How ‘Jan-Jan’ woke up local TV industry

Published by rudy Date posted on May 1, 2011

MANILA, Philippines—In the past few weeks, the TV landscape has been rocked by the aftershocks of a scandal that erupted after Jan-Jan, a 6-year-old boy, performed what was described as a “macho dance” in the TV5 game show “Willing Willie.”

ABS-CBN has also been criticized because of little girls who performed a “sexy” number in “Showtime” and child stars who are portrayed in adult situations in “Going Bulilit.”

“In a way, the Jan-Jan incident in ‘Willing Willie’ was a wake-up call for the entire broadcasting industry,” ABS-CBN Network ombudsman Jose Vitug told Inquirer Entertainment.

As lawsuits and probes commenced from all sides, the Kapamilya network buckled down to work, drafting its own Child Protection Handbook.

“ABS-CBN has always been sensitive to the special requirements of children,” said Vitug, a retired Supreme Court justice. “The recent controversy merely highlighted the need for reiteration and elaboration of those guidelines.”

Vitug said the current draft of the Child Protection Handbook includes “comprehensive discussions on the network’s commitment to child welfare.”

It contains the network’s standards and definition of terms (like “child labor” and “normal development of a child”), Vitug explained.

The handbook was written in light of child-labor prohibitions as mandated by relevant laws he added.

Republic Act 9231, he pointed out, seeks to “eliminate the worst forms of child labor” and RA 7610 aims “to protect children against abuse, exploitation and discrimination.” The Department of Labor and Employment Direct Order 65-04 contains the implementing rules and regulations on the two laws.

Ethical code

Vitug said the network is a signatory to the 2007 Broadcast Code formulated by the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP).

As a KBP member, ABS-CBN adheres to the code, which “reminds TV networks that children should not be required, coerced or bribed to narrate traumatic experiences on shows … that they should not be ridiculed, diminished or demeaned, and camera angles shouldn’t be used to create indecent and inappropriate images.”

Bong Osorio, head of the network’s corporate communications, told the Inquirer that the first draft of the handbook is being reviewed by the ombudsman. “The process of finalization should take no more than a couple of weeks,” he said.

Reacting to criticisms that the network had received because of “Showtime” and “Going Bulilit,” Vitug said: “Regardless of the show, the Office of the Network Ombudsman feels strongly that children should be treated with care, respect and dignity. They shouldn’t be subjected to exploitation, embarrassment, harassment or humiliation in whatever manner.”

Osorio said ABS-CBN will participate in the industry-wide summit being planned by the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board to discuss pertinent issues. “We will contribute our share to this effort.”

The network also set up the Call Monitoring System, an instant feedback-mechanism meant to entertain complaints from viewers.

“Anyone can call our trunk line, 415-2272, anytime. Phone agents will answer calls and take down feedback from viewers 24-7. These comments are then forwarded to the show’s production staff,” Osorio said.–Bayani San Diego Jr., Philippine Daily Inquirer


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