Comelec urged to look into allegedly high fees of media campaign ads

Angelica Y. Yang - Philstar.com
Comelec urged to look into allegedly high fees of media campaign ads
This file photo shows the Commission on Elections headquarters in Manila.
Philstar.com / AJ Bolando, file

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Imee Marcos asked the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to look into the alleged practice of some media outlets in overcharging for political advertisements as elections draw closer, which, if proven, runs counter to the Fair Election Act.

This comes shortly after Sen. Koko Pimentel called for a probe into the allegedly unreasonable rates which broadcast and TV outlets were charging to political candidates this year. 

The Fair Election Act allows candidates to avail of "reasonable rates" and discounts to promote advertisements through media.

The act states that TV and radio stations must charge advertising rates lower by 50% and 40%, respectively, to registered political parties and bona fide candidates, based on the averages of published rates in the last three years before elections.

Speaking on behalf of advertising agencies, Pacquiao family business manager Arnold Vegafria said companies that want to place advertisements do not usually pay the published rates of media outlets. 

"It depends on the company but normally, we did [sic] not follow the published rate, so that's not actually the rate that we're paying. We're actually paying what every company has negotiated. It depends how much they give [and] how much [is] the budget of every company," he said in an online hearing on Friday.

Marcos, who led the senate probe, asked Comelec to promptly look into the matter.

"I'm going to ask you to [look into this] very, very soon because as you know, the campaign period begins almost immediately," Sen. Imee Marcos told Comelec.

'We never heard of negotiated rates'

Comelec head of the campaign finance Efrain Bag-id said they never heard about the existence of "negotiated" advertising rates.

"It's only now that we know that there is a negotiated rate being done among the media entities and ad agencies, and these are not being submitted to the Comelec," he said. 

Bag-id added that they will promptly look into the senators' concerns. 

Meanwhile, GMA Network Chief Marketing Officer Lizelle Maralag, who was also in the hearing, said that they are "strict with adhering to the law", adding that they apply their published rate cards "to select accounts."

However, she couldn't name the clients, as they are bound by a confidentiality agreement. 

Maralag explained that airing a 30-second advertisement on the network's shows can range from P420,000 to P646,000, according to the rate cards this year. For her, these rates are already discounted by as much as 77%.




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