ABS-CBN remains undeterred in its battle against the alleged cheating in the television ratings survey being conducted nationwide by AGB Nielsen Media Research Philippines.
This, despite the decision handed out by the Quezon City Regional Trial Court, earlier today, January 7, dismissing the P63-million civil case filed by ABS-CBN against the media research firm last December 14, 2007.
The Lopez-owned network filed the case after AGB Nielsen allegedly failed to conduct an investigation on the reports of "bribery" and "cheating" in the area of Bacolod as revealed by an "informant." According to the informant identified only as "Gary," they were hired to bribe and convince the panel households tapped in the ratings survey in the area of Bacolod to switch channels in favor of a particular "network"—consequently disrupting the normal viewing behavior of the sampled households.
Late last week, ABS-CBN presented its new batch of "witnesses,"—identified through their aliases, "Rico," "Jonel," and "Letty"—which was meant to bolster its case against AGB Nielsen Media Research Philippines.
According to the court's verdict meted out this morning, the legal complaint served by ABS-CBN against AGB Nielsen Media Research Philippines was "prematurely filed," thus dismissing the case altogether.
NO LETTING UP. In response to the court's decision, ABS-CBN issued a statement to PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) sent through e-mail explaining the network's stand in the face of this recent development.
The letter prepared by ABS-CBN Head of Corporate Communications Bong Osorio states:
"The public will not be denied the truth because of a mere technicality. ABS-CBN will continue its fight and file a motion for reconsideration. Our case and our moral purpose can only get stronger, as more and more witnesses are coming out to tell the truth about cheating in the ratings.
"The fight for a clean and fair TV ratings process is a crusade that ABS-CBN will continue. Our witnesses' courage and passion for truth inspire us and fortify our will to fight for a clean and fair TV ratings process. We promise to continue telling their stories so the public will know how ratings are being manipulated.
"Cheating is not data error and can never be considered as such. Bribing households equipped with TV meters to change their members' viewing behavior should be condemned. Acknowledging that it exists and refusing to clean the process is tantamount to condoning and allowing cheating to happen.
"Our issue is simple. We want AGB Nielsen to clean up their panels and replace the corrupted ones. The process is difficult, but it is the only way that AGB Nielsen can demonstrate its sincerity, intention, and determination to have a clean and fair TV ratings data for the media industry and the viewing public.
"We ask the media industry to join our crusade for clean and fair TV ratings process. We trust that in due time, we will be allowed to present our evidence to enable the court to determine who is telling the truth."
WELCOME DEVELOPMENT. The court, through the orders of Presiding Judge Samuel Gaerlan, also asked ABS-CBN to submit their counter-affidavit within 15 days in response to the P15-million damage suit filed by fierce rival, GMA-7, against them last January 3.
GMA-7 decided to pursue a legal case against the Kapamilya network after the latter allegedly implicated GMA as the group behind the reported anomaly to alter the rating figures through their "promotional campaign."
Lauding the court's decision, GMA Network said in a brief statement forwarded to PEP this afternoon:
"GMA Network welcomes the dismissal by the court of the case filed by ABS-CBN against AGB Nielsen. The Network believes that there was no basis for the case filed by ABS-CBN.
"The Network agrees with the decision of Judge Charito Gonzales of the RTC of Quezon City that ABS-CBN prematurely filed the case against AGB Nielsen based on the terms of their Service Contract for TV Audience Measurement."