MANILA - ABS-CBN has no political agenda and does not favor some candidates over others, the company’s chief said on Monday as lawmakers discussed the network’s alleged political bias in past elections.
Carlo Katigbak, president and CEO of ABS-CBN Corp, said the company treated the campaigns of different candidates equally and that its failure to air the political ads of certain candidates was due to its “first come, first served” system.
During the 12th congressional hearing on ABS-CBN’s application for franchise renewal, Katigbak was asked by lawmakers about why the ads of some candidates were left unaired despite these candidates having already paid for airtime.
Katigbak explained that even though the ad slots in ABS-CBN’s programs had already been filled, the ad agents of many candidates still appealed to be allowed to purchase slots in these programs in case some of the earlier clients withdrew their ads.
Cong. Rufus Rodriguez noted that the unaired political ads for candidates for Senators, Vice President and President were from different political parties. In the Presidential race, while there were unaired ads for then Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, there were also unaired ads for former Sen. Mar Roxas and Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Katigbak said.
Katigbak, meanwhile, said ABS-CBN will try to be more transparent with its acceptance of political ad placements in the next elections.
“Assuming that we are on air during the next campaign period, we have already committed to put together an online system for the purchase of political ads so that there is full transparency as to the first-come, first-served policy as well as full transparency on shows that are already filled up,” Katigbak said.
But he added that the company “will still continue to give the option to the candidate a contingency purchase if they so choose but with the full knowledge that the shows that they are asking for spots on are already fully sold.”
Katigbak also said the company will study the proposal of Rodriguez to stop accepting political ads when the slots have already been filled.
“Even the act of denying a candidate the ability to purchase on a particular program may also be considered as bias,” Katigbak said.
The ABS-CBN chief also reiterated what he told a Senate hearing last February that the company had delays in refunding clients for unaired political ads in 2016 elections, but had already remedied the issue in the 2019 polls.
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