SC affirms RPN 9’s reduced fine against private TV firm


THE Supreme Court (SC) has affirmed a Court of Appeals (CA) ruling that ordered Radio Philippines Network, Inc. (RPN 9) to pay Team Image Entertainment, Inc. (TIE)  in temperate damages worth P100,000 after the network was found liable for breach of contract with the private television firm.

In a 12-page resolution on July 6 and made public on Sept. 2, the High Court’s first division upheld with modification the reduced damages and added a 6% interest to the total amount.

“We sustain the CA’s reduction of the amount since exemplary damages are imposed not to enrich one party or impoverish another, but to serve as a  deterrent against or as a  negative incentive to curb socially deleterious actions,” it said.

A Makati City regional trial court had ordered RPN 9 to pay the private television firm P117,000,000 in damages after a memorandum of agreement between the two firms was terminated.

The appellate court had set deleted a Makati regional trial court’s award of actual damages in favor of TIE, as it said there was no evidence that supported the original claim of damages.

The contract between the two firms was terminated after RPN 9 underwent new management.

The private television firm was instead awarded temperate damages in the amount of P100,000.

The High Court noted that TIE failed to prove that the newly appointed executives of RPN 9 practiced gross negligence in terminating the agreement.

The legal concept of gross negligence is the reckless disregard of a legal duty and of the consequences to another party.

The petitioner is a private corporation engaged in supplying foreign programs such as telenovelas, movies, tv series, and other shows to local television networks.

In 1997, TIE was guaranteed by RPN 9 specific airtime for its clients’ programs with a rate of P500,000 per title.

The case stemmed after RPN terminated its barter agreement with TIE, which the petitioner said affected its contracts with clients.

RPN 9 argued that the agreement was to be rescinded due to a series of violations committed by TIE such as failing to provide program titles in advance and failing to generate profit for the television network.

“Basic is the rule that a  corporation is vested by law with a personality separate and distinct from that of each person composing or representing it,” the tribunal said. “As such, only the corporation, and not its officers, may be held liable for its wrongful acts,” said the High Court. — John Victor D. Ordoñez

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