to information on matters of public concern shall be recognized. Access to official records & documents, and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions, transactions, or decisions as well as to government research data used as basis for policy development, shall be afforded the citizen, subject to such limitations as may be provided by law.

Freedom of access to information
• The mass media have a common-law right to inspect public records for the purpose of securing information or data for publication • an officer in charge of public records has the duty to allow representatives of the press access to these records; in case of refusal, he may be compelled to do so by court order

Freedom of access to information
• there are special and reasonable causes for government proceedings to held behind closed doors; in such cases, records are declared confidential • information obtained confidentially may be printed without naming the source and that source is closed to official inquiry, unless the courts or Congress decide the source be revealed for the security of the State.

The Supreme Court acknowledges the authority of the Director of Posts to exclude from the mails written or printed matter or photographs of an obscene, lascivious, filthy, indecent or libelous character. Such is an offense against decency and good customs and so the restriction is valid.

Freedom of circulation
• unhampered distribution of newspapers and other media among the public • government limits/restricts circulation by requiring the payment of a fee/tax imposed either on the publisher or on the distributor

Censorship is justified when there is possible injury (1) to the public order or security, (2) to the public morals, (3) to private reputation and the right of privacy, or (4) to the integrity or efficiency of public bodies like Congress and the courts

A main source of restrictions on the right of the citizens to freely discuss questions in print is our economic system. This is seldom within the power of the law to correct The business nature of media gives to only a few people unlimited discretion in determining newspaper policies.

Newspapers require the use of much capital; and to all practical

intent, it is inevitable in our society that control over the papers be in the hands of big business. Newspapers are in business and will mend their bad habits should the public threaten withdrawal of patronage.