Moneyed candidates still getting the most airtime; Gov’t network still biased for admin candidates; Gov’t network still biased for admin candidates

Written on May 5, 2010 – 3:27 am | by mediaandelections |

Same old, same old
Moneyed candidates still getting the most airtime;
Gov’t network still biased for admin candidates


No significant changes were evident in the way the three primetime news programs – NBN’s Teledyaryo, GMA 7’s 24 Oras, and ABS-CBN’s TV Patrol World – were covering the national elections during the period under review.

News on the leading presidential candidates still dominated the coverage by the three networks, while the vice-presidential, senatorial and party-list elections were still getting measly airtime. The leaders in the presidential race still dominated the broadcasts, the vice-presidential candidates were still not reported separately  from their standard-bearers, and established names and faces were still receiving the most airtime in the senatorial race.

In general, the first three weeks of the election period saw the three news programs devoting a significant percentage of their total airtime to election-related news. Weeks 4 and 5, however, showed declines in the coverage of the elections, except in the case of Teledyaryo. But weeks 6 and 7  saw an increase in the number of  election-related reports in  24 Oras and TV Patrol World.

Table 1.
Airtime allotted for election-related reports (as a percentage of the news hole)


Teledyaryo focused its election coverage mainly on assurances that the elections will be clean and orderly, in stories such as “PNP, nanindigan na magkakaroon ng totoo at mapayapang eleksyon (PNP assures that there will be honest and peaceful elections March 22), “Gonzales: malabong mangyari ang failure of elections” (Gonzales: failure of elections not likely, March 23) and “Malakanyang, natuwa sa mungkahi ng Comelec na guniguni lamang ang failure of elections” (Malacanang, happy about the Comelec’s suggestion that the failure of elections is imaginary, March 24).

24 Oras and TV Patrol World, however, focused on the failure of elections as a distinct possibility, and the Comelec’s perceived unpreparedness for the elections. These were  in reports such as “Banta sa halalan” (Threats to the elections, TV Patrol, March 23) and “Failure of elections, pinangangambahan ng grupong kontra-daya” (Anti-cheating group worried about failure of elections, 24 Oras, March 23).

Aside from these reports, the news programs also allotted airtime to the controversy surrounding President Arroyos’ appointment of a Chief Justice, the start of the local election campaign, and updates on the preparations for the coming elections.

Coverage of the Presidential Elections

As in the first weeks of the campaign, all three networks  devoted most of their election-related reports to the presidential race. TV Patrol World allotted 17% of its total airtime to news about the presidential candidates, while Teledyaryo allotted 15%, and 24 Oras devoted 9%.

In the seven weeks of the broadcast monitor, are there trends emerging in the amount of airtime given to specific presidential candidates?

The monitor shows that Teledyaryo has consistently given most of its airtime to reports about Lakas/Kampi standard-bearer Gilbert Teodoro, thus again raising questions about the public network’s bias for the administration candidate. He is closely followed by Nacionalista Party candidate Manuel Villar in terms of airtime.  Richard Gordon, Nicanor Perlas, and John Carlos delos Reyes consistently receive minimal  coverage from Teledyaryo.

While Teledyaro initially  covered  only five out of the ten original presidential contenders, by the 6th and 7th weeks, it was  covering all nine of the aspirants. (With the disqualification of KBL’s Vetellano Acosta, the field had narrowed slightly from ten to nine.)

Table 2.
Teledyaryo’s airtime for the presidential candidates


The news program 24 Oras, on the other hand, has consistently covered Villar, the Liberal Party’s Benigno Aquino III and PMP’s Joseph Estrada. Coverage of Teodoro and Delos Reyes in 24 Oras decreased in weeks 6 and 7, while Richard Gordon and Nicanor Perlas were given more airtime during this period than in previous weeks.

Table 3.
24 Oras’ airtime for the presidential candidates


TV Patrol World also showed consistently frequent coverage of Aquino and Villar over the seven-week period of the monitor, highlighting the intense political rivalry between the two. Independent candidates Nicanor Perlas and Jamby Madrigal and Ang Kapatiran’s Delos Reyes were consistently the least covered presidential candidates by TV Patrol World.

Table 4.
TV Patrol World’s airtime for presidential candidates


Overall, the seven-week period of the monitor shows that the presidential candidates from the most moneyed political parties – Villar, Aquino, Teodoro and Estrada – dominated the airtime of the major three news programs. From their measly airtime share, the others – Gordon, Madrigal, and Villanueva – are apparently  considered  as consistent midpack players who cannot hope to challenge the leading four candidates .

Of the  presidential candidates, only two can be considered  “fresh faces,” or those who had not previously occupied powerful national government positions – Nicanor Perlas and John Carlos Delos Reyes. In short, these two are candidates  the people hardly know. And yet, both have been consistent bottom-dwellers in terms of broadcast airtime since the start of the campaign period.

Table 5.
Overall airtime for presidential candidates


The biggest story during the monitor period was the victory of boxer Manny Pacquiao over Joshua Clottey.  But this story acquired political color as the presidential aspirants strove to bask in the boxing champ’s reflected glory. Manuel Villar exploited the Pacquaio story best, in reports such as “Villar, kasama sa pagsalubong kay Pacquiao” (Villar to join in welcoming Pacquiao, 24 Oras, March 22), “Pacquiao, handang ikampanya si Villar” (Pacquaio ready to campaign for Villar, TV Patrol World, March  22) and “Pacquiao at Villar” (Pacquaio and Villar, 24 Oras, March 26). Joseph Estrada, in turn, received airtime for critiquing Pacquiao’s endorsement of Villar, in the story “Estrada: Pacquiao hindi epektibong endorser ng pulitiko,” (Estrada: Pacquaio not an effective political endorser, TV Patrol World, March 16).

The Vice Presidential Elections

The vice-presidential candidates remain  mere appendages of the presidential candidates, without any significant reporting about their qualifications and platforms. Teledyaryo allotted less than 1% of its total airtime to the vice-presidential elections, while 24 Oras devoted to them a mere 3% of its airtime. TV Patrol World covered the vice-presidential elections the most, at almost 11% of its total airtime.

Table 6.
Overall airtime for vice presidential candidates
March 15-26


Reports about the vice presidential candidates either showed them as part of a slate, or in debates such as  “Vice-presidentiables, kanya-kanyang patutsada” (Vice-presidential candidates slam each other, TV Patrol World, March 15), or “Hiritan 2010” (24 Oras, March 16).

Jejomar Binay, like all the other vice-presidential candidates, was not the subject of any special reports. But he led the amount of airtime allocated to the vice-presidential campaign because of his consistent inclusion in many election-related news stories. Binay was  followed by the Nacionalista Party’s Loren Legarda and Manuel Roxas of the Liberal Party, both of whom have been steadily covered since the start of the official campaign period.

Sonza, Yasay and Chipeco continued to be virtually ignored by the broadcast news media, with their combined airtime not even coming close to Binay’s.

Coverage of the Senatorial Elections

Henry Caunan. Nanette Espinosa. Jo Imbong. Alma Lood. Hector Tarrazona. All of them are senatorial aspirants. And yet they, along with many others, remain largely unknown and unheard-of, mainly because the media have not provided them the platform to discuss their respective legislative agendas.

The first three weeks of the official campaign period saw the three news shows providing airtime to the most number of senatorial candidates. But this has since declined in the following weeks of the campaign period.

Table 7.
Number of senators given airtime


Indeed, of the 61 senatorial candidates vying for 12 slots in May, only the most familiar names received airtime. These were generally those who have already held elective posts, or are popular actors. Five members of the Lakas/Kampi senatorial slate made it to the top ten most covered candidates in terms of airtime, while four are from the Nacionalista Party. One candidate each came from the Liberal Party and the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino.

Table 8.
Most covered senatorial candidates
March 15-26


Senator Juan Ponce Enrile led the pack of candidates with the most airtime, especially from TV Patrol World, which gave  lengthy coverage to his opinion on the possibility of a military takeover in the event of a failure of elections (TV Patrol World, March 24), as well as a feature on his refusal to resign as Senate President.

Raul Lambino was propelled to the top ten in terms of airtime by virtue of the extensive coverage he received in Teledyaryo as incidental interviewee in stories about Gilbert Teodoro’s campaign sorties, such as “Gibo Multiplier Movement, inilunsad na” (Gibo Multiplier Movement launched, Teledyaryo, March 24), “Kampanya ng Lakas/Kampi dinagsa” (Lakas/Kampi campaign mobbed, Teledyaryo, March 19) and “Edu, dumayo sa Mamburao” (Edu goes to Mamburao, Teledyaryo, March 22).

New entrants into the top 10 senatorial candidates included Liza Maza of Gabriela and guest candidate of the Nacionalista Party and Rey Langit of Lakas/Kampi. Maza entered the list by virtue of a lengthy feature entitled “Asiwa,” (Uneasy, TV Patrol World, March 24) and an equally  lengthy critique of President Arroyo’s appointment of a Chief Justice (24 Oras, March 22).

Coverage of the Party List Elections

Of the 187 party-list groups accredited by the Commission on Elections, only a fraction have received airtime since the official start of the campaign period. Teledyaryo has been the worst at covering the party-list elections, while TV Patrol World has been covering the most number of party-list groups.

Table 9.
Number of party-list groups given airtime


As a result of TV Patrol World’s coverage of the party-list elections, the public has been exposed to several whimsically-named groups, such as Pacyaw (Pilipino Association for Country / Urban Poor Youth Advancement and Welfare), A Tambay (Ang Tao Muna at Bayan), Adam (Adhikain ng mga Dakilang Anak Maharlika) and Yes We Can – but unfortunately not about what marginalized sectors these groups stand for, and what they will do to represent those sectors.

The two-week monitoring period showed only eight party-list groups as receiving more than 40 seconds of total airtime each.

Table 10.
Most covered party-list groups
March 15-26


But most of  the party-list groups above received the most airtime during the monitoring period not because of their plans to ease the plight of the marginalized sectors they are representing. Rather, the coverage centered on their dubious claims to represent the marginalized; the questionable qualifications of their nominees, who in no way belong to these marginalized sectors, as required by the law; and their close links to Malacanang and the President. Both 24 Oras and TV Patrol World featured stories on the assertions of election watchdog Kontra-Daya, as well as party-list organizations Bayan Muna and Kabataan, that these groups should be disqualified.

The party-list group Alyansa ng Media at Showbiz (AMS), supposedly representing media practitioners and the “show business” industry, received a significant amount of airtime from TV Patrol World because its second nominee, cosmetic surgeon Dr. Manny Calayan, is neither a media practitioner nor a member of the show business community.

Ang Galing Pinoy, which claims to represent security guards, has as its nominees Pampanga congressman and presidential son Mikey Arroyo, Lubao Mayor Dennis Pineda, and Bacolor Mayor Romeo “Buddy” Dungca. All three are Pampanga elected officials and members of the ruling Lakas-Kampi coalition.

The Akap-Bata party-list, purporting to represent children’s welfare, has had to parry accusations that linked the group to presidential aspirant Manuel Villar, after they used Villar’s campaign jingle.

The 1 United Transportation Koalisyon (1-Utak) is a party-list group that supposedly represents the transport sector, but its first nominee is former Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes, its second nominee  former Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB) official Vigor Mendoza, and its third nominee  Homero Mercado, owner of the bus company HM Transport.

The Adhikain ng mga Dakilang Anak ng Maharlika’s (Adam) first nominee is Energy Undersecretary Zamzamin Ampatuan, nephew of Maguindanao Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr., who is implicated in the Maguindanao Massacre.

Conclusion: not much change is taking place, either in the coverage of the campaign, or the campaign itself.

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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