GMA News and Public Affairs has been put on blast for allegedly failing to pay a man who produced a documentary for one of their television programs.
The television station’s allegedly predatory practice was exposed last night by Getty Images photographer Ezra Acayan in an online post. Acayan has written several times about GMA’s practice of asking for free work from videographers and photographers, which caught the eye of a Paris-based overseas Filipino worker (OFW) named Wilson Paguyo.
Paguyo, who works as a chef, organized relief drives for other Filipinos living in the French capital who have been affected by the Macron government’s coronavirus lockdown. He raised funds by selling vegetables and visited Pinoys’ homes to deliver food and other essentials, an act that GMA’s team learned about. GMA then asked Paguyo if they could feature him in a series of documentaries.
“GMA asked if they could use his videos for free on their program, and rather than hire an independent videographer in France to document Wilson’s daily life, they went as far as to ask him to do the shooting himself also for free. He was told it would help give attention to his cause, so Wilson agreed,” Acayan wrote in his post.
The television channel’s team then got in touch with Paguyo daily and sent him shot lists that they wanted the chef to follow.
“They asked him to conduct interviews and even to shoot establishing shots of famous Paris landmarks. They were consistent in praising him and reminding him that it would help his cause. In the end, GMA was able to produce an entire documentary off of his work, which he did for free. Running out of funds, he desperately asked GMA if they could at least donate directly to his cause in exchange for his work, to which GMA responded that they ‘don’t have the budget,'” Acayan said.
When the chef reached out to Acayan, the latter explained to Paguyo how GMA is “profiting off” from people who allegedly give them free materials which they use in their shows.
“Wilson broke down in tears as he regretted giving away his work for free. He said he could’ve helped more people if GMA had compensated him fairly for his work…Wilson now worries that GMA did the same to OFWs from other countries who were also featured in their documentary series. Wilson is still in Paris, which remains under lockdown. He has run out of money, and many fellow Filipinos are still asking him for help,” Acayan wrote.
In his post, Acayan attached the messages that Paguyo received from GMA’s team, including a letter containing the company’s official logo. The letter asked Paguyo’s permission to “distribute, publish, [and] make use” of the OFW’s videos.
“We hope you could waive the fees, if any,” GMA’s supposed letter said.
Most Filipinos left angry reactions to Acayan’s post, which has been shared almost 2,400 times since it appeared. One of the comments written underneath the post was from Paguyo, who wrote, “I hope GMA7 stops this practice. I wish they would stop this exploitative practice because instead of helping, they’re the ones who are profiting from their programs. I hope they help more undocumented and vulnerable OFWs.”
GMA has yet to release a statement addressing the issue. Today, Acayan shared a tweet supposedly from a GMA staff who had defended the network’s allegedly predatory practice by saying, “Ezra is still not done with us. As if other networks don’t do the same thing. My God, Ezra,” the tweet said.
Acayan alleged that the staff works with Atom Araullo, one of GMA’s high profile journalists. In response, he wrote, “Good morning. Sister, I hope you understand that I’m not the enemy. God bless and have a nice day.”