GMA Network questions airtime limits before Comelec

By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 24 2013 01:55 AM | Updated as of Jan 24 2013 09:55 AM

MANILA - Leave it to common interests to bring industry rivals together.

Just like the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas (KBP), GMA Network Inc. is protesting the aggregate airtime limits for political advertisements during the official campaign period.

GMA Network Inc. on Wednesday filed a letter-motion for reconsideration (MR) at the Commission on Elections over the aggregate airtime limits for broadcast political advertisements during the coming official campaign period.

Pierre Cantara, a lawyer from the law firm of GMA Network Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Felipe L. Gozon, arrived at almost 4 p.m. on Wednesday to file the letter-MR.

Cantara declined interviews.

Part of the letter reads, "as an affected party, GMA Network,… invokes the quasi legislative functions of the honorable commission and submits serious concerns and reservations on certain provisions of resolution 9615. We humbly urge the honorable commission, using its rule-making powers, to recall and revisit the same immediately."

GMA raised procedural concerns and substantive concerns like restrictive airtime allotments. "GMA submits that broadcasting entities would surely encounter insurmountable diifculties in monitoring the broadcasting minutes spent by numerous candidates for various elective positions. And therefore, compliance with the new rules will be cruel and oppressive."

GMA also raised questions on interference in news reporting by the requirement of Comelec consent for TV and radio guestings and the right to reply provision.

The letter was signed by Gozon, his legal counsel former UP College of Law Dean Pacifico Agabin, Ma. Luz Delfin VP for Legal Affairs and by the Bela Gozon, Elma Parel Asuncion and Lucila.

GMA's letter-MR comes on the heels of complaints by the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas over the same aggregate airtime limits.

The KBP intends to file its formal MR on Thursday.

GMA is not a member of the KBP. The KBP groups members of the broadcast industry, including ABS-CBN.

Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes welcomed the filing, but said the commission is not inclined to change its position.

Brillantes reiterated that resolution 9615 is a resolution unanimously approved by the commission en banc, making any appeals prohibited pleadings.

Brillantes on Tuesday advised the KBP to go straight to the Supreme Court.

Networks earn from selling airtime during their broadcasts to advertisers, including political campaigns, during the pre-election season as well as the official campaign period.

The Fair Elections Act mandates a cap of 120 minutes for TV and 180 minutes for radio for national candidates, and 60 minutes for TV and 90 minutes for radio for local candidates.

In the 2004, 2007 and 2010 elections, this cap was implemented on a per network basis. In the 2013 elections, the Comelec, through 9615, will implement this on an aggregate basis.