After the Eat Bulaga! hosts shocked the nation with the announcement of parting ways from the show, under its producer Television and Production Exponent (TAPE) Inc., Tito Sotto has now bared the reason for this decision and where he and the rest of the Dabarkads will go from there.
Sotto has long broken his silence on the controversies surrounding Eat Bulaga!, revealing in April that the alleged "rebranding" was because the higher-ups believed they were losing profits and that many of his co-hosts were asked to resign from the 44-year old show.
In an interview on the TV5 program Julius and Tintin, Sotto explained that they decided to leave last May 31 when the management no longer wanted them to air live episodes.
"Nagulat kami nung hindi na raw magla-live, ayaw magpa-live. Sabi raw ng chairman [Romeo Jalosjos] hindi raw pwede mag-live. Parang hindi ganun kadali 'yun, may mga violations sa Department of Labor 'yun kung tutuusin, 'yung tinatawag na lockdown bigla, hindi mo pinagtrabaho 'yung mga nagtatrabaho sa'yo nang walang notice," Sotto said.
He continued, "So biglang naisip namin, siguro ito na 'yung bendisyon ng Panginoon na magdesisyon tayo. So kung mapapansin mo, medyo nangapa kami ng sasabihin sa gusto naming sabihin, pero nadeliver namin 'yung message, which is we are disengaging with TAPE Inc."
Some decisions made by the higher-ups that added fuel to the fire include replacing some of their newer segments that are still popular with regular viewers and decreasing the salary of all employees.
Now that the issue has reached its peak, many are questioning who exactly owns Eat Bulaga! According to Sotto, the live episodes posted on their social media accounts are copyrighted by the production staff, which is why the management cannot tamper with them.
"Hindi nila pag-aari 'yun, pag-aari 'yun ng production namin, personal na pag-aari ng mga empleyado. Atsaka 'yung mga portion na iniwan namin, nakapangalan sa mga empleyado namin 'yun, 'yung mga nag-imbento sila may ari ng copyright," he explained.
Sotto, a former senate president, cited a jurisprudence from the Supreme Court where owners don't have to accomplish a copyright registration, "Kung sino nag-imbento, sa kanya 'yun."
He also pointed out how TAPE Inc. was incorporated in 1981, two years after Eat Bulaga! started airing, "Paanong TAPE ang may-ari ng Eat Bulaga?"
However, following their departure, TAPE Inc. has now released an official statement addressing the issue, wherein they said that while the development is "unfortunate... life must go on."
"Abangan nino ang mga bagong magpapasaya at magpapatibok ng ating mga puso. Aasahan nino ang mas masaya, mas nakakaaliw at higit pa sa isang libo't isang tuwa na Eat Bulaga. Patuloy ang Dabarkads na maglilingkod para sa invo, mga Kapuso mula Aparri hanggang Jolo at sa buong mundo," TAPE, Inc. promised the loyal viewers of Eat Bulaga.
"Ang pag-alis ng host ay hindi dahilan para tumigil ang ikot ng mundo," the company ended.
Asked if the company can still use the title of the show, Sotto said, "Sa ngayon siguro akala nila dahil meron silang copyright on merchandise... pero mga merchandising 'yun. Kami naka-file sa entertainment services. 'Di sila naka-file doon."
"Gamitin muna nila habang nag-iisip pa kami kung ano ang susunod naming steps, pagkatapos eh bayaran [ang intellectual property]," he added.
So where can viewers now watch Eat Bulaga? While past episodes can still be streamed on its Facebook account, Sotto did not disclose where they will be heading to next.
However, when asked about his considerations in choosing their next network, Sotto said, "Matinong kausap at marunong makisama."
Eat Bulaga! first started airing in 1979 and has gone on to release over 13,000 episodes. Aside from Tito, Vic, and Joey, other celebrities including Paolo Ballesteros, Jose Manalo, Maine Mendoza, Ryzza Mae Dizon, Wally Bayola, Ryan Agoncillo, and Allan K and more serve as hosts, but all of them have since resigned after TVJ's departure.