NEAR-RIOT OVER GMA-7 GO
BINGO CASH PRIZE
Quezon City, Sept. 28, 1998 - Last Friday night, GMA-7 host Arnell Ignacio of the popular GO BINGO show drew the lucky number 41. TV viewers holding GO BINGO cards bearing the same number were instructed to phone GMA-7 which announced two hotline telephone numbers for the purpose. The first 50 callers would receive P10,000 each.
That's when GMA's problems began. Viewers claim that the phones just rang but no one answered. Others phoned and claim that their names were taken for listing as winners, only to find out at the TV station that their names do not appear on the posted winning list.
Yesterday, more than a hundred TV viewers, all holding homeviewer cards bearing the winning number 41, massed outside the gates of GMA-7 on EDSA corner Timog, demanding payment. Many of them came from as far as Northern Luzon and Bicol provinces. They were demanding P10,000 each for holding the same winning number.
Arnel Ignacio tried to appease them. Ignacio explained that the show could not meet their demands because only the first 50 callers were considered winners. He became the target of empty bottles of mineral water and other objects thrown by the irate crowd into the compound.
A statement issued by GMA said ''the overwhelming response of the audience'' prompted the station's senior press liaison to thank all those who joined the game. ''What we found out was that some people just misunderstood the mechanics,'' said Winston de la Cruz, a promo manager at GMA. ''Everything we did was legitimate. There was nothing that we did wrong. We followed the mechanics.''
The incident is reminiscent of the Pepsi Cola "349" fiasco in the late 80s, where the number "349" was wrongly announced as the winner of millions of pesos for the lucky holder of the bottle cap bearing the number.
Several thousand persons showed up at Pepsi offices to claim the prize money, and the case dragged in courts in the Philippines for many years. The "349" claimants even banded together and sued in the United States for $400 million in damages.
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
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