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At Large

‘Endo’ in PTV-4

Surely it’s an irony that the media covering, reporting and commenting on an issue like “endo” — in which workers are let go once they reach the “end of contract” period, typically before they become eligible for permanent employment — are frequently affected by “endo” themselves.

Most “onscreen” personalities — newscasters, reporters, announcers, hosts — are not considered employees but “talents,” covered by contracts that, depending on the talent’s prominence or value to the network, can last for many years, or months. And sometimes, these contracts can even be preterminated if, for one reason or another, the relationship no longer works. But it’s not just the on-cam talents affected. Even those behind the camera — producers, researchers, writers, technicians, creatives, camera operators themselves — are likewise hired on an “endo” basis. Indeed, some speculate that the majority of broadcast workers are contractuals, subject to abrupt termination with no job security or benefits.

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The case of Kathy San Gabriel is a particularly stark example of the plight of many TV talents.

Granted, she was the anchor of the evening newscast of the government TV station PTV-4, not exactly a household face and name given the basement ranking of the station in most surveys. But she had been headlining the main newscast for 11 years, and if that didn’t make her the “face” and “voice” of PTV-4, then I don’t know what would.

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As San Gabriel told it, she was called to the office of PTV-4’s general manager last Wednesday, and then and there was told that she would be the anchor of the evening newscast only until Friday, June 30.

Apparently, San Gabriel’s termination was decided by management as part of a bigger “overhaul” of the state-run station’s news programs. Also terminated along with San Gabriel was history professor Xiao Chua, who was her cohost and the host of another history-oriented show that had been airing for five years.

Also reportedly terminated were two PTV-4 reporters and a production assistant, though Chua said the terminations had been taking place for many months.

Still, the manner in which San Gabriel was let go seems especially mean, given her decade’s worth of service with the station. She had been planning, she said, to bid a formal farewell to PTV-4 viewers during her final newscast, but got a text message (an increasingly rude tactic these days) the day before from an underling at the station saying that PTV-4 bosses had reacted “negatively” to her FB posts, along with those of Chua, touching on her termination.

In an interview with Rappler, San Gabriel said she would not “force myself on them if they don’t want me anymore.” But, she added, she had at least hoped that “they could have been more humane and given me more time to prepare emotionally and financially.”

It doesn’t seem as if the termination of San Gabriel and the others is due to budget constraints. Secretary Martin Andanar, in a recent dinner with journalists, even boasted that PTV-4’s facilities and equipment were recently upgraded. And there is of course the hiring of “editors” for the blogs and tweets of Mocha Uson, Andanar’s assistant secretary, who, aside from earning a huge salary, has been accused of indulging in “fake news.”

San Gabriel’s ouster coincides with the report that third-ranking station TV-5 will take disciplinary action against reporter-anchor Ed Lingao and the brothers Ben and Erwin Tulfo. Lingao and the Tulfos had been engaged in an escalating word war since Lingao took Erwin Tulfo to task for reacting on air, in an expletive-laden rant, to a “fake news” report on Sen. Risa Hontiveros’ purported support for the Maute brothers.

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Interestingly, Ben Tulfo later posted a video of him chiding TV-5 for saying it was disciplining him since he was already leaving the station anyway. Could Erwin Tulfo, who hosts a radio and TV show, be far behind? And could the sudden freelance status of the Tulfos, vocal supporters of President Duterte and brothers of Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo, have anything to do with Kathy San Gabriel’s fate?

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TAGS: At Large, broadcasting, end of contract, endo, Inquirer Opinion, Kathy San Gabriel, PTV-4, Rina Jimenez-David
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