MANILA, Philippines—Broadcast network TV5 sees no reason to axe controversial game-show host Willie Revillame, who, according to company officials, has been unfairly cast in the public light as a child abuser.
The company expressed confidence that advertisers would return to support the TV5’s flagship program, “Willing Willie," and that Revillame would stay with the network.
TV5 president Ray C. Espinosa said a significant portion of TV5’s revenues has been coming from the primetime game show, a co-production between the network and Revillame’s production company WilProductions.
“Definitely, Willing Willie is our flagship program,” Espinosa said in a recent interview. “Obviously, we are in discussion with the advertisers. They pulled out because of the pressure coming from social networking sites,” Espinosa said.
Certain changes would have to be made to improve the quality of the content in Willing Willie, Espinosa said, without going into detail. But he said the network planned to change the “look and feel” of the hit game show. He stressed that the show, one of the few that have become profitable on the still-growing network, would stay on air.
Some groups have called on the show’s advertisers to boycott Revillame. This came after 10-minute video circulated in social networking sites that showed a six-year-old boy was shown dancing in a lewd manner, as described by several groups, including some government agencies.
The boy, named Jan-Jan Suan, was shown crying for being forced to dance by Revillame.
“That video was much abridged and spliced. It was edited to make it appear that he was crying the whole time,” Espinosa said. He maintained that Suan cried because he was scared of former basketball player Bonel Balingit, who was a talent on the show.
Suan cried again, Espinosa said, after being booted out of the game after he lost. The Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) has launched a probe on the incident to determine whether the dance was obscene and if Jan-Jan’s rights were violated.
Espinosa said the video was taken out of context because of the way it was edited. He said Suan was on the show for over 48 minutes and that parts of the show in between his dances were not shown in the clip posted on YouTube.com.
“I think this issue has generated more attention than the recent issues of corruption in the military. Four agencies are already looking in to it,” Espinosa said, referring to the MTRCB, the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the Commission on Human Rights and the Department of Justice.
Espinosa said the accusations against Revillame being a child abuser, among others, were “overkill” and even libelous in some cases.
Espinosa said the company has been drafting guidelines on the appearance of children on its shows, covering both entertainment and news programming.
“The incident is definitely not a reason for him to be taken off air,” Espinosa said.
Revillame is currently on voluntary leave.
Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer