GMA-7 sues ABS-CBN over ratings manipulation story
- Zinnia B. Dela Peña () - December 21, 2007 - 12:00am

Broadcast company GMA-7 Network Inc. declared its plans yesterday to file a libel suit against rival ABS-CBN over what it claimed were false allegations of ratings manipulation.

This developed as ABS-CBN secured a minor victory after the Quezon City regional trial court issued an order barring AGB Nielsen Media Research Philippines from releasing results of its TV ratings surveys. 

This was in response to a complaint filed by ABS-CBN alleging AGB Nielsen of releasing tampered nationwide TV ratings.

GMA legal counsel Dick Perez told a news conference of the findings of what could be considered libelous broadcasts of ABS-CBN’s dzMM radio naming the GMA network as being behind an operation to bribe metered households in Bacolod to watch GMA shows to influence ratings.

GMA accused dzMM reporter Junrie Hidalgo of broadcasting the libelous report. Hidalgo had claimed households in Bacolod were told to watch GMA shows in exchange for P500 in cash or groceries.

Perez said the GMA management has referred the issue to its lawyers to file the appropriate charges against ABS-CBN over the libelous broadcast.

Perez said this was what GMA found libelous – “AGB Nielsen umamin sa dayaan.  GMA Network tahasang tinuro sa likod ng dayaan (AGB Nielsen admitted the fraud and pointed to GMA behind the manipulation).”

“It shouldn’t be long before we file a case against ABS-CBN. GMA reserves the right to take such action as may be warranted, to protect our interests and reputation,” Perez said.

Rikki Escudero, head of Regional TV operations of GMA, pointed out the affidavit submitted by Maya Reforma of AGB Nielsen in court has denied the accusation.

“In Reforma’s affidavit, she said that ‘there is no evidence that shows any significant impact on NUTAM data as a result of the activities purportedly launched by GMA’,” Escudero said.

Escudero added ABS-CBN’s claims are illogical since GMA’s ratings in the provinces, particularly in the Visayas and Mindanao, have not made any significant improvement since July this year when it started to subscribe to the ratings of AGB. 

She also stressed GMA has been spending heavily to strengthen its signal, expand its reach and for legitimate promos for its programs in Visayas and Mindanao.

“GMA values integrity and hard work as reflected by the credibility of its programs and its corporate core values. It is not GMA’s style to play dirty. GMA programs are preferred and trusted by viewers in Luzon, Mega Manila and Metro Manila as proven by the ratings,” Escudero said. 

“A trial by publicity is not only unfair and damaging to GMA but also to its millions of loyal viewers,” Escudero said.

Escudero claimed GMA itself has been complaining to ABG for four years now about the highly unexplainable disparity between the cable and non-cable ratings of GMA’s programs.

ABS-CBN filed the complaint against AGB Nielsen stemming from the claims of an informant that he was hired to locate and bribe metered households to change the programs they are watching in Bacolod. This practice has been going on for two years, according to its informant.

To come up with TV ratings, a research agency will set up a panel of homes that are randomly sampled to represent the viewing behavior of homes in the areas covered by the study.

ABS-CBN said the disinformation forced advertisers to make the wrong decision.

Given the impact it has on the decisions of networks and advertisers, ABS-CBN has demanded that AGB Nielsen Media Research shut down its service and investigate the degree to which their panel has been breached.

ABS BACOLOD CBN CITY GMA PLACE RATINGS
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