Education Secretary Jesli Lapus caused for the pull out of the “Spelling Bee” TV ads of air cargo forwarding service LBC Express Inc. in May after “it drew a flak from local officials and parents over its wrong message”.
There were two versions of the TV ad before it was pulled out by LBC from the air. The “remittance” and the “affordable” versions where both spelling bee participants answered “LBC” as the spelling for “remittance” and “affordable”.
Lapus wrote LBC management about the perils of the TV ad to the children. “We respect the advertiser’s right to promote the product or service that it offers but we believe that this type of advertisement would tend to confuse young viewers,” Lapus said. “Mass media, particularly television, exert a very strong influence on the minds of the young,” he added.
Many times i’d told my advertising class that the rule always applied in advertising is “always tweak the rule“. In the Philippines, advertising is considered by those in the business as a free expression guaranteed by our constitution (Art. 3 Sec. 4: No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press…. ) Thus, to date there is no law regulating advertising. However, the Adboard (Philippine Advertising Board)–composed of advertising organizations– has its own Code of Ethics as the guiding principle of its members.
But like in most organizations the Code of Ethics is just a piece of paper which could not send its violators to jail. Most likely it would only suspend or fine the violator. The Philippine Congress has yet to pass an advertising law. What is pending at the House of Representatives are bills on the regulation of outdoor and mobile ads; Ad ban on OTC medicines, food and herbal supplements; prohibiting public officials from endorsing products or services in any form; and others.
The LBC “Spelling Bee” TV ad may be violating the Children’s Television Act of 1997 for exposing the children to wrong messages. But who cares to file a case in court? Children are considered part of the vulnerable group which advertising has an impact.
Advertising is an expression but should not be considered as a freedom of the press. Hence, I go for the passage of an advertising law in the Philippines for the following reasons:
- It’s a PAID message controlled by a sponsor with a vested interest
- Its message is designed to entice people in patronizing a product or service
- It’s not always telling the truth
- It’s affecting vulnerable groups like children
There have been several TV advertisements that were pulled out from the air due to its unacceptable contents. LBC’s “Spelling Bee” is just the latest of it.
LBC’s ads is unmindful, whether intentional or not, of the effect of its message to the children. The Code of Ethics of the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) has explicitly prohibits the exploitation of children in any advertisement. More so, it encourages the use of proper speech and correct pronunciation.
Sec. 7: Children shall be encouraged in the art if correct speech and pronunciation, such that speech and expression detrimental to the language growth of children shall be avoided.
Slang and incorrect pronunciation shall be discouraged except when necessary to characterization, in which case some way of pointing out errors shall be incorporated into the sequence.
Despite the provision, the most that KBP can do for the ads that violated the above code is to order the cessation of the telecast of the particular ad. It’s only an administrative sanction. The code of ethics won’t send any advertiser to jail. Thus, an advertising law must be passed to control the flow of paid messages in the media.
However, a penal provision in the Children Television Act of 1997 (RA 8370) could be used to mete out fines and jail terms to advertisers who “exploits” children. But RA 8370 is so general in nature. It doesn’t speak of using the children in any advertisement and its effect. It is only concerned on the TV programs for children and the children viewing hours.
Again, an advertising law must be passed by congress.
Here are two of the lessons in my advertising class at the USJR:
The Department of Education (DepEd) recently come up with an agreement with the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) and Smart Communications for the monitoring system of television programs aimed at protecting the children.
The monitoring is done during the TV programs aired at 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Viewers may report shows “that depict excessive violence, sex, and foul language aired at a time when many children are watching”.
The complaint can be send in a form of a text message (SMS) using the following format for all SMART subscribers:
- BANTAYTV (space) NAME/AGE/ADDRESS/MESSAGE, then send to 700-6228;
- BANTAYTV (space) TV PROGRAM (space) DATE OF AIRING, then send to 700-6228.
More on this from ABS-CBNnews.com.