Editorial: Exclusivity

THERE was a bit of a policy dance to the Sinulog beat.

Enters this scene: Sinulog Foundation Inc.’s (SFI) contract with local cable channel MyTV restricting other entities from doing live video coverage of the Sinulog grand parade’s culmination at the Cebu City Sports Complex (CCSC) on Jan. 19, 2020.

The contract was signed on Jan. 11, 2020, and notices were sent to major television stations, particularly GMA and ABS-CBN.

In the letters, SFI president Pericles P. Dakay told the stations that MyTV “has the exclusive rights to take video and television footage of the Sinulog 2020 celebration, particularly at the stage at the CCSC on the day of the event...”

On Jan. 13, the two stations met with MyTV, agreeing to the setup that they may tap the cable station’s coverage, but with the latter’s logo embedded on live feed. They’d only need the “consent” of MyTV through its general manager Valeriano S. Avila.

Asked about the policy’s implications to social media live streaming, Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella assured that there would be no such restriction. But Avila said otherwise, citing the contract provision that covers social media streaming; MyTV will likewise broadcast via its YouTube channel.

In all of Sinulog’s 40 years, live coverage of the culmination at the CCSC has always been an open affair. What the old guards of the SFI, under the then leadership of Ricky Ballesteros, was to designate non-intrusive spots for media.

This year’s SFI executive director Elmer “Jojo” Labella, who is the mayor’s brother, said they offered to media companies the sponsorship of an exclusive live coverage. He said only Avila signified interest for the exclusive TV rights.

While there was assurance that anyone can tap on MyTV’s coverage, there was also the condition to keep the cable TV’s watermark on all live feed. That was MyTV’s quid pro quo; the exclusivity becomes its selling point, allowing it the advantage to corner a good number of advertisers.

But the exclusivity contract created quite a stir that, later in the day, the mayor had to order the SFI not to implement the contract, and if it is any consolation to MyTV, it will have the first option to pick a spot for its live feed.

All’s well. However, we get the impression that these new kids in the block as far as the festival management is concerned are trying to institute new things without rethinking their implications. We also fear their vulnerability to opportunistic game changers who are out to herd just about any chance to haul profit.

There is no problem with seizing business opportunities in a very public occasion. But there must be fair game.