Monday, October 25, 2010

FCC complaints filed against Marianas Media

by Mindy Aguon from

Guam - Allegations of federal violations have surfaced as the Republican gubernatorial team of Eddie Calvo/Ray Tenorio has alleged a local television station hasn't made a level playing field for the election. While they've alleged the station has given free advertising to one political campaign, the company is refuting the allegations calling them baseless and without merit.

Calvo/Tenorio legal counsel Tom Fisher says Marianas Media (aka, KTKB-CW4), hasn't been playing fair. "They're not reporting the expenditures. They're not reporting the contributions. So one of the sides isn't telling the truth, quite frankly," he explained.

Fisher filed two complaints with the Federal Communications Commission alleging local television station KTKB (aka, "The CW4") owned by Marianas Media Investors, Inc. has violated federal rules and regulations. On October 8 Fisher attempted to review a political file, that was to contain detailed information on which candidates sought commercial air time on their television station, how much they were charged and when the spots aired on TV, but was told to leave.

Fisher was eventually given a copy of the company's political file and after reviewing it with the Gutierrez/Aguon Campaign Contributions/Expenditures Report, he found some discrepancies. "While the CW4 claims that they did $151,000 in airtime and production for the Gutierrez/Aguon committee, looking at the Gutierrez/Aguon, filings there is no report of an expenditure at all for that the conclusion's clear they were getting free advertising time," he stated.

Fisher says free advertising for one campaign while another must pay created a significant disadvantage that skews the election process. He stresses that this is why the FCC has such stringent rules to ensure the playing ground during election is level.

The Marianas Media political file included a contract with Gutierrez/Aguon signed on May 25 for $330,000. The agreement states that the Committee to Elect Gutierrez/Aguon 2010 would pay three installments of $110,000 each in three installments due May 30, July 15 and August 31 for television ads that ran in May through July.

KUAM News visited the CW4 offices today in Hagatna and reviewed the political file and found a second contract had been signed last week for $106,250 for more than 500 television ads to air until the General Election.

Fisher says the problem is none of the advertisements that have aired on CW4 were included in the Gutierrez/Aguon Campaign Contributions and Expenditures Report. He continued, "If CW4 did, in fact advance this then Gutierrez/Aguon should have reported it but they didn't. If there was no advancement then that was also a contribution. If the Gutierrez campaign actually paid for these advertisements then they should have put it down as an expenditure. They didn't do it."

Marianas Media Investors, Inc. issued a statement today calling the FCC complaint "baseless and malicious". Chief operating officer and executive news producer John Dela Rosa claims the complaint is part of Calvo/Tenorio's campaign attacks and Marianas Media will not give in to their longstanding tactics of fear and intimidation. He added the claims are without merit, as MMI offers no free advertising or production to any political campaign.

When asked how much Gutierrez/Aguon has paid for advertisements to CW4 and why the ads weren't included in their report to the Guam Election Commission, campaign legal counsel Randy Cunliffe responded, saying he didn't believe they'd been billed yet. "Then we have to assume that a television station did six months of political advertisement for the Gutierrez/Aguon campaign and didn't bill them at all. If you accept that as true, even if you accept that as true the Guam Election Commission and Guam law still defines that advance, that loan as a contribution.

"That contribution also had to be reported in the Gutierrez/Aguon filings and was not."

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