Media battlefield shrinks as candidates near 120 minute airtime limit

Written on March 30, 2010 – 3:33 am | by mediaandelections |

(For the Period February 28-March 13)

A month after the start of the official campaign period for the 2010 national elections,  several groups including  civil society and the media were  monitoring and publicizing the campaign expenditures of the candidates, most especially their spending on political advertisements.

An AC Nielsen study, for example, revealed that as of Mar. 16, three presidential candidates had only  about 40 minutes left of the 120-minute airtime limit for each television network mandated by the Commission on Elections (Comelec). By Mar. 8, Nacionalista Party’s (NP) Manuel “Manny” Villar Jr. had at least 40 minutes left of airtime on both GMA-7 and ABS-CBN 2. The Liberal Party’s (LP) Benigno  “Noynoy” Aquino III  had  only 44 minutes left on ABS-CBN 2 and 54 minutes on GMA-7. Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino’s (PMP) Joseph “Erap” Ejercito Estrada had 44 minutes of advertisement airtime left on ABS-CBN and 55 minutes on GMA-7.

With different groups closely following ad placements in the media, the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) observed in its second period  of monitoring political advertisements a notable decrease in advertisements, especially by the presidential candidates.

For the  period under review,  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 from Mar. 1 to Mar. 12, excluding Saturdays and Sundays. ( A technical glitch in the recording of NBN-4’s Mar. 2 primetime block resulted in a 15-minute  gap in the monitor for the period.)

CMFR also monitored the political advertisements in the three major Manila daily broadsheets, namely the Philippine Daily Inquirer, The Philippine Star and the Manila Bulletin from Feb. 28 to Mar. 13.

Political Advertisements on Television

For the second period, the total number of political advertisements on the networks monitored was 474. This was a 44.5 percent decrease from the 854 total advertisements from the first period of monitoring.

Table 1. Total Number of Political Advertisements on Television

Table 1

The total number of political advertisements for presidential candidates also significantly declined to 128 advertisements from 336 ads in the first period, representing  a 61.9 percent decrease.

On the other hand, the total number of advertisements for vice-presidential candidates saw a slight increase, to 133 ads from 120.

For senatorial candidates, there was a decline  to 152 ads from 356—a 57.3-percent decrease in number. This was due to a significant decrease of advertisements from top political ad spenders from the first period  (Table 7).

The number of advertisements on elections in general  also decreased to 22 from  the 42 advertisements aired during the first period. This was mainly due to a significant decrease in advertisements over ABS-CBN 2, which was promoting its Ako ang Simula: Himig ng Pagbabago (”I am the Start: Hymn for Change”) concert last Feb. 19. There was also a notable decrease in election advertisements over NBN-4, to 12 from the 22  during the first period.

The second period also saw the emergence of two types of  political advertisements: ads for party-list groups and ads for  political parties rather than individuals. A total of 28 advertisements were aired on party-list groups. But only one party-list group aired ads during the primetime block.

Only one political party aired advertisement during the second period, but with a total of 11 ads. This figure will noticeably increase in the next period as the Fair Election Act also provides a separate airtime count of 120 minutes per station for political parties.

On a total per station basis, the number of advertisements aired over the three networks also decreased, most significantly in ABS-CBN 2 to 197 ads from 399, a decrease of 50.6  percent. Ads on GMA-7 also declined by 42.8 percent, to 226 ads from 395, while those in NBN-4 decreased slightly, by 15 percent (51 ads from 60).

Table 2. Total Airtime of Political Advertisements

Table 2

Alongside the decrease in the number of political advertisement was the reduction in airtime, despite the existence of 45-second advertisements for a presidential candidate. The total airtime of ads decreased by almost three hours—to three hours, 44 minutes, and five seconds from six hours, 40 minutes, and 45 seconds.

Ad airtime for presidential and senatorial candidates decreased by 57.9 percent and 57.8 percent respectively.  From two hours, 48 minutes, and 30 seconds, the ad airtime for presidential candidates declined to an hour and 11 minutes in the second period. Airtime for senatorial candidates fell to an hour and six minutes from two hours, 34 minutes, and 30 seconds.

Frequency per Program

As in the first period, the bulk of  political advertisements was aired during the commercial gaps in the networks’ primetime news programs. For ABS-CBN 2, 30 percent of  total  ad airtime (59 out of 197 ads) was aired during TV Patrol World while 47 percent of the total advertisement airtime for GMA-7 (108 out of 226 ads) was aired during 24 Oras.

However, advertisements for both news programs decreased significantly by 54.3 percent and 42.9 percent respectively, from 129 ads aired during TV Patrol World and 189 ads during 24 Oras for the first period.

Table 3. Total Advertisements per Program

Table 3.1

Table 3.2

Table 3.3

On the other hand, NBN-4 had a change in program schedule. Its primetime drama block was moved to an earlier time slot while its public affairs program were moved to a later schedule to give way to an election-related public affairs program, Hatol ng Bayan 2010. This did not, however, significantly affect the number of political advertisements as these were aired mostly during the network’s  Philippine Lotto Draw. The show had 39 advertisements from 32 ads. Information campaign ads on elections by the network were usually aired during Hatol ng Bayan 2010, Batingaw and the public service block after Philippine Lotto Draw, with five, five and two advertisements, respectively.

Print Advertisements

In contrast to the decreasing number of advertisements on television were print media, where the number of advertisements increased by 27.8 percent (36 advertisements from 26). The Philippine Daily Inquirer recorded the most significant increase (15 from three advertisements).

Note the disparity in the number of advertisements published in the Manila Bulletin as one advertisement featured the presidential, vice-presidential and senatorial candidates compared to ads in the Philippine Star and the Inquirer where the advertisements presented only one candidate.

Table 4. Total Number of Political Advertisements on Print

Table 4

The vice-presidential candidates published the most advertisements in print with 12 ads.  Advertisements for party-list groups were also published more frequently during the second period.

The senatorial candidates had the most significant decrease in print ads, to four from 13 advertisements  during the first period of monitoring while advertisements on elections in general increased to 13 from six ads during the first period. Advertisements on elections in general came from Smartmatic-TIM and civil society groups.

In terms of size, special interest groups published advertisements more than ¼  the size of a broadsheet. Aside from these, only NP vice-presidential bet Loren Legarda published ads exceeding the ¼ of a broadsheet Comelec -prescribed size.

Candidates and Their Political Advertisements

Table 5. Number of Advertisements Aired for Presidential Candidates

Table 5

Presidential Candidates

As mentioned above, the number of advertisements aired on television from the presidential candidates considerably decreased.

The LP’s Aquino aired the most advertisements during the second period, although there was a slight decrease, to 52 from 66 advertisements aired during the first period. Aquino aired only one kind of advertisement during the second period  as in the first three weeks of the campaign.

Although Manny Villar outpaced his rivals in terms of  the number of political advertisements he had in print, he also had the most significant decrease of 56.1 percent, to 50 from 114 advertisements aired during the first period. He aired only two kinds of advertisements during the second period. A rendition of his pre-campaign period advertisement and a new on the primetime block, Villar’s jingle was being sung by street children on being poor but being able to achieve his dreams. This advertisement is 45 seconds long and further boosted his total spent airtime.  Villar had another advertisement on the story of his brother. This same advertisement had been aired during the first period.

The number of Joseph Estrada’s advertisements also decreased significantly by 73.5 percent, to 26 from 98 advertisements during the first period. However, with this decrease came his party’s political advertisements which featured all the candidates of the party.

Bagumbayan-Volunteers for New Philippines’ Richard “Dick” Gordon  aired  only five advertisements, all on ABS-CBN 2. It should be noted that while he did air ads during the first period, he only had a few and was not even close to reaching the Comelec prescribed airtime limit.

Of these four candidates, three were featured in an advertisement in print. Aquino had a call for support advertisement by Yellow and Honest Organization in the Inquirer. Villar and Estrada were both featured in a single advertisement as guests of the Federation of International Cable TV Association’s 11th Congress.

Lakas-Kampi CMD’s Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro, Bangon Pilipinas’ (BP) Eddie “Bro. Eddie” Villanueva, Ang Kapatiran’s John Carlos “JC” delos Reyes, and independent candidates Maria Ana Consuelo “Jamby” Madrigal and Nicanor “Nick” Perlas had no advertisements on television or print.

Table 6. Number of Advertisements Aired for Vice-Presidential Candidates

Table 6

The Vice-Presidential Candidates

For the vice-presidential candidates, Legarda had a slight decrease in the number of advertisements aired, to 32 from 41 ads during the first period.

PMP’s Jejomar “Jojo” Binay aired a total of 16 advertisements, a slight decrease in  number, from 23 ads aired during the first period. Similar to the party’s presidential candidate, the decrease was made up for by  PMP party advertisements.

Interestingly, B.Bayan-VNP’s Bayani “BF” Fernando aired the most advertisements from vice-presidential candidates for the second period. Even more interesting was the increase in the number of his advertisements on NBN-4, to 16 from 4 advertisements during the first period.  His advertisements also increased over GMA 7, to 25 from 12 advertisements.

The NP’s Manuel “Mar” Roxas’ advertisements also increased in number slightly, most especially on ABS-CBN 2, to 15 from 13 ads during the first period. He aired 23 advertisements over GMA 7 for the second period as in the first.

In print, only Legarda published her own political advertisements. She had four advertisements in the Inquirer, four in the Star, and three in the Bulletin.

Binay and Fernando did have an advertisement n print, as the two were also guests in the Federation of International Cable TV Association’s 11th Congress.

Other vice-presidential candidates such as Ang Kapatiran’s Dominador “Jun” Chipeco Jr., Lakas-Kampi CMD’s Eduardo “Edu” Manzano, Kilusang Bagong Lipunan’s (KBL) Jose “Jay Sonza” Sonza and BP’s Perfecto “Kidlat” Yasay did not air or publish any advertisement.

The Senatorial Candidates

Table 7 shows all the senatorial candidates who aired advertisements over television. Unlike the first period, most of the senatorial candidates decreased their advertisement presence on primetime television.

For  the senatorial candidates, PMP’s Juan Ponce Enrile still had the most advertisements and had the third most ads among all candidates for the May 2010 elections. His current number, 46 advertisements, marked  a 40.2 percent decrease from 77 ads aired during the first period. He aired the same three kinds of ads he aired during  the first period. Enrile also published only a single advertisement, in the Bulletin.

Table 7. Number of Advertisements Aired for Senatorial Candidates

Table 7

The NP’s Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. aired the second most number of advertisements  among the senatorial candidates with 24 ads. However, this was a slight decrease from the total advertisements he  aired during the first period. He has aired the same “Asikasong Bongbong” advertisement equally on ABS-CBN 2 and GMA 7.

While Liza Maza and Satur Ocampo are running under the NP slate as guest candidates, they are still seen together in an advertisement  as  candidates of the Makabayan party, thus making the frequency of their advertisements identical. The number of their advertisements increased to 24 from 10 ads during the first period. Like Marcos, they had the same number of advertisements over ABS-CBN 2 and GMA-7.

PMP’s Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada started airing his advertisements during the second period. These were aside from the party political advertisements  where he also figured.

Lakas-Kampi CMD’s Ramon “Gets Ko” Guico Jr. and Silvestre “Bebot” Bello III, and Nationalist People’s Coalition and guest candidate of PMP Rodolfo “Ompong” Plaza aired all their advertisements over NBN 4, right before Philippine Lotto Draw.

In print, aside from Enrile, the NP’s Ramon “Mon-mon” Mitra and the PMP’s Francisco “Kit” Tatad published two and one ad, respectively. Marcos, on the other hand, has had product endorsements in print even before the campaign period.

The Party-list Groups

The second period marked the surfacing of partyt-list advertisements on television and  an increase in their ads in print.

Akap Bata, Inc. was the only party-list group that aired advertisements on primetime television.  Its presence, however, became controversial, as the group’s ad used  Manuel Villar’s jingle in its own advertisement.

In an interview by with AKAP-BATA party-list’s first nominee, Dr. Joy Alcantara, explained that it was the party-list group who asked permission from Villar’s camp to use the jingle as it had increased the candidate’s ratings and exemplified the same advocacy with that of the party-list.

However, the group’s total advertisement spending from Feb. 9 to Mar. 8 according to Pera’t Pulitika amounted to at least P23.6 million, fueling rumors that Akap-Bata party-list is actually Villar-backed.

In print, four party-list groups  published  seven advertisements. Alay Buhay party-list, a group that focuses on community development through education, livelihood and enterprise development projects, published three of the ads.

Table 8. Number of Advertisements Aired for Party-list Groups

Table 8

The  party-list group Abono published two advertisements during the second period while Bayani and Pwersa ng Bayaning Atleta both published a single advertisement.

Political Party Advertisements

Political party advertisements appeared during the period in both print and TV.  While the Nacionalista Party already aired their women and opposition themed political party advertisements, only Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino aired party advertisements on primetime.

The PMP aired a total of 11 advertisements; five on ABS-CBN 2 and six on GMA 7. The party’s advertisement featured all candidates  Estrada and  Binay and senatorial candidates Jinggoy Estrada, Tatad, Plaza, Apolinario “Jun” Lozada, Jose “Joey” de Venecia III, J.V. Bautista, Danilo “Danny” Lim, Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Ramon “Kap” Bong Revilla, Sergio “Serge” Osmeña III and Regalado “Dodong” Maambong.

Other Election-Related Advertisements

As mentioned above, there was a noticeable decrease in the number of advertisement on elections in general, most especially on ABS-CBN 2 and NBN 4. ABS-CBN 2 was then promoting the Ako Ang Simula: Himig ng Pagbabago concert and NBN-4 now featured voter education topic as part of Hatol ng Bayan 2010.
Table 9. Number of Advertisements Aired on Elections in General on Television

Table 9

More advertisements were published in print for the second period, to a total of 13 advertisements from 6 ads published during the first period. Six out of the 13 advertisements were from civil society and religious groups either as advisories or as a call for clean and honest elections.

Eight out of the 13 advertisements came from accredited election groups. Smartmatic-TIM’s advertisements focused on the credibility of the machines it was providing for the automated elections,  while the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting published ads calling for volunteers for its election watch.

Table 10. Number of Advertisements on Elections in General on Print

Total Airtime of Political Advertisements

Table 11. Total Airtime of Political Advertisements for Presidential Candidates on Primetime TV from Feb 9 – Mar 12

Table 11

A comparison of the total airtime of advertisements in the first and second period showed that Villar still had the most airtime from political advertisements. Given that the results from the timekeeping study for the second period also showed Villar having the most airtime in terms of news coverage, Villar still took the lead in terms of exposure on primetime television, both through ads and regular coverage.

Estrada came in second with a total of an hour and two minutes of airtime of political advertisements on primetime television. He had the most exposure in news program for the first period. Aquino accumulated a total of 59 minutes of political advertisement airtime,  while Gordon used up 31 minutes and 30 seconds of airtime for political advertisements.

Despite the decrease in the number of advertisements for the second period, the lead for exposure had already been established with the extravagant display of these commercials from the first period of monitoring. The decrease is an expected stretching of the Comelec prescribed airtime limit of 120 minutes per station. However, more than stretching is needed for continued exposure.

As in the previous elections, the May 2010 elections are still a political battle over the airwaves. With less than two months away before the country’s first automated elections, expect the battle to intensify further.

Download the report (in Word or PDF).

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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