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RUNNING OUT OF AIR TIME
Aquino, Villar over the limit

By Kristine L. Alave, Nikko Dizon
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 03:35:00 03/27/2010

Filed Under: Eleksyon 2010, Elections, Television, Advertising

MANILA, Philippines?The two leading presidential candidates, Sen. Benigno ?Noynoy? Aquino III of the Liberal Party (LP) and Sen. Manuel ?Manny? Villar of the Nacionalista Party (NP), had exceeded their maximum air time of 120 minutes in a television network, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said Friday.

Aquino had exceeded his limit of commercial air time in ABS-CBN network two months before the May 10 elections, the Comelec said.

It added that Aquino paid for the ABS-CBN commercials, which totaled 291.5 minutes from Feb. 9 to March 12, under his own name.

Villar?s commercials, on the other hand, were logged under NP expenses.

Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said the NP had used up 250 minutes of air time in ABS-CBN. The advertisements that Villar paid under his name in ABS-CBN and TV5 totaled only 33 minutes only, according to Comelec records.

Maxed out

?We have two presidential candidates who have gone over the limit of their advertising for one station. First, we have Aquino going over the limit,? Jimenez said in a press briefing on Friday.

?Villar has only totaled about 27 minutes, but NP has 256 minutes in terms of advertising for ABS-CBN. That means Noynoy and Villar have maxed out their limits for ABS-CBN,? Jimenez added.

Jimenez said the Comelec would notify the candidates that they have violated the provisions of the Fair Election Law on media advertisement, which aimed to level the playing field among candidates.

Under the law, a candidate is allowed 120 minutes of broadcasting time per station during the election campaign period.

Warning

?The Comelec will inform them and their party of the state of play for their ads. We will warn them from airing further ads on the stations where they have exceeded their limits,? Jimenez said.

Violation of the Fair Election Law is considered an election offense and could lead to imprisonment, fines, and disbarment from public and elective office.

However, a group of nongovernment organizations monitoring candidates? campaign spending said Friday that Aquino and Villar had already exceeded the 120-minutes air time limit on political advertisements in the country?s top two television networks,

Drawing attention to data provided by the ratings firm AC Nielsen, the Pera at Pulitika Network said that Villar had aired 128.25 minutes of advertisements over GMA-7 and 122.5 minutes on ABS-CBN.

Aquino aired 118 minutes of ads over GMA-7 and 129 minutes on ABS-CBN, it said.

Villar said in a statement that he had not exceeded his air time on the two networks and stressed that he followed the law.

Wrong impression

?The reports may give the wrong impression in the minds of the public. I?d like to believe that there was inadvertent mistake in the counting of our TV airtime, perhaps by adding the NP television ads in the count,? Villar said.

Jimenez said that should Aquino want to show political ads on ABS-CBN, he had to use LP?s allotted advertising limit, which is 120 minutes.

?For Noynoy, there is still party time for him. I guess it?s all about strategy,? he said.

Plenty of air time

The Comelec said Aquino had only used up 49 minutes in GMA 7 and 2 minutes in TV5 and could thus still present campaign commercials in the networks.

Jimenez said if Villar wanted to show commercials in ABS-CBN, he should spend his own money and not his party?s.

The Comelec said the other presidential candidates had not yet consumed their allowable air time.

Former Joseph Estrada has bought 57 minutes of air time in ABS-CBN and 45.5 minutes in GMA 7. Sen. Richard Gordon of Bagumbayan has spent 47.5 in ABS-CBN, 39.5 minutes in GMA 7 and 30 seconds in TV5.



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