About five weeks after becoming the target of an unprecedented boycott from a segment of Puerto Rico residents and advertisers, Antulio “Kobbo” Santarrosa the man behind the “La Comay” gossip puppet, allegedly walked off the show and the WAPA (Ch. 4) station late Tuesday.
Several sources confirmed to this media outlet that Santarrosa, who had conducted the island’s number one rated show for most of the past 12 years, quit after butting heads with WAPA executives over the decision to no longer air the “SuperXclusivo” gossip program live. However, management reportedly did not accept his resignation.
Santarrosa — who came back from vacation Monday — was also allegedly asked to cut back on his $4 million annual budget, which he refused, sources said.
Upon quitting, Santarrosa reportedly informed his staff of about 10 people that they no longer had jobs. Tuesday’s show was a rerun.
The whirlwind leading up to Tuesday’s events began in early December, when Santarrosa’s female alter-ego “La Comay” commented on the gruesome murder of 32-year-old former advertising executive José Enrique Gómez-Saladin, who was allegedly kidnapped, burned and beaten to death a few days earlier, after reportedly being forced to withdraw $400 from his bank account.
In his assessment of the incident, the gossip show’s creator questioned what the victim was doing cruising an area in the town of Caguas known for prostitution and drug trafficking and why he had allegedly allowed his attackers to get in his car.
His comments sparked an almost immediate social media frenzy and the creation of the “Boicot La Comay” Facebook page, which clamored for the cancellation of the island’s top-rated show, saying it promoted a “culture of hate and lack of solidarity with the people of Puerto Rico.”
Buckling under pressure
The group, which now has 76,000 members, pressed advertisers to no pull their sponsorships from the gossip program. Many who joined the unprecedented Facebook movement took exception to “La Comay’s” comments, which they said implied he had provoked his own death.
During the first two weeks of the boycott, major advertisers such as telecommunications companies Claro de Puerto Rico and AT&T Puerto Rico, insurer Triple-S, Lanco Paints, Vanilla Gift Card and Dish Networks — among others — quickly announced their decisions to drop “SuperXclusivo” from their media plans, cancelling ads on the show.
Based on its current rate card, this media outlet estimated WAPA would be losing about $1.3 million a week from the advertiser walkout.
Although station officials were unavailable Tuesday, late last month, WAPA President José “Joe” Ramos confirmed that as a result of the public outcry, “SuperXclusivo” would be taped several hours so that its content could be reviews and edited prior to airing.
The sources who spoke to News is my Business said Santarrosa rejected the change, saying it would constitute censorship.
Editor’s note: This story is developing. More information will be added as received.