CMFR Monitor of Political Advertisements (February 9-27): The most moneyed candidates were also the most covered by television

Written on March 12, 2010 – 12:46 am | by mediaandelections |

In 2004, relatively-unknown trade secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas ran for senator. Spending 73% of his campaign finances on advertisements, Mr. Palengke, as his advertisements tagged him, made it to the Senate with the most votes.

After two attempts, unknown and holding no position in the government , Ma. Ana Consuelo “Jamby” Madrigal became a senator in 2004 after filling the airwaves and billboards with advertisements featuring popular actress Judy Ann Santos.

Roxas is currently running as vice-president under the Liberal Party, while Madrigal is running for president as an independent candidate.

In today’s media-driven world, political advertisements have become a crucial tool during an election campaign.

The Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) monitored the advertisements aired during the primetime block (six to 10 pm) of Manila-based television networks ABS-CBN 2, GMA-7 and NBN-4 in the first three weeks of the campaign period, starting Feb. 9 to Feb. 26 excluding Saturdays and Sundays.

For print, CMFR monitored the advertisements published in the three major Manila daily broadsheets, namely the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Manila Bulletin, and The Philippine Star from Feb 10 to Feb 27.

Political Advertisements on Television

Even before the start of the official campaign last Feb. 9, the broadcast media were already bombarding their audiences with advertisements promoting a number of candidates. An AC Nielsen study found five presidential candidates (the Nacionalista Party’s Manuel “Manny” Villar Jr., the Liberal Party’s Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, Lakas-Kampi CMD’s Gilberto “Gibo” Teodoro Jr., Bagumbayan- Volunteers for New Philippines’ Richard Gordon and Bangon Pilipinas’ Eddie Villanueva)had already exceeded the broadcast limit stipulated by the Commission on Elections (Comelec), counting only the advertisements aired on the two major networks even before the official start of the campaign.

The AC Nielsen study monitored political advertisements aired on the major TV channels from Nov. 1, 2009 to Jan. 31, 2010.

Number of pol ads

With the campaign season already well under way, political advertisement has to adhere to Comelec limiting their frequency to 120 minutes per station throughout the remaining days of the campaign.

For the first three weeks of the campaign period, a total of 854 advertisements amounting to airtime of six hours 40 minutes and 45 seconds were aired over the primetime blocks of the three networks monitored. ABS-CBN 2 and GMA-7 contributed at least three hours of advertisements each. Only a slight difference can be noted between the numbers of advertisements aired on the two networks.

Considering that 61 candidates are vying for 12 seats in the Senate, the senatorial candidates also aired the most advertisements. ABS-CBN 2 had 171 advertisements while GMA-7 had 151 advertisements in its primetime block. While NBN-4 aired the least amount of advertisements for senatorial candidates, the number 34 already comprises 78% of the total advertisements it has aired over three weeks.

However, these advertisements did not comprise the most airtime, as some advertisements of senatorial candidates only used up 15 seconds of airtime.

2 airtime of pol ads

Advertisements for presidential candidates were the second highest in frequency with 336 advertisements, but accumulated the most airtime with  2 hours 48 minutes and 30 seconds. It should be noted, however, that NBN-4 did not air any advertisements on the presidential candidates within the monitoring period. The 336 advertisements for presidential candidates were all aired over privately-owned networks ABS-CBN 2 (170 advertisements) and GMA-7 (166 advertisements).

Meanwhile, 42 of the 854 election-related advertisements were on the initiatives of the civil society and the media (i.e. ABS-CBN’s “Ako Ang Simula” or “I am the Beginning” and GMA-7’s “May Magagawa Tayo” or “We Can Do Something” ) to push for clean and orderly automated elections. NBN-4 aired 22 of the 42 general election-related ads, which made up 82 percent of the total airtime of advertisements aired over NBN. This is largely because most of their elections advertisements were 50 to 70 seconds long (e.g., those on poll automation and the voting process).

Frequency per Program

3 Total Advertisements ABS-CBN

4 Total Advertisements GMA

Total Advertisements NBN

For ABS-CBN 2, the majority of the political advertisements were aired during the network’s news program, TV Patrol World, which had 129 advertisements within the three- week monitoring period. This made up 32% of the total number of advertisements aired, with almost an hour of airtime.

Similarly, a majority of the political advertisements (189 out of 395 advertisements) aired over GMA-7 came out during its primetime news program 24 Oras. This made up 47% of the total number of advertisements aired over the channel.

On the other hand, only a minimal number of advertisements were aired over the government channel, most of which were voter education advertisements.

Interestingly, 32 advertisements which made up 46% of airtime were aired during the Philippine Lotto Draw. While the show has accumulated the same amount of airtime with that of news program Batingaw, much of the advertisements aired during Batingaw were part of the network’s information campaign.

Print Media Advertisements

In Pulse Asia’s June-July 2004 survey , 74% of the 1,200 respondents listed television as their primary source of information on candidate—the reason behind the huge disparity in the number of advertisements in print and television that year.

This pattern is holding in the campaign period of the 2010 national elections. While television aired 854 ads during the monitor period, there was only a total of 26 political advertisements in newspapers. Twelve were in the Manila Bulletin, 11 in The Philippine Star and three in the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Out of the 26 advertisements, 14 were endorsing senatorial candidates, with seven in the Manila Bulletin, 5 in the Star and two in the Inquirer. Another six advertisements were on various election related issues and only one advertisement was from a party-list group.

Seventeen out of the 26 advertisements were in the news section. Two advertisements were in the business, entertainment, special features and supplements sections, while the lifestyle section published only one advertisement.

Total Advertisements

Meanwhile, most of the candidates did not follow the rule on the size of the political advertisements. Twelve out of the 26 advertisements (including those by civil society and media) were bigger than ¼ of each paper’s page. Comelec rules say that a print ad may occupy only ¼ of a newspaper page at most.

Size of Pol Ads on Print

The Candidates and their Political Advertisements

Presidential Candidates

The Nacionalista Party’s Manny Villar had the most number of advertisements at 114 aired during primetime over the two biggest networks. NBN-4 had not aired any advertisements on the presidential candidates as of February 27.

During the monitoring period, Villar aired only one kind of advertisement—the story of his brother who died without getting medical treatment because of his family’s financial limitations.

Number of Ads Aired for Presl Candidates

With at least four kinds of advertisements, former president Joseph Estrada of Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) aired a total of 98 advertisements, all claiming that country was in a better state during his aborted presidency (1998-2001), specifically in terms of peace and order in Mindanao, integrity of government deals, and agriculture. He aired an average of seven advertisements a day in both networks.

Sixty-six of the 336 advertisements aired featured Sen. Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino. His camp aired at least four different advertisements in primetime, most of which promised to put an end to corruption. Like Estrada, much of Aquino’s advertisements were aired on ABS-CBN, the mother station of his sister Kris Aquino.

Aquino had a single advertisement in print, together with his running mate Manuel “Mar” Roxas.

Of the candidates who aired advertisements during the monitor period, Senator Richard Gordon had the least number.

Administration candidate Gilbert Teodoro did not have any ad over TV during the monitoring period.
He did have a single advertisement in print. On Feb. 12, Teodoro’s camp published a ¼ page advertisement in the Manila Bulletin encouraging volunteers to help out with his campaign.

While Jesus is Lord Movement leader Bro. Eddie Villanueva had no advertisements during the primetime block, his advertisements and that of other candidates from the Bangon Pilipinas party flooded GMA 7 during the late Sunday evening shows Diyos at Bayan and Jesus the Healer.

Number of Ads Aired for VP Candidates

Vice Presidential Candidates

Nationalist People’s Coalition vice presidential bet Loren Legarda who is running in the Nacionalista Party slate had 41 advertisements in the first three weeks of the campaign period. 73% of her advertisements were aired on GMA 7. Two of her advertisements were 15 seconds long and are most of the time aired together to comply with the 30-second commercial block. Her other ad was aired during the first week of the campaign.

Roxas had a total of 36 advertisements during primetime, more than half of which were aired over GMA 7. He has aired only one kind of advertisement during the monitoring period.

Jejomar “Jojo” Binay, who is running for the vice presidency with Estrada, had a total of 23 advertisements, most of which were aired on ABS-CBN. Binay also had three advertisements in print, one for each major Manila broadsheet during the first three weeks of the campaign.

Bayani Fernando is the only vice-presidential candidate who has aired ads on NBN 4. But more than half of his advertisements were aired on GMA-7.

Senatorial Candidates

Among the 61 candidates vying for a seat in the Senate, re-electionist Senator Juan Ponce Enrile had a total of 77 TV advertisements during the first three weeks of the campaign period. This figure was the third highest among all candidates. With three different kinds of advertisements under the tagline “Gusto ko happy ka (I want you to be happy)”, he has aired an average of six per day.

At the same time, Enrile also had five advertisements in print, four of which were in the Manila Bulletin.

Senatorial candidates

While Ramon Guico and Rodolfo Plaza rarely aired advertisements over the two biggest networks, they aired ads on NBN-4.

While Liza Maza and Satur Ocampo are running under the NP slate as guest candidates, they are seen together in an advertisement aired as the two candidates of the Makabayan party, thus making the frequency of their advertisements identical.

The other senatorial candidates who had advertisements during the monitor period were Manuel “Lito” Lapid (Lakas-Kampi-CMD), Raul Lambino (Lakas-Kampi-CMD), Gwendolyn Pimentel (NP), Ramon Bong Revilla Jr.(Lakas-Kampi-CMD and a guest candidate of NP and PMP) Vicente “Tito” Sotto (Independent), and Ruffy Biazon (LP).

Aside from Enrile, only three senatorial candidates published advertisements in print: five for Lakas-Kampi’s Silvestre Bello, three for Sotto, and one for the Nacionalista Party’s Ramon Mitra. Only Mitra among the four senatorial candidates had not aired any advertisements on primetime television as the review period ended.

Other Election-related Advertisements

Aside from the advertisements of the candidates, the top two Manila-based TV networks aired their own voter education advertisements during primetime programs.

ABS-CBN 2 aired its “Boto Mo iPatrol Mo (Monitor your Vote)” reminder as well as its election jingle Ako ang Simula (I am the beginning) with a total of 17 advertisements in three weeks. The “Ako ang Simula” music video has aired at least 12 times since the station held its Ako ang Simula: Himig ng Pagbabago concert last Feb 21.

Advertisements on ABS-CBN’s “Boto Mo iPatrol Mo” project also appeared in print. Both the Star and the Bulletin published two advertisements promoting the project.

GMA-7 aired only twice its two elections advertisement, “Tatakbo” (he will run) which featured the pact signed by presidential candidates for peaceful and elections and their voter education jingle Bilog na Hugis Itlog (An egg shaped circle).

NBN-4’s “Hatol ng Bayan” (The people’s judgment)and “4 Your Information”, both on voter education, were aired seven times and twice, respectively.

The Star had its own election advertisement which was published only once during the first three weeks of the campaign.

At the same time, the Star also published the National Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL) statement “You cannot kill the NAMFREL spirit” which is a response to the Commission on Election’s denial of Namfrel accreditation as a citizen arm in the May 2010 election. The same advertisement was published in the Inquirer last January.

The Candidates’ Total Exposure
Total airtime exposure of presidential candidates

A comparison of the results of the timekeeping analysis of the number of political advertisements of the candidates during the primetime block shows that Estrada and Villar had the most exposure on TV among the presidential candidates. Among the vice presidential candidates, Legarda and Roxas had the most exposure.

Among all the senatorial candidates, Enrile had the most advantage in terms of exposure, at 20 minutes more than the other candidates. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. had the second longest exposure in primetime television.

Total airtime exposure of senatorial candidates

(To see report in MS Word, please click here. A PDF copy is available here.)

CMFR Monitor of the News Media Coverage of 2013 Elections

Given the special nature of the 2013 campaign and elections, the media’s role as credible and critical sources of information and analysis during the election season bears watching. The Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) is monitoring the news media coverage of the 2013 campaign and elections in the context of both the special circumstances in which they were taking place, and the opportunity for improved and meaningful reporting and analysis the exercise offered to the Philippine media. 

CMFR has been monitoring media coverage of Philippine elections since 1992, and in every instance has made recommendations towards the improvement of media coverage. These efforts have not been unrewarded. Changes in media coverage incorporating some of the recommendations of the CMFR monitor in 2004 were evident, for example, in the media coverage of the 2007 elections.


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