Seares: TV-radio ads and rules Comelec can’t enforce

IF THE broadcast industry isn’t too vigorous in its objection to new limits on TV and radio advertising, it must be due to Comelec’s poor track record in rule enforcement.

Since 2004, the quota of 120 minutes (for TV) and 180 minutes (for radio) had applied to each broadcast network. A estimate said it granted each candidate five 15-seconder TV spots per network while the new rule starting this year grants only two 15-seconder TV spots per network, assuming he evenly spreads his ad budget.

“Aggregate” counting means fewer exposures for the candidate and, for the broadcast sector, less revenue than in past elections. Still, advertising firms estimate P2 billion for 2013 election ads, the bigger chunk going to TV and radio.

But there are ways to go around the law, such as “package deals” that give extra exposure in the form of news interviews and repeat airing in provincial stations, not to mention covert block-time programs disguised as public affairs.

Cap on time

The cap is on time, not on amount paid by each candidate. That plus other devices, such as party or group ads where counting shared time can be tricky, will douse public optimism.

In 2010, for example, both the Aquino and Villar camps exceeded TV ad quotas two weeks into the campaign. They and other violators were not prosecuted.

Comelec hasn’t jailed or fined a candidate or broadcast network that defied airtime limits. Tell us if it has.

There’s little point about those rules except that having them is still better than having none.

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