CA sets aside suspension of Tulfo brods' show
MANILA - The Court of Appeals (CA) has set aside the suspension order of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) against TV5's "T3 Kapatid Sagot Kita" program for its hosts' utterances against couple Raymart Santiago and Claudine Barretto.
In a 39-page ruling penned by Associate Justice Rosmari Carandang, the appellate court held that the penalties imposed by MTRCB on TV5 were not appropriate for the "threats uttered on T3" by program hosts Raffy, Ben and Erwin Tulfo.
The appellate court ruled that the MTRCB decision against TV5 and T3 is "unwarranted and effectively constituting prior restraint."
The "threats" uttered by the Tulfos stemmed from the alleged mauling of their eldest brother, Mon, by the couple's group in an airport altercation.
The MTRCB imposed a penalty of suspension on the network for 3 months, plus a fine of P100,000 which led TV5 to seek redress before the appellate court.
"[T]he penalty of three months suspension imposed by the MTRCB is much too harsh for the violation. There was no indication from the MTRCB decision that the MTRCB had already punished the T3 program for a similar event in the past.
"The severe penalty that the MTRCB metes out is akin to a single-strike policy which creates an unsparing and oppressive broadcast media environment rather than one which is tolerant, open and constructive," the decision read.
The classification board noted that the hosts' utterances were: (1) made on live television which carried with it the risk that children would be in the audience; (2) it was aired between 5:15pm-5:45pm, again, with the risk that children may be watching; (3) that T3 was a public affairs program; and (4) the utterances were insults and threats while the program was supposed to serve public interest.
The appellate court ruled that "[t]here was nothing in the MTRCB's findings showing that T3 aired unlawful content in a sustained manner and for an extended period but that the physical threats uttered against Santiago was an isolated incident."
The appellate court also noted that the network already suspended the Tulfos and "carried out measures pursuant to its right and duty of self-regulation."
"The significance of this act of self-regulation by TV5 is very crucial in our conclusion that the MTRCB imposed its power in a heavy handed manner and ignored the fact that TV5 franchise's, like that of other television networks, provides for concurrent rights and responsibilities," the decision read.