Gordon to Teo: Why place ads on 'Kilos Pronto' if it's not rating?

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Richard Gordon questioned the decision of the Department of Tourism (DOT) to place ads on Kilos Pronto, a blocktimer show on state-run Peoples' Television Network Inc (PTV), "even if it's not rating."

During the Senate probe into the controversial P60-million tourism ad placements from DOT on Tuesday, August 14, Gordon said that Kilos Pronto did not even top the list of PTV shows with high ratings for it to be considered a good slot for ad placements.

"Kilos Pronto's rating on PTV4 is number 83. That's already PTV4. Number 1 here is lotto. But even if you remove other individual shows on that period, it would still show that Kilos Pronto ranks number 37," Gordon, chair of the Senate blue ribbon committee, said in a mix of English and Filipino.

"Why would you advertise, Wanda, Secretary Teo, [on] a program that is not rating even within its own network?" he asked. 

Kilos Pronto is a blocktimer show on PTV produced by Ben Tulfo's Bitag Media. A blocktimer is an independent production company whose shows and programs are aired over a network or channel. 

The program was supposedly chosen by the DOT for its "high ratings and popularity." 

Former tourism secretary Wanda Teo maintained that it was PTV's suggestion to place ads on her brothers' show. 

"It was PTV4. They already suggested Kilos Pronto. They made a proposal to us. They didn't give us the ratings. Just like how we advertise with TV stations ABS-CBN, GMA," Teo said as she answered Gordon's question.

Ben Tulfo later clarified that the ratings cited by Gordon were from May to August this year, when they had already pulled out Kilos Pronto from PTV.

"Eh wala nang 'Kilos Pronto', pinull-out namin kasi controversial (There's no longer Kilos Pronto, we pulled it out because it was controversial)," Tulfo said. 

PTNI President Dino Apolonio also explained that Kilos Pronto was among the suggestions, given that it is a "news magazine" type of show. 

"When we developed the concept of what to propose, we [included] newscast [and] public affairs shows. That's why Kilos Pronto was there, because the description is fitting," Apolonio said.

Still, Gordon asked why government would advertise tourism on Kilos Pronto, an "exposé" type of show. 

Quantity over quality? According to Tourism Undersecretary Katherine de Castro, they chose Kilos Pronto because "it's the cheapest deal" they could get.

Teo added that it was the President's directive for government agencies to work with the state-run television station.

But Gordon, a former tourism secretary himself, did not seem to buy this excuse, saying that DOT chose a low rating show instead of achieving maximum results.

"Kahit na sinabi ng President na tulungan ang PTV4, kailangan pa rin gamitin ang ulo para mag-advertise sa tamang programa," he said. (Even if the President said that you should help PTV4, you still need to use your head to advertise on the right shows.)

"That's [in] the Constitution: you have to exercise due diligence. Undersecretary de Castro, you are the bids and awards [committee], you are pouring funds on a show that did not rate, just so you can place it on PTV4," he added.

According to Teo, they also placed ads on television networks ABS-CBN and GMA, and paid P23 million each. They also contracted the services of CNN for P20 million.

Less earnings for PTV: State auditor Norma Aquino said they flagged the transaction because 75% of the P120-million deal went to Bitag Media instead of PTV, given that it was an independent company.

Apolonio said PTV paid some P102 million to Bitag Media. The last tranche of payment to Bitag Media was no longer processed.

He also said that PTNI only earned P20 million from the deal. – Rappler.com

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Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.