THE KICKOFF to the 8th USTv Students Choice Awards was caught between the war of the television networks, in an indication of how the whole project has become commercialized.

ABS-CBN and GMA Network engaged in a battle of press statements following the claim of ABS-CBN’s Anne Curtis that GMA Network barred her from going up the stage to perform a song number in the kickoff at Plaza Mayor last Nov. 10.

Both networks ended up blaming the USTV organizers for the misunderstanding.

Curtis, who was supposed to sing “Someone Like You,” left without getting up on the stage. Curtis arrived in the University about an hour before the time allotted for ABS-CBN, as she had to leave earlier for another engagement.

She said on her twitter account, @annecurtissmith: “Thomasians, I’m sorry I had to leave na. I tried to at least get up on stage and say hi kahit 2 minutes lang but GMA staff didn’t want.”

A USTv staff member, who asked not to be named, said Curtis wanted to do her performance earlier than ABS-CBN’s schedule because she had another commitment, but the organizers did not agree as they had to follow the line-up of the program.

“It’s just sad that I was already about to get on stage, as in by the stairs na. Kasi nauna ako du’n before the GMA artists were there,” Curtis claimed.

In response, GMA Network issued a statement, saying: “The fact is—we were simply sticking to the programme sequence provided by the organizers themselves."

“We are certain Ms. Curtis had her own reasons for requesting to go onstage immediately, but the Kapuso artists also had their own respective schedules and had in fact been pushed back even prior to Ms. Curtis' request,” the Nov. 12 statement said.

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GMA Network said that based on the schedule, “GMA artists were supposed to perform at 7 p.m. Our talents were at the venue as early as 5 p.m. Last-minute insertion of ABS-CBN's Banana Split cast in the programme however further pushed back the schedule.”

ABS-CBN countered with its own statement last Nov. 13, saying: “The call time for Anne was 7 p.m. and she arrived on time. She was scheduled to sing at 7:30 PM but due to some reason, the program was delayed.”

“Because Anne had been waiting for quite some time, the organizers of USTv awards decided to put her spot number after TV5's presentation and before GMA-7 artists' number. Unfortunately, she was not able to perform or even greet the crowd because a staff from GMA-7 stopped her,” ABS-CBN claimed.

“The organizers of the event, who should be the ones making the decisions for the program, failed to control the incident,” it added.

The Office of the Secretary General released a statement last Nov. 15 expressing regret over the incident. “We regret any misunderstanding or confusion that may have occurred unintentionally and caused inconvenience to some. We pray and hope that all parties can move on and continue with our common commitment of promoting positive values in the mass media. After all, it is for this that the USTv Students’ Choice Awards came into being,” it said.

“The event featured a program with a pre-determined sequence aimed at giving all the celebrities in attendance ample time to meet or to perform before the Thomasian audience. Since the TV networks normally cannot declare the exact number of talents who would be able to come, last minute adjustments were inevitable, subject, however, to mutual agreement of the concerned parties,” the UST statement explained.

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“The University of Santo Tomas, together with all its students, deeply appreciate the enthusiastic participation of the television networks during the 8th USTv Students’ Choice Awards Kick Off Party held on 10 November 2011 at the Plaza Mayor of the University..”

The Student Organizations’ Coordinating Council (SOCC) reiterated USTv’s mission of being more than just showbiz awards.

“This year’s launch of USTv reminded the students to watch and choose television programs wisely to follow positive Filipino values amid the changing world,” said Rolando Vittorio Gatmaitan, Jr., SOCC president.

Gatmaitan explained the nomination process to the Varsitarian. “Every network was given an invitation and a nomination form. They were given a list of categories. In every category, they should nominate three of their shows,” Gatmaitan said.

Media partners of the launch include ABS-CBN, GMA, GMA News TV, Myx, and Studio 23.

Television personalities who were present were Angelica Panganiban, Melai Cantiveros, Jason Francisco, Jayson Gainza, Ryan Bang, Pooh, John Prats, JM de Guzman, Melissa Ricks, and Enrique Gil (ABS-CBN); Survivor Philippines Celebrity Doubles Showdown castaways, Chynna Ortaleza, and Glaiza de Castro GMA); Pia Arcangel, and Cesar Apolinario (GMA News TV);and Alex Gonzaga, JC De Vera, Vandolph Quizon, Amy Perez, (TV5).

The awards night will be in February next year.

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