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ABS-CBN’s Katigbak: We’re sorry if we offended the President

/ 12:45 PM February 24, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — ABS-CBN on Monday apologized to President Rodrigo Duterte over a controversial political ad it aired in 2016, maintaining that the network abided by laws and regulations on the airing of such ads.

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“We are sorry if we offended the President. That was not the intention of the network, we felt that we were just abiding by the laws and regulations that surround the airing of political ads,” ABS-CBN president and chief executive officer Carlo Katigbak told the Senate hearing on the network’s franchise.

“Today we want to make a categorical statement that ABS has not and will not have its own political agenda,” he added.

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Before this, the chief executive’s closest ally in the Senate, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, confronted executives of the network over the airing of the 30-second ad which showed children questioning then presidential candidate and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s foul language.

The ad was paid for by former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV.

“Paano ito naging political ad? Are you promoting a candidate here or are you destroying a candidate? Gusto ko lang malaman, ano ba ang priority ng network? Kumikita ang network through the airing of political ads,” Go asked.

“But in this case, airing the black propaganda video appeared to be more important than earning income from airing legitimate ads that have already been paid for. The non-airing of ads already paid for, and the subsequent airing of ads for the purpose of maligning a person, display an intent to oppose a particular candidate,” the administration senator added.

However, Katigbak argued that the questioned ad did not violate any of its internal policies on airing political ad.

“Under the Fair Election Act, for the purpose of this act, lawful election propaganda shall include in Section 4 any broadcast of election propaganda by television or radio for or against a candidacy. That to us was the first reason why our internal committee made a green light to the ad, the second reason why the committee gave a green light to the ad,” the network official said.

Katigbak added that the first version of the ad that was given to the station was rejected because the children were “performing inappropriate actions or behaviors.”

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“They (internal committee) felt that unlike the first version of the ad— which we rejected because we felt that the children were performing inappropriate actions or behaviors — there was a revised version of the ad which Senator Go showed earlier that show the children merely asking questions. So we felt that it did not violate any of our internal policies,” he said.

Another reason why the station decided to push through with airing the ad, Katigbak said, was because the network is “required not to discriminate against any candidate.”

“In other words, any candidate that comes to our station with an ad that is legal and legitimate must be accommodated,” he said.

All national ads of Duterte aired 

In terms of the ads paid by the President that were not aired, Katigbak noted that the network had aired all of the over P100 million worth of national ads paid by Duterte at the time.

The network official, however, admitted that they were unable to air all of the local ads paid for by Duterte in 2016.

Katigbak explained that there are two kinds of political ads sold to candidates.

“The first one is the national ad which is seen all over the country and the second one is a local ad which is normally seen within just a specific province,” he said.

He said that for national ads, 19 minutes of commercial airtime per hour are allocated while only two minutes per hour is allocated for local ads.

“The President placed an order for P117 million worth of national ads of which we aired, all P117 million. In other words, 100 percent of the President’s ads — which were ordered for a national airing — were accommodated and broadcast and aired by the station,” he said.

“Dun po sa local ads nagkaproblema kami because we only have two minutes of airtime per hour. In the case of the local ads, the President placed an order of P65 million worth of spots in which we failed to air P7 million worth,” he added.

He said this was because the station follows a first come first serve policy when it comes to ads.

“Many of these spots were ordered on May 3rd. May 7th was the last day of the campaign period. So there had been many previous telecast orders that were already ahead, that came in ahead of the President’s telecast order,” he said.

“So, that being said, the P7 million po na hindi namin na-ere, we were able to refund approximately P4 million to the President and that was accepted,” he added.

“We were delayed in refunding the P2.6 million, which Senator Go flashed on the screen and that P2.6 million was no longer accepted by the President,” he said.

Edited by EDV
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