ABS-CBN Corporation President and Chief Executive Officer Carlo Katigbak on Monday apologized to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte for failing to air the President’s PHP 7 million worth of political ads during the 2016 elections.
“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,” Katigbak said during the Senate Committee on Public Services inquiry into ABS-CBN’s franchise.
Duterte has been publicly ranting against the media giant since assuming the presidency, after accusing them of not airing his paid campaign ads during the 2016 elections and instead aired an ad against him.
Duterte’s camp bought a total of PHP 182 million in commercial spots, split into PHP 117 million for national ads — which were all aired — and PHP 65 million in local ads, which would target audience in a specific province.
Katigbak said that ABS-CBN could not air some of Duterte’s ads at that time since some slots for local ads were limited to just two minutes per hour, so the network could not find airtime for Duterte’s content by then.
“Our policy on all our ads is first-come, first-served. Many of these spots were ordered on May 3, and May 7 was the last day of the campaign period. There had been many previous telecast orders that came in ahead,” the CEO reiterated.
Former presidential aide and now Senator Christopher “Bong” Go also questioned why ABS-CBN agreed to air an opposition-funded video which he said was meant to tarnish the reputation of Duterte, who was then mayor of Davao City.
“Hindi mababaw ang rason ng Pangulo sa kanyang grievances against the network. Nasaktan ang Presidente, nababoy ang Presidente. Hindi vindictive ang Pangulo but it is clear that someone went overboard to malign him,” Go said.
Katigbak said the network does not have a political agenda.
“Today, we want to make a categorical statement together with our chairman Mark Lopez that ABS-CBN does not and will not have its own political agenda,” Katigbak noted.
On the same hearing, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said that broadcast franchise of media giant ABS-CBN is set to expire on May 4, 2020 — not March 30. He added that base on Republic Act No. 7966, the 25-year franchise was granted on March 30, 1995, however it only becomes effective 15 days after it is published in newspapers.
“Based on facts available to us, the franchise was published on April 19, 1995. For that reason, the franchise will expire on May 4, 2020,” he said.