In an interview by Philippine Daily Inquirer to the country's most successful TV executive, Atty. Gozon admitted his obsession on strictly monitoring archival rival, ABS-CBN.Being, as he said, “too educated” in the ways of television production, Felipe L. Gozon –president, chair and CEO of broadcasting giant GMA 7—didn’t mind admitting that watching shows on the small screen had become “clinical” for him.
“I analyze everything, especially the ad load. If I find that the other channels have less, natutuwa ako,” Gozon said, grinning.
That “forthright” as a description sat well with the Kapuso boss was fairly common knowledge, and during a visit to his office on the 16th floor of the GMA 7 studios in Quezon City, Inquirer Entertainment found exactly to what extent the term applied.
Gozon continued: “I even take note of what they call product placements (casual exposure of merchandise in shows). I pressure my people … because we’re behind (rival channel ABS-CBN).” Especially, he added, when Willie Revillame was still running “Wowowee.”
“These days, TV networks are like ad agencies, too,” Gozon said. “We pitch stories to clients. From nothing, we create something (advertising opportunities, packages) that they can buy into.”
The Yale alumnus (Master of Laws, 1965) said he enjoyed TV work more than law practice. “TV is very dynamic. What people like today, they may no longer like tomorrow. We have to be constantly looking out for fresh ideas. I keep telling our writers, ‘Let’s be original, innovative, creative.’ Napupuna ko kasi, iisa lang ang style nila.”
He watches biggest rival, Channel 2, “to see how different their shows are from ours.” He threw back a question posed earlier: “Would you enjoy TV watching with this mind-set?”
For Gozon, complacency is the enemy. “I keep saying, when we were No. 2, we tried harder. That was how we overtook Channel 2.”
He was pragmatic about the competition: “Channel 2 has a lot of good talents. They’ve become stronger. But it took them a while, for example, to come up with a program to beat (the now defunct magazine show) ‘Sis.’ But that’s how it is—we also change our shows to suit viewers’ preference. Maganda na ang labanan. The station that comes up with the best shows wins. We have 170 talents. We give them voice, dance, grooming lessons. We also prepare them emotionally for stardom.”
With digitization coming, Gozon said, competition among networks would be even stiffer. “ABS-CBN will still be our top rival. We’re watching TV5, but not focusing on it.”
He remained friends with several executives of ABS-CBN, he revealed “I’m OK with FMG (Freddie M. Garcia, former ABS-CBN president, now a member of the board). I have no problem with Gabby (Lopez, chair and CEO). I get to talk with Maria Ressa (News and Current Affairs Department head) once in a while. This [rivalry] is really just work.”
How RP’s top TV man watches television
By Marinel R. Cruz, Interview by the staff
Philippine Daily Inquirer