Some networks comply, gov’t TV, radio do not

CANDIDATES and political parties are not the only ones who have to submit documents to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) once the campaign period starts.

According to Comelec Resolution No. 8758 or the “Rules and Regulations Implementing RA 9006, otherwise known as the Fair Election Practices Act in Relation to the May 10, 2010 Synchronized National and Local Elections, and Subsequent Elections,” all media entities, whether print or broadcast, are required to submit copies of their political advertising contracts within five days after these are signed. If a political ad is donated, a written acceptance by the candidate, political party, or party list group for which the donation is being made should be attached to the advertising contract.

Broadcast media outfits are also supposed to submit certified true copies of broadcast logs and certificates of performance covering political advertisements by four preset deadlines: March 9, April 9, May 8, and May 14.

The networks’ certificates of performance are official reports certifying the airing of ads for the account holder (or the entities that placed the ads). These reflect the dates and time when the ads were broadcast. Broadcast logs, meanwhile, are running accounts of all political advertisements (whether commercial, political, or otherwise) broadcast by a particular station in a given day.

For the purpose of complying with Comelec requirements, the networks’ submitted broadcast logs reflect only the political ads that were run in a given day.

Yet of the 10 free-to-air TV stations that aired political advertisements in the first three weeks of the campaign (February 9-28), only four had submitted the required documents as of March 9, the first of the preset deadlines.

Of these four, only ABC 5 submitted all the three sets of documents required by law: advertising contracts, broadcast logs, and certificates of performance.

ABS-CBN 2 submitted its advertising contracts and certificates of performance, but failed to submit its broadcast logs. Moreover, the network did not submit the complete certificates of acceptance that would correspond to all the contracts for donated political ads it has broadcast.

GMA 7 and its affiliate QTV-11 gave their broadcast logs and certificates of performance, but were remiss in submitting the required advertising contracts.

The rest of the free channels – including the three government-owned stations – failed to submit any document to Comelec despite their airing of political ads from February 9 to 28: NBN 4, RPN 9, Islands TV 13, Studio 23, RJTV 29, and SBN 21.

Cable TV channels are also subject to the same requirements as the free TV channels. As of March 9, SkyCable had submitted the reports of Channel 49-AXN, Ch. 28-CNN International, Channel 32-Star Sport, Channel 55-Star Movies, and Channel 48-Star World. Those of Cinema One, Lifestyle Network, MYX, and ANC, were submitted by ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation.

Among the 25 Metro Manila-based AM and FM radio stations that Nielsen monitored to have aired political ads from February 9  to 28, meanwhile, only the AM and FM stations owned by ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corp. had submitted their reports to Comelec as of the March 9 deadline.

GMA Network’s AM station DZBB was mentioned on the title page of the broadcast logs and certificates of performance that the network submitted to Comelec. All of its documents, however, pertain to GMA 7 alone, with no DZBB-related paper included in the report.

Comelec education and information division head James Jimenez says, however, that they allow errant networks to complete their submissions within the “deadline week.” After that, he says, they compile a list of those who have yet to submit the required documents for the legal department to take care of.

At the very least, the documents already with the Comelec make for interesting reading, even with just an initial review.

For instance, among candidates who have bought ad spots well ahead are:

  • Senator Ramon ‘Bong’ Revilla Jr., who is running for re-election, has already secured 129 ad spots for the entire duration of the campaign (February 9 to May 8) with ABS-CBN 2 worth P34 million;
  • Vice-presidential candidate Mayor Jejomar Binay, who has bought 960 spots from ABS-CBN 2 covering February 19 – March 25, and April 5 – May 8 worth P1.3 million; and
  • Senator Miriam D. Santiago, who has secured for herself 102 ad spots on ABS-CBN 2 for February 9 – April 30 worth P26 million, in her bid for yet another run at the Senate.

Revilla, in addition to his ad buys, also signed a separate contract for two guest appearances in the TV program “Agimat” on February 20 and February 27. Per contract, each of these guest appearances was to last for 30 seconds, and was charged the same rate as a 30-second political ad on prime time.

Meantime, supposedly marginalized groups are not necessarily without deep pockets. One example is the Akap-Bata Party List, which claims to represent Filipino children; it has signed three advertising contracts for 100 ad spots worth P23.6 million, and this is with ABS-CBN 2 alone. The contracts cover the periods March 5 – 13, March 14-20, and March 21-27.

Another party list, A-Teacher, which represents teachers and other school personnel, has entered into a contract with ABS CBN 2 for a more modest P777,815 worth of ads.

But there are entities other than political parties and candidates that appear in the documents submitted by the networks. For instance, among those on GMA 7’s certificates of performance are: Friends of Mar Roxas (for Mar Roxas), Publikasia, Inc. (for Genuine Opposition), Friends of Twenty Ten (for Friends of Twenty Ten), Caret, Inc. (for Risa Hontiveros), Team Bayani (for Bayani Fernando), and Bagumbayan Volunteers (for Richard Gordon).

Nielsen data reveal that a total of 233 programs in 14 various networks carried political ads of presidential candidates from February 9 to March 8, 2010.

Primetime shows emerge as the ad placement of choice for candidates. The top ten programs with the heaviest traffic of political ads comprise nine primetime shows and one noontime show. Six of the ten programs appear on ABS-CBN 2 and the four on GMA 7.

GMA 7’s news program 24 Oras carried the most number of political advertisements with 78 ad spots worth a total indicative amount of P26.48 million. Next is ABS-CBN 2’s teleserye “Habang May Buhay” with P18.82 million worth of ads followed by GMA 7’s  fantaserye “The Last Prince” with P17.63 million and ABS-CBN 2’s news program TV Patrol World with P15.35 million.

The other top programs are “Agua Bendita” (ABS-CBN 2), “Kung Tayo’y Magkakalayo” (ABS-CBN 2), Carlo J. Caparas’s “Panday Kids” (GMA 7), “Rubi” (ABS-CBN 2), “Full House” (GMA 7), and “Wowowee” (ABS-CBN 2).

The top 10 shows have an audience share between about 20 percent to more than 30 percent, based on the January 2010 Nielsen surveys among Mega Manila households.

One percent of audience share is estimated to be viewed by around 80,000 households. This means that an advertisement placed in any of the top 10 shows is viewed by more than a million to about 2.5 million households. – PCIJ, March 2010