MTRCB requires TV morning show ‘Unang Hirit’ to apologize
The Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) has ordered the producers of GMA 7’s “Unang Hirit” to issue a public apology and pay a fine of P20,000 for an episode where news anchor Arnold Clavio berated a guest.
In the Nov. 5 episode of the morning program, Clavio used what the MTRCB deemed was “rude language” in interviewing Alfredo Villamor, counsel for businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles.
The board said that in response to a memorandum released on Dec. 4 by its ad hoc committee, GMA 7 promised to air a statement acknowledging that the “Unang Hirit” interview “should have been done differently … and that Clavio … crossed the line of proper conduct.”
Also in compliance with the MTRCB order, the statement, which should air for three consecutive days, is supposed to include: “The program likewise offers its apologies to Villamor in particular, the public in general, and especially to all the members of the legal profession who may have been offended by the words and actions of Clavio.”
The memo pointed out that the program “failed to take immediate, effective and timely intervention” to prevent the broadcast of the interview “with indecorous language and demeanor.”
Thus, it said, the committee was “constrained” to impose the P20,000 fine and required “Unang Hirit” to undergo “a period of close collaboration for one month” to ensure child-sensitive and youth-friendly programming in future episodes.
The committee required network executives and Clavio to attend a mandatory seminar with MTRCB chair Eugenio Villareal “on media and the legal profession in the context of both audience-sensitivity and the administration of justice.” (The seminar was set Tuesday and Wednesday, at the MTRCB office in Quezon City.)
During Clavio’s phone interview with Villamor, the news anchor commented: “Pang-sira ka ng araw eh (You’re ruining my day),” and “Tatawa-tawa ka pa (You can still laugh).” Two days later, Clavio issued a statement, admitting he had gone overboard. “I ask for your understanding if I said anything offensive,” he said.
Clavio explained that Villamor was the only lawyer with whom he could discuss Napoles’ hearing on the P10-billion pork barrel scam after counsel Lorna Kapunan resigned. The anchor was visibly irritated when Villamor failed to answer certain questions.
The MTRCB pointed out the importance of heeding the Code of Professional Responsibility, which states: “A lawyer is prohibited from making public statements in the media regarding a pending case tending to arouse public opinion for or against a party.”
The Board added: “Certainly, neither the program nor Clavio … can insist on eliciting statements from Villamor as regards matters beyond the latter’s professional engagement.” During the interview, Villamor repeatedly told Clavio that he was not in a position to discuss the pork-barrel hearing since he was in charge only of Napoles’ case on serious illegal detention.
Meanwhile, the MTRCB also summoned the producers of GMA 7’s gag show “Bubble Gang” to a mandatory conference on the “alleged discriminatory and derogatory portrayal of women” in its Nov. 29 episode.
The segment, “D Adventures of Susie Luwalhati,” drew complaints from the MTRCB’s monitoring and inspection unit because it showed the character Susie (Rufa Mae Quinto), “clad in a skimpy, low-neckline tank top,” applying for a job as cook and seller of puto bumbong.
In the skit, the stall owner (played by Beethoven Bunagan or Michael V) showed Susie how to cook and remove the puto bumbong from its bamboo tube. This, the MTRCB memo said, “while a group of men ogled, apparently with sexually oriented delight as her breasts shook vigorously [as she handled] the bamboo tube … Susie gave the impression, quite arguably, that she was simulating male self-abuse.”
Citing Republic Act No. 9710 or the Magna Carta of Women, the memo added: “It appears that the segment stereotypically portrayed a woman as an object of rather frivolous, albeit carnal, delight. When women are treated as commodities, they are disrespected and degraded … It cannot be helped for one to surmise that even the name of Quinto’s character is from the Filipino word for breasts. This arguably magnifies an overall intent on the part of the program to typecast the woman as a mere sex object.”
The conference, attended by network executive Eva Arespacochaga, program director Uro de la Cruz and talents Bunagan and Quinto, was held on Dec. 9 at the MTRCB office. According to a subsequent post on the board’s official Twitter account, the show has promised to ensure gender-sensitive content.
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