By Ellson Quismorio
A Mindanao solon thinks that broadcast media should devote at least 20 minutes of regular airtime daily for Public Service Announcements (PSAs) to inform the people of social issues such as drug abuse and emergency preparedness.
Towards this objective, Surigao del Norte 2nd District Rep. Robert Ace Barbers has authored and filed House Bill (HB) No.7981, which urges media to help in educating the public on welfare rights and benefits, environmental issues, education, suicide prevention, and voter and civic education.
Under HB 7981, the public should also be made aware of policies and laws, road and traffic rules, physical and mental health, government processes, disaster preparedness and public safety thru PSAs.
“Public service announcements are effective ways to generate public awareness on critical issues and in the end, promote behavioral change,” said Barbers, chair of the House Committee on Dangerous Drugs.
“If done correctly, PSAs may foster an informed discourse among community members on societal problems,” he noted.
Barbers said laws that grant broadcasting companies the franchise to construct, install, operate and maintain television and radio broadcasting stations in the country mandate them to allow sufficient time for public service.
“The problem is the franchise given to media companies doesn’t stipulate a preset number of hours, and the truth is, these companies seldom comply with their mandate,” he pointed out.
“To whom much is given, much is expected,” Barber further said in justifying the measure.
Under the measure, a 30-second PSA shall be aired before the primetime news of all television and radio stations.
Barbers said the PSAs shall be non-commercial, non-denominational, and non-political and may be changed every six months to cover a wide array of social issues.