Manila, September 3, 2003  (STAR) HIDDEN AGENDA By Mary Ann Ll. Reyes  - Here’s the scoop: GMA Broadcasting Corp. has withdrawn its membership from the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP).

In a letter dated last Monday, GMA chairman Felipe Gozon informed KBP chairman Cerge Remonde about the network’s decision although no reasons were stated in the letter.

Highly placed sources who were privy to previous talks between GMA and KBP on the matter however informed this writer that the network may be attempting to preempt an upcoming decision of the KBP to suspend GMA for certain violations of the Television Code.

The first ground for suspension is obscenity, in particular certain ‘foul’ statements uttered by Starktalk host Rossana Roces in her show aired over GMA 7. The second one involves GMA news anchor Mike Enriquez who in several instances lambasted rival ABS-CBN on air, which is expressly prohibited in the Code. The third one is commercial overloading.

Current rules of the Ad Board provide that the maximum allowable commercial load per hour of broadcast is 18 minutes. There are several justifications for this. The Ad Board has to protect the interest of the TV viewers. Another reason is to protect the advertisers. Too many ads will diminish the effectiveness of the ads as far as recall is concerned. The limit is also designed to make sure that one or two TV stations do not corner all the ad revenues to the detriment of the other stations.

Sources say that GMA 7 has been asking KBP to increase the load limit, but its request has been denied.

The KBP board is meeting today to discuss GMA’s pull out. There is however a growing sentiment among the board members not to allow GMA-7 to withdraw its membership until after the suspension is meted out.

GMA’s pullout from KBP came as a big surprise to the industry especially since the current president of KBP, Atty. Veloso is a representative from GMA 7.

What are the repercussions for GMA 7 if it is finally allowed to withdraw its membership from the KBP?

Who will now regulate GMA considering that the industry has agreed on self-regulation? (they adopted on their own the Television Code while the Ad Board consists of industry representatives). If the network is no longer in the family of the Ad Board, it can commit any violation it wants, and will be answerable only to the MTRCB.

But the more severe backlash of its decision to pull out will come from the advertising industry, the bread and butter of the television industry. Already, some ad agencies have already been asking what guarantees do they have that their rights will be protected and that they will not be shortchanged by GMA 7.

At present, the only UHF TV station which is not a member of KBP is Channel 4, not because it does not want to, but because the rules of the industry prohibit the airing of shows dealing with gambling (lotto).

In wanting more in terms of commercial load, GMA 7 may end losing more.

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Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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