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ABS-CBN president and CEO apologizes to Pres. Rodrigo Duterte

“At the end of this whole discussion, I think we were sorry if we offended the President. That was not the intention of the Network,” says Carlo Katigbak

In today’s public hearing of ABS-CBN’s franchise and other broadcast franchises at the senate’s session hall, ABS-CBN Corporation’s president and chief executive officer Carlo Katigbak responded to the two points raised by senator Christopher ‘Bong’ Go.  Katigbak also apologized for his company’s shortcomings.

On behalf of President Rodrigo Duterte, Go aired the commander-in-chief’s grievances toward the media giant.

The first point that Sen. Go opened was about the media giant’s intention of misleading and informing the public.

According to Sen. Go, a video was (obviously) aired by the Network, intending to malign the President during the height of the 2016 Presidential elections.

“Nasaktan ang Presidente. Nababoy ang Presidente. Hindi vindictive ang Pangulo, but it is clear that someone went overboard in trying to malign him.

“Kung masama ka kay Pangulo, mas maging mabait siya sa ‘yo. Kung mas mabait ka kay Pangulo, mas mabait siya sa ‘yo, ” says Go.

Go also cited the fair elections act that all members of media–television, radio, or print shall scrupulously report and interpret the news, taking care not to suppress essential facts nor to distort the truth by omission or improper emphasis. 

Any media shall recognize their duty to air both sides and to promptly correct substantive errors.

As opposed to the previous video shown during the hearing, Go pointed out the failure of airing the President’s ad order as well.

He suggested that the Network must appeal to the President for the simple reason not to let its 11,000-strong employees lose their jobs. 

In response to the two points raised by Go, Carlo Katigbak clears the issue by saying, “To provide the context that, there are two kinds of ads sold to political candidates–the national ad and the local ad (just seen in the specific province[s].

National ads’ allocation is 19 minutes of commercial airtime per hour while local ads, allocation of only two minutes of airtime per hour. 

Katigbak shared that the President placed a Php117M-worth of national ads of which the Network was able to air the exact required and paid for ads.

The Kapamilya station president and CEO admitted before the hearing that the station had problems with local ads. They only had two minutes of allocation. 

Also, in his response, he mentioned that Php65M-worth of spots from the President, but the Network failed to air Php7M worth of ad spots.

ABS-CBN network has a ‘first come, first serve’ policy. Katigbak said that many ad orders came in on the 3rd of May. The campaign period ended on the 7th. In reality, there were already prior telecast orders before the President’s order.

ABS-CBN refunded (an approximate of) Php4M to the President. That was accepted. However, he admitted the Station was delayed in returning Php2.6M.

Katigbak further said, “On this issue, we acknowledge our shortcomings in our failure to release that refund in a timely manner and we corrected that so that in 2019, our policy is 7 days–if your spot is not aired the check would be back to the client or the advertiser[s] within 7 days. We acknowledge our shortcomings on the refund. 

“At the end of this whole discussion, I think we were 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. 

“Today, we want to make a categorical statement together with our chairman Mark Lopez, that ABS does not and will not have its own political agenda.”

Regarding the ad on Sen Trillanes. Katigbak also based his response on the Fair Elections Act that lawful election propaganda shall include, stated in section 4, that 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 because they felt. Unlike the first version of the ad, they rejected it because they feel that the children were performing inappropriate actions or behaviors. There was a revised version of the ad which Sen. Go showed earlier, that showed the children merely asking questions so we felt that it did not violate any of our internal policies. 

“The third reason why our ethics committee decided to push through in airing the ad is under the KBP code we are required not to discriminate against any other candidate. In other words, any candidate that comes to our station, with an ad that is legal and legitimate must be accommodated.

“Unlike the ads of the President that we were unable to air, all of these ads were aired on a national basis, part of the 19minutes per hour and not part of the local 2 minutes per hour. which why there was enough inventory to accommodate the ad.”




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