“Magko-cost cutting raw kasi nalulugi, kailangan raw i-reinvent. Ang taas ng rating, ire-reinvent?”
Tito Sotto reveals “Eat Bulaga!” producers want to implement “cost-cutting” measures because the longest-running noontime show in the Philippines is supposedly losing money.
Sotto made these revelations on the April 25, 2023 episode of “Updated with Nelson Canlas.”
Sotto, his brother Vic Sotto, and friend Joey de Leon are part of the triumvirate TVJ. They have been the main hosts of “Eat Bulaga” since 1979.
A lot of proposed changes were announced last February by Romeo “Romy” Jalosjos, the chairman of TAPE, Inc. (Television and Production Exponents Inc.), which produces “Eat Bulaga!”
Sotto narrates, “There was a general assembly… yung general assembly, ang mga sinabi ni Romy, naging controversial sa marami sa amin. Nandun yung ire-retire pagkatapos ire-rehire [yung production staff], babaguhin yung ganito. Yung income daw niya na P10 million a month, aalisin na niya at gagawing P200,000 a month na lang.”
Calnas clarifies, “Kumbaga, magko-cost cutting?”
Tito Sotto verifies by saying, “Magko-cost cutting raw kasi nalulugi, kailangan raw i-reinvent. Ang taas ng rating, ire-reinvent mo? Hirap na hirap nga yung kalaban.”
What happened after this General Assembly? “Napalitan si Tony,” recalls Sotto.
Who owns “Eat Bulaga”?
Canlas asks Tito Sotto directly: “Who owns ‘Eat Bulaga?'”
Tito Sotto then explains the role of TVJ (Tito, Vic Sotto, and Joey de Leon) in the creation of “Eat Bulaga!”
“If it’s a copyright issue, definitely, it’s owned by Joey de Leon and the three of us. Siya [referring to Joey] ang nag-imbento ng pangalan. Uncontestable. Copyrighted or not—may mga copyright rin sila sa merchandising, yung TAPE, at meron rin kaming naka-file—immaterial yun.”
He reiterates, “If you’re talking of ‘Eat Bulaga,’ it’s owned by Joey de Leon and Tito, Vic, and Joey. If you’re asking about TAPE, TAPE is owned by them,” he says about TAPE, Inc., the producer of “Eat Bulaga.”
In his interview, Sotto also admits he is hurt by the statement that he, Vic Sotto, and Joey de Leon will be “retained” in “Eat Bulaga!” amidst the internal changes being implemented in the noontime show that has been airing for the past 43 years.
“Masagwang pakinggan sa amin yung mare-retain kami,” Sotto points out. “Para bang pwede kaming sipain, e, kami nga ang ‘Eat Bulaga!'”
Sotto says he “takes offense” at these hurtful statements made by the people now running “Eat Bulaga!” “Kami, pigil na pigil kami, ang tagal na naming gustong ilabas lahat yan, pagkatapos biglang babanatan niyo kami ng ganyan.”
Without naming names, Sotto says he decided to speak out “because all of a sudden, one member of the corporation, an officer of the corporation, was interviewed and was not accurate.”
He adds, “As a matter of fact, there were false statements that were made. So, we would rather, and with the consent of Vic and Joey, that we would rather explain and elaborate or perhaps give light to what is true on some of these statements that were made.”
It will be recalled that Bullet Jalosjos, the chief financial officer of TAPE, Inc., admitted that they made several internal changes in “Eat Bulaga.” He revealed this on the April 19, 2023 episode of “Fast Talk with Boy Abunda.”
Jalosjos said that Tony Tuviera, the CEO of TAPE, Inc., wanted to retire even before the pandemic happened. However, Romeo Jalosjos convinced Tuviera to stay with the company.
READ ALSO: Bullet Jalosjos Answers: “Eat Bulaga!” Transferring To A New Network? Vic Sotto Not Paid For Hosting?
What is really happening in “Eat Bulaga?”
Canlas asks: “Ano po ba ang nangyayari sa ‘Eat Bulaga?'”
Tito Sotto answers, “Nabago ang komposisyon… nandun pa rin si Tony Tuviera pero ginusto nila, ginusto ng Board [of Directors] na i-retire si Tony at pumasok yung grupo nila para patakbuhin yung production. Yun ang original na plano. We thought, ‘Hindi pwede. Wala namang diperensiya, e.“
However, Sotto has a revelation in terms of financing.
He says, “May diperensiya sa financing. Malaking diperensiya sa funding pero sa kanilang problema iyon. Problema ng TAPE yun, hindi problema ng ‘Eat Bulaga!’ iyon. TAPE is the producer, ‘Eat Bulaga!’ is the production. ‘Eat Bulaga’! is Tito, Vic, and Joey.”
Sotto then narrates how they managed to continue airing “Eat Bulaga!” even though the hosts did not receive any salary for one year when they were still starting out. Through the “blood, sweat, and tears” of TVJ and Tuviera, they continued to struggle while their fellow co-host Chiqui Hollman decided to leave the show.
“On July 7, 1981, tinayo ang TAPE Inc. From 1980-1981, ang puhunan ng ‘Eat Bulaga,’ blood, sweat, and tears naming tatlo at ni Tony. Umuutang nga si Tony nung mga panahon na iyon. In 1981, TAPE started producing the program. Ganun ang division, TAPE ang producer at ang ‘Eat Bulaga,’ kami.”
The former senator then explains the cycle of advertisements in the Philippines: from January to March, advertising agencies are still planning their annual budgets which is why there are fewer ads placed during this period. However, the -ber months were typically more profitable for the noontime show.
“It’s been that way. Its ups and downs, nakaka-recover. Mayroong panahon rin na nababaong sa utang. Pagdating ng October, November, December: piyesta. Pero pagdating ng January, February, March, gutom, e, kasi yung mga agencies, nagpa-plano pa. Wala pang advertisers masyado.
“Kaya we were always able to carry on. Kaya going back to one of your question: anong nangyari, bakit bigla? Ang sabi sa ‘min, nalulugi raw. Kailangan daw, baguhin ang nagpapatakbo. At kailangan daw i-reinvent ang ‘Eat Bulaga,’ at mayroon daw mga portion na bored sila,” Sotto discloses.
This initially caused some resistance. Tito Sotto narrates, “Yun ang gustong mangyari. Pero sabi namin, hindi pwede. We will be sacrificing the program. Kapag ganyan, hindi tayo magkakasundo-sundo, baka magkakahiwalay-hiwalay tayo. It came to the point na pumayag naman sa gusto namin.”
READ ALSO: Here’s A Round-Up On The Latest “Eat Bulaga!” Controversy
Missing P400 million from political ads
After they came to this agreement, the hosts then noticed that some things did not add up.
“Kaya okay na except lately, ‘ika nga, hindi na let sleeping dogs lie. Lately, biglang a member of the board tells media something else.”
According to Tito Sotto, Vic and Joey did not receive money owed to them by TAPE. “Sinasabi na walang utang kay Tito, Vic and Joey ang TAPE. That’s completely false. Ang laki ng utang kay Vic at kay Joey. Mahigit tig-P30 million pesos ang utang sa kanila, for 2022 alone.”
The TVJ member says they were puzzled by this development.
“Nagtataka kasi kami. Paano mo sasabihing nalulugi ang ‘Eat Bulaga!’ o nalulugi ang TAPE? Baka TAPE ang nalulugi, ang ‘Eat Bulaga!’ hindi. In 2021, SEC [Securities and Exchange Commission] documents show that TAPE had a P213 million net profit for 2021. Paano kang nalugi?”
He adds that the following year, 2022, is an election year. “Ang political ads, nadagdag doon sa regular, at lumuwag na ang COVID. So, you expect better than 2023 net profit na iyon ang ni-report mo. But then again, we were informed that a little over P400 million pesos of political ads that were placed in ‘Eat Bulaga’!’ vanished.”
When asked where the money went, Sotto responds by telling Canlas, “You better ask TAPE.”
Disappointment over “Eat Bulaga!” controversy
Canlas asks Tito Sotto directly: “Galit po ba kayo sa nangyayari?”
“I am disappointed, at the very least. I am disappointed at what’s happening. Lahat-lahat na,” Sotto admits.
“Nakakahirap ng damdamin namin. They were asking everyone to resign. Dito sa pina-plano ng TAPE na baguhin yung production, they were asking everyone to resign, especially the small ones, yung maliliit yung income. Pinagre-retire at rere-hire naman daw. Sabi ko, ‘What’s the guarantee that they will be rehired?’ Kasi raw para maiayos ang budget. Pero mas mababa ang sweldo.”
Jalosjos and TAPE, Inc. have yet to react to Sotto’s statements about “Eat Bulaga!”
Banner Art Paulo Correa