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News Network Disregards Photojournalist’s Profession

A high-profit news network asks for free images from photojournalists, malpractice in the Philippines to avoid paying professional fees

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George Buid
George Buidhttp://www.georgebuid.com/
An independent photojournalist of the Philippines capturing life as it passes by. He contributes to different news outlet and press publications.

PHILIPPINES. Quezon City. A Philippine news network disregards photojournalism as a profession. GMA Network profit billions of Philippine Pesos in the third quarter of 2020. Nevertheless, a large corporation with big profits can’t provide proper financial compensation to the work of a photojournalist.

GMA Network holds a division called GMA News And Public Affairs (GMA NAPA) that produces news, public affairs, infotainment, and now entertainment. Before, the news network carries the name Greater Manila Area Network (in 1950), then changed to Global Media Arts. Now, they earned their profit three times to ₱2.94 billion in the third quarter of 2020.

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GMA Network’s billboard on the sidewalk of EDS in Quezon City on 8 Dec. 2020. / Photo credit: George Buid

High-profit news corporation freeloads content(s) from professionals.

The world recognizes photojournalism as a respectable profession under journalism and art. The photojournalists are always on the front line to capture current events, public affairs, and news coverage. Yet, big news networks like GMA Network overlook this profession without giving proper compensation and ask for content.

Photojournalist Ezra Acayan exposes the malpractice of a high-profit news corporation on social media. First, he posted screenshots of GMA Network’s messages asking for typhoon Vamco images with waived fees on 13 Nov. 2020. Instead, the news network offers to credit the photographs under his name.

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The incident continued for the different programs of GMA News that also involves GMA News And Public Affairs. The news network targets other photographers without proper compensation for their work that Mr. Acayan shares on his Facebook. Then, GMA Public Affairs released an official statement that they will stop the practice and leave private information unexposed.

Therefore, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines demanded the owners of the news networks end their exploitation and degradation of the profession. The statement dictates, “We are afraid this has increasingly become an excuse to avoid payment of content creators and proper compensation of media professionals. At the same time, we call on media professionals to band together to push our right to just compensation and working arrangements.”

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A Philippine news network’s front gate with two passers-by, with one giving a tap on the back, walks by it in Quezon City on 8 Dec. 2020. / Photo credit: George Buid

Philippine law protects the rights of artists like photographers.

Attorney Tim Calumpong shares to Transcontinental Times how the practice of the news network reflects in Philippine’s labor law. He said, “If the company is only interested in the output without regard to how the artists achieve the final product, then they are independent contractors (freelancers) and not employees. But, if the company controls how to achieve the final product, then they are employees covered by the Labor Code. The Labor Code sets the minimum benefits applicable to the artists (photographers) considered as employees.

Further, a virtual public forum discusses the news network asking for free content and copyright issues. PonD News Asia invites lawyers Atty. Rache Mayuga, who used to work for Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPO Philippines), Atty. Tim Calumpong and Atty. Edward Chico in the forum entitled Copyright as a Human Right: Issues and Challenges for Photographers and Videographers.

Atty. Mayuga said, “The constitution obligated to protect the rights, and (the rights) inherited. You own the control to Copyright (rights to an original copy). However, owning a copy differs from a copyright where a purchaser is not the owner.”

The forum discusses further the sharing of content in social media and news networks with the use of “credit to the owner” (CTTO). Atty. Chico said, “The sharer is not liable online, but only the person who uploaded it is liable. Yet, recognizing the owner is not enough or the use of CTTO.” News networks that give no recognition to the work of photojournalists can be emotionally distressful. Photojournalists get a short supply of work in this COVID-19 pandemic that adds emotional stress to them. Thus, laws could protect them like the Unjust Vexation Act.


  • George Buid

    An independent photojournalist of the Philippines capturing life as it passes by. He contributes to different news outlet and press publications.

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