From February 9 (a few days ago) until May 8 this year, it looks like we will have to do without the likes of Kris Aquino, Kim Chiu, Dolphy, Gary V, or Lorna Tolentino from our TVs, as might be inferred from a news report. Horrors! All because there is this election law that says celebrities have a (perhaps tough) choice: Make money the usual way (by singing and dancing into the hearts and voter preferences of TV viewers), or promote/endorse a candidate for public office.
According to the Daily Tribune, Mr. Adel Tamano, speaking for candidate Senator Manny Villar, believes the law is an unconstitutional intrusion on the freedoms of celebrities. Indeed, the Trib also reports that Mr. Villar said in an interview: “That is the right of the artists. They are also Filipinos as well as voters. They have the right to choose their candidates. Why are they being denied their right to choose and whom they want to endorse?”
But the economics of the matter is simple. If the celebrity values his/her contract (even a volunteer one) with a political candidate more than his/her TV program, then it shouldn’t matter. Economists call this utility maximization. Indeed, if a celebrity believes in the “cause” of his candidate, he should be willing to give up, temporarily, his favored mass media platform. After all, he gets to work to get his favorite candidate elected. That is (last I looked) an interesting aspect of democracy. Otherwise, the celebrity can get paid twice: once, from the ad revenues of the TV network, and a second time from his favored candidate.
But what about the poor hapless TV viewers? Their utility gets minimized! Shame, shame, shame.
And we would have our Comelec officials to “blame” for the boring days ahead. That is really something. Mr. Willie Revillame or his fans should appeal. Seriously.