TV coverage still on the same track; some gave space to voter education as Lacson and Moreno join forces to ask Robredo to withdraw

5th Report on the TV Coverage of the Elections 2022


METHODOLOGY: CMFR reviewed and analyzed primetime news programs of four broadcast stations: GMA-7’s 24 Oras and 24 Oras Weekend, ABS-CBN’s TV Patrol and TV Patrol Weekend, CNN Philippines’ News Night and Newsroom Weekend, and TV5’s Frontline Pilipinas (no weekend newscast) for two weeks, from April 4 to 17, 2022. All except 24 Oras had no newscast on April 14 (Maundy Thursday) to 16 (Black Saturday). 

CMFR looked at the number of election-related reports, their placement, subject, sources, themes or topics, background, context, and slant.

ALSO SEE: “Print keeps Marcos Jr. on their front pages; online media spotlight issues on the ground


FOR TEN straight weeks of the campaign period, television coverage did little more than highlight what was said and done during campaign sorties. This period  included efforts to devote valuable airtime to the issues in special segments. But the greater number of reports stayed focused on the presidential campaign trail. 

From April 4 to 17, the TV news programs produced a total of 249 reports on the elections. TV Patrol had 73 reports (33 percent of the total number of news reports aired in the program); 24 Oras had 91, (33 percent of its newshole); News Night  53 (40 percent); and Frontline Pilipinas  32, (26 percent.)

During the ninth and tenth week, 119, or 48 percent of the reports, merely followed the different teams of presidential candidates during campaign sorties.

Coverage depended on the candidates and the campaign trail for controversial highlights which came mostly from their interviews or speeches. 

Talk about a united front never got fleshed out in the news. There was more division among the rival candidates to report.  

The unity that never was

Media faithfully reported the endorsements of candidates along with the defection of groups from one candidate to another. Sen. Ping Lacson suffered a setback when his party, the Partido para sa Demokratikong Reporma (PDR) announced it would no longer back his candidacy. He immediately resigned as PDR Chair but did not withdraw from the race even as several PDR leaders endorsed Robredo for the presidency.

Manila Mayor Isko Moreno suffered the same rejection from Ikaw Muna (IM) Pilipinas, one of the groups that called on Moreno to run for the presidency, 

Media reported these defections.  Moreno joined Lacson in complaining about Robredo’s supposedly  asking them to withdraw, saying that the Robredo camp  reached out to him and several other candidates to back out of the presidential race. 

Moreno himself stopped his repeated hits on Marcos about his family’s unpaid estate taxes and instead concentrated on complaining about Robredo. 

On Saturday, April 16, social media and online news were abuzz with the  joint press conference  the following day by Lacson, Moreno, Sen. Manny Pacquiao, Ernesto Abella, and Former Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales. The event on Sunday April 17 was the culmination of  the chain of complaints by Lacson and Moreno against Robredo. Lacson, Moreno and Gonzales declared they would not back out of the race. In the same press conference, the three lashed out at Robredo, and Moreno called for her withdrawal instead. Pacquiao said that he would attend if he could get on a flight to Manila. He did not. 

During the press conference, neither of the two other principals complained about Moreno’s call for the withdrawal of Robredo. But Lacson later denied that he had called for Robredo’s withdrawal and Gonzales apologized for what they said about Robredo. 

Unfortunately, media coverage of the press conference did not include the context in the defections to Robredo of groups previously supporting Lacson and Moreno.  Meanwhile, Robredo’s campaign team denied ever talking to any of the candidates about withdrawing. The calls for withdrawal were from the Vice President’s supporters. 

Overseas absentee voting

Also in the news, the month-long absentee voting commenced on April 9 for the 1.7 million Filipinos overseas. The media noted several issues on the first day of the elections including the limited capacity of the Philippine consulate in Hong Kong to accommodate the thousands of voters, and the alleged distribution of pre-shaded ballots to voters in Singapore and Dubai. 

Reports on the overseas vote included complaints about some of the ballots’ being pre-shaded. TV news reported Comelec’s response that it would investigate. The Comelec and the Philippine Embassy said that the questionable ballots were sample ballots used during a pre-election exercise, but did not explain why and how these were distributed.   TV news programs had 16 reports on the conduct of the overseas vote. 

Highlights on important issues

CMFR has noted reports on different news programs that highlighted important election issues.

  • CNN Philippines continued to highlight the plight of the marginalized in its  “Sector on the sidelines” segment. As of press time, the segment had already discussed issues in the LGBT community, persons with disability,

persons deprived of liberty, overseas Filipino workers, and orphans of the war in Mindanao.

  • GMA7’s segment “Dapat Totoo” engaged in voter education, focusing on election laws, political dynasties which have spread  and now dominate the entire political structure, including the party list system, the importance of the youth vote, and dis-information as part of campaign messages.
  • ABS-CBN’s segment “KampanyaSerye” examined each presidential candidate, their political careers and what their main policy programs will be should they win the presidency.

These in-depth reports help to educate voters and deserve more airtime. (See: “From GMA-7 and CNN: Special reports to educate voters“)

Robredo is most reported 

For the first time, Robredo was the most reported as the subject of 69 reports. The news on endorsement switches and the unification talks caused the slight boost in Robredo’s TV coverage. Marcos followed with 64 reports; then Moreno, 56; Lacson, 52, Sen. Manny Pacquiao, 46; and Labor leader Leody De Guzman, 31. Other presidential candidates were covered in 21 reports or fewer.

Among the vice presidential candidates, Sen. Tito Sotto was the most covered with 32 reports. Sen. Kiko Pangilinan followed with 30; and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte with 29. The rest of the candidates were the subject of fewer than 20 reports.

Slants

Robredo had 38 reports slanted in her favor but also had 4 with negative slants. Isko Moreno had 38 positive slants and 2 negative slants. Marcos had 27 positive and 2 negative reports, and Lacson 24 positive and one negative. These negative slants were on reports about the issues thrown against the candidates but did not include their sides. Robredo, Moreno and Lacson’s negative slants were related to the controversial unification talks. Pacquiao had 22 reports and De Guzman had 9 reports slanted positively for them. 


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