JUST hours after seeing the social media backlash, Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella announced that the Sinulog grand parade would remain open to local and national media.
The public too may continue to take videos of the contingent presentations at the Cebu City Sports Center grand stage during the Sinulog culminating activity this Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020.
Labella said in a press conference Wednesday, Jan. 15, “I would like to thank the Sinulog Foundation Inc. (SFI) and (Valeriano) ‘Bobit’ Avila, that through our representation, they would not implement the exclusivity contract between Sinulog Foundation and MyTV.”
“In other words, it is now open to all. All media outlets and whoever regardless of your media affiliation, you are all allowed to have access to cover the Sinulog Grand Parade 2020,” Labella added.
Prior to the mayor’s announcement, a SunStar Cebu report in its Wednesday issue on the exclusivity restriction was shared on Facebook and got commented on by people who mostly disagreed with the contract between SFI and MyTV.
SFI president Pericles Dakay earlier wrote to television networks ABS-CBN and GMA to inform them that with MyTVs exclusive coverage sponsorship, “all other media, television, private persons and companies are excluded from the grandstage coverage of Sinulog 2020.” Under the paid agreement entered between MyTV and SFI, anyone who takes videos of the Sinulog activity at the grandstand will need the permission of MyTV.
On social media, the reaction was immediate and numerous.
“It seems like the SFI just wanted a video coverage sponsor and wasn’t aware of what it would mean to have MyTV as the EXCLUSIVE coverage sponsor. Bad move to just agree to important things without considering the full impact but good move on MyTV’s part, I guess they’re getting all the exposure they want. Bantay bitaw’g walay ayo inyong video. The pressure is on you now,” said Sav Gitara in his Facebook comment.
Another netizen, Ellona Pearl Valenzuela, said: “I totally disagree because Sinulog is for everyone. And everybody should have access, especially those who are not from Cebu so that they could also feel the fun and the essence of the celebration.”
Ricky Ballesteros, former SFI executive director, said: “The Sinulog is all about publicity and promotion. It is what it is now because of the big help of media. Do you think it will become popular without the help of the media? We are selling Cebu through Sinulog so tourists will come to Cebu. Now they are selling the rights for exclusive TV coverage for P800,000? That cheap?”
He wondered how tourists and the balikbayan would be stopped from taking videos of the grandstand performances.
But Avila, MyTV general manager, said in an interview Wednesday that restricting the public was never discussed or demanded in the exclusive coverage sponsorship. The exclusivity was only meant for the TV networks, Avila said.
Mayor Labella said the contract’s cancellation was his response to the public’s sentiment against the restriction.
He also said the presence of President Rodrigo Duterte during the Sinulog grand parade will be something that should be covered by all media outlets.
The mayor said he was not aware of the exclusive coverage contract worked out by SFI. “As mayor and chairman of the Sinulog Governing Board, wala ko kahibawo (I was not aware) because this was a contract entered into by SFI and Bobit Avila. I don’t have a hand in this,” he said. But, he added, when he learned of the exclusivity contract and heard the complaints of the public, he saw the need to step in.
Labella said MyTV will still be a major sponsor in this year’s Sinulog and, as such, it was given the right to choose where to position itself in the grandstand area.
Despite the cancellation of the exclusive coverage agreement, MyTV did not withdraw the P800,000 it paid for the exclusive rights as it is still a major sponsor.
Vice Mayor Michael Rama, former SFI chairman, questioned the agreement saying the Sinulog is a public event and it is not right to have restrictions and exclusivity. “How can I be agreeing with that exclusive coverage? What is the coverage of MyTV?” he asked. “It’s not in (free) TV, (it) cannot be accessed by all, then it’s a restriction.” (PAC, JJL / MVG)