After all the hue and cry over the Jan-Jan Suan incident in social networks and mass media, the 30-day suspension imposed by the MTRCB, moves from the DSWD and the Commission on Human Rights to charge Willie with child abuse, TV5 has chosen to resurrect "Willing Willie" under a new name, "Wil Time, Bigtime."
It is interesting to note that in response to the complaints against Willie, the station came up with self-regulatory measures like coming up with more stringent screening process for children and appointing an internal Ombudsman who will "ensure that performances are age appropriate." The station also voluntarily stopped airing the show on April 11. (That's not self-regulation. The network had no choice. Major sponsors had pulled out of the show.)
These measures, however, do not address the root of the problem. It was not the screening process that led to Jun Jun's maltreatment. It was not the program that was offensive. It was Willie and yet I have not seen any statement from TV 5 condemning his behavior. In fact, the network's lawyer defended Revillame's actions.
I watched two episodes of "Wil Time" this week and noticed two things. In the MTRCB order suspending the show, TV5 had to get a permit for every episode. (Ordinarily, permits are good for three months or longer.) I thought the Board would be strict and ask for a tape of the show before it is aired.
Apparently, it decided to be lenient and opted for a post-airing review.
Secondly, major sponsors like Unilever, Procter and Gamble, Del Monte, and Jollibee who suspended their placements last month have not returned to the show. The heaviest advertiser was Smart, which is a sister company of TV5. I also monitored commercials for Cignal Digital TV, another affiliate of the network. There were also lots of plugs for TV5 shows including "Wil Time Bigtime." There were other advertisers but not that many considering the show runs for close to three hours.
I don't know if this is just a matter of scheduling. When Unilever and the others pulled out of "Willing Willie" they probably shifted their placements to other shows. It may take a while to realign their budgets if they opt to support the new show. Or have they decided to suspend their placements on Willie's show permanently?
This is what I wrote two weeks ago: "Several blogs ago, I said it was time for Willie to leave television. I'm afraid that's not going to happen real soon unless...major advertisers who pulled out from the show do not make a comeback. Didn't they withdraw their support because of Willie's behavior? Do they honestly believe that this arrogant host will ever change his ways? I doubt it very much. So, Unilever, Procter and Gamble, Del Monte, Jollibee, Lhuillier, CDO, the ball is in your court."
The Kapatid network, however, seems to be confident that these advertisers will be back. Or else why spend more than P16 million on a LED(Light Emitting Diode) flooring and millions more on software and screens on the walls? Visually, the makeover did improve the look of the show. I wish, though, that they had spent some of that money to improve program content.
Willie's co-host, Shalani Soledad, still has not improved and continues to project a "mahinhin" image that contrasts with the other hyper female hosts. Her low-key performance does not suit the show, at all.
For his part, Revillame continues to play Santa Claus to the audience giving away cash and cell phones. The bulk of the cash was given away to the winners in the different games. One unsuccessful contestant, an elderly woman, got cash anyway to pay for a carabao and bus tickets to get back home to Butuan.
That's what makes Willie so popular with his audience. In other variety shows like "Happy, Yipee, Yehey" and "Eat Bulaga," the cash prizes are given away by several hosts. On TV 5, Willie is the cash dispenser so people may have the wrong impression that the money comes from his pocket.