Radio Coverage of the 2010 National Elections
CMFR Monitor of the Media Coverage
of the 2010 National and Local Elections
(April 12-16 and April 19-23, 2010)
There are striking differences in the elections coverage of radio when compared to other media. While the elections occupied a substantial amount of airtime and space in television, print and online media, the coverage of AM radio was consistently minimal – the number of election-related reports barely reached a fourth of the news hole (total number of reports). There were even entire days when there was no single election-related report from any of the three radio programs monitored, namely Boses of DZRB, One on One with Igan kasama si Lala Roque (OOI) of DZBB and Tambalang Failon at Sanchez (TFS) of DZMM. These three news and 7public affairs programs were monitored for two weeks, from April 12 to 16 and April 19 to 23.
Yet, there are also similarities. As in television, the senatorial and party-list elections were barely discussed in radio. And if they were, the reports and commentaries were limited to the known and/or moneyed candidates.
Number of election-related reports
The Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) found that out of the total 290 news reports in the three radio programs, only 77 were election-related (or 26.55 percent).
Total Number of Election-Related Reports In Boses, One On One With Igan Kasama Si Lala Roque, and Tambalang Failon At Sanchez
Of the 77 election-related reports, 54 (70.13 percent) were about elections in general, and 25 (32.47 percent) were on the presidential elections. The vice presidential, senatorial and party-list elections were least discussed, with a total of only 22 reports (28.57 percent).
The tallying system allows for multiple counts when a report takes on several of the following: presidential, vice-presidential, senatorial, party-list elections, and elections in general.
Boses aired the most number of election-related reports with a total of 38, followed by TFS with 22, and OOI with 17. When compared to their own news hole, Boses still has the highest proportion of election-related reports at 34.86 percent, followed by OOI at 24.29 percent, and TFS at 19.82 percent.
Only TFS and Boses had an election-related report as their banner/lead story, though only once for each program.
Total Number of Election-Related Reports Vs News Hole In Boses, One On One With Igan Kasama Si Lala Roque, And Tambalang Failon at Sanchez
First week vs. second week
Forty-four of the 77 election–related reports (or 57.14 percent) were aired on the first week of the monitoring period (April 12 to 16). Of the 44 reports, 41 were on elections in general, seven on the presidential elections, four on the vice-presidential elections, three on the senatorial elections and five on the party-list elections.
Boses aired the most number of election-related reports with 22, followed by TFS with 14, and OOI with only eight.
The bulk of election–related reports during this week were on the following: the preparations done by the Commission on Elections (Comelec), the problems and scandals linked to election automation, and the exodus of stalwart members of Lakas-KAMPI-CMD to either Nacionalista Party or Liberal Party.
On the second week of monitoring (April 19 to 23), 33 election-related reports (42.86 percent of the total 77 election-related reports) were aired. Of the 33 reports, 17 were on the presidential elections, 7 on the vice-presidential elections, two on the senatorial elections and three on the party-list elections.
It was still Boses that aired the most number of election-related reports with 16 during the second week of monitoring, followed by OOI with nine, and TFS with only eight.
Reports on the Comelec still make up the bulk of election-related reports on the second week. Issues hounding the administration party Lakas-KAMPI-CMD started to die down, while reports about the campaigns of presidential candidates began to increase.
Overall, however, reports on the elections were minimal. Rather than the elections, the three radio programs focused more on the country’s water and power shortage, and the attempt by acting Justice Sec. Alberto Agra to dismiss the murder charges of governor Zaldy Ampatuan of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and acting Maguindanao vice governor Akmad Ampatuan.
Election-related reports vs. news hole
While TFS and OOI usually aired just two to three election-related reports in one day, Boses averaged slightly higher with four election-related reports.
The ratio of election-related reports to the news hole is also highest in Boses, with 66.67 percent on April 21 (two election-related reports/three reports). The reports were about Lakas-KAMPI-CMD’s presidential nominee Gilberto Teodoro and his “Green Army”, and the Confederation of Non-Stock Savings and Loan Associations (CONSLA) party-list.
However, Boses did not air any election-related report on April 16 and 23. On April 16, most of the program was devoted to the Pampanga gubernatorial row between Fr. Eduardo Panlilio and Lilia Pineda, a known ally of Gloria Arroyo. Meanwhile, on April 23, the news and commentaries in Boses were mostly about the Land Transportation Office (LTO) and traffic violations in Metro Manila.
Boses: Election-Related Reports vs. News Hole
The ratio of election-related reports to the news hole in OOI was highest on April 13 with 60 percent (three election-related reports/five reports). These reports were about the following: new advertising strategies of political candidates, the problems of the partylist system, and the allegation by Defense Sec. Norberto Gonzalez that 30 percent of the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines was not functional.
One on One with Igan Kasama si Lala Roque: Election-related Reports vs. News hole
April 15 was the only day that OOI did not air any election-related report. News and commentaries concentrated on the increase of electricity rates by Meralco and the Maguindanao massacre.
Among the three radio programs, TFS has the lowest ratio between election-related reports and the news hole, with a peak of only 55.56 percent on April 14 (five election-related reports/nine news reports). This episode tackled the scandals and anomalies in the contracts of Comelec with various suppliers, including the controversial OTC Paper Supply.
TFS did not have any election-related report on April 21. This episode was devoted entirely to the dropping of the murder charges against ARMM governor Zaldy Ampatuan and acting Maguindanao vice governor Akmad Ampatuan.
CMFR also observed that 41 of the 77 election-related reports (or 53.25 percent) were placed at the second half of the radio programs. Reports about the power and water shortages in the country, and the developments in the Maguindanao massacre were reported and discussed first before election-related issues.
There were only two election-related stories that were aired as banner or lead: Boses’ April 12 report on overseas absentee voting and TFS’ April 14 report on Comelec’s anomalous contracts.
Lakas-KAMPI-CMD presidential nominee Gilberto Teodoro was the most covered presidential candidate. Thirteen out of 25 presidential reports or almost 52 percent have Teodoro as their subject. Nine of the 13 reports (69.23 percent) on Teodoro were from Boses of the government-owned DZRB.
Teodoro is followed by Nacionalista Party presidential nominee Manny Villar with seven out of 25 (28 percent) reports. The third most covered presidential candidate is Bagumbayan-Volunteers for a New Philippines (B-VNP) presidential nominee Richard Gordon, with six reports.
Meanwhile, most reports on the vice-presidential elections were about B-VNP vice-presidential nominee Bayani Fernando (seven reports). Tied at second were Nacionalista Party vice-presidential nominee Loren Legarda and Liberal Party vice-presidential nominee Manuel Roxas with two reports each.
Senatorial candidates were the least covered in the entire two-week monitoring period. Out of the total 77 election-related reports, only four (5. 19 percent) were on the senatorial elections.
Moreover, only three senatorial candidates were mentioned: Ramon Bong Revilla, Jr. of Lakas-KAMPI-CMD, Jose de Venecia III and Juan Ponce Enrile, both from Partido ng Masang Pilipino (PMP). De Venecia was mentioned most with two reports while Revilla and Enrile were both mentioned once.
Meanwhile, OOI had no report on senatorial elections.
CMFR found that party-list candidates were also rarely covered. Throughout the two-week monitoring period, there were only five out of 77 (or 6.49 percent) election-related reports on the party-list elections.
Only four of the 187 accredited partylists were mentioned. These were: Ang Galing Pinoy (AG), Ang Ladlad (ANG LADLAD), CONSLA and 1-United Transport Koalisyon (1-UTAK).
AG, 1-UTAK, and CONSLA have been roundly criticized as “sham” party-lists because of links to the administration. AG’s nominees are Mikey Arroyo and Lubao, Pampanga mayor Dennis Pineda, a known Arroyo ally. The first nominee of 1-UTAK is Energy sec. Angelo Reyes. Meanwhile, CONSLA’s nominees are members of the military: former Air Force Col. Ricardo Nolasco, Jr. and Navy Rear Admiral George Uy. CONSLA allegedly has up to P60 billion in financial assets.
Note that CONSLA party-list occupied almost all of the whole April 21 episode of Boses. The hosts Ed Verzola and Ellaine Fuentes interviewed CONSLA nominee Nolasco, and the three discussed the aims of the partylist for most of the entire program.While Boses also briefly discussed the history and significance of party-lists in the Legislature, most of the commentary fell short of promoting CONSLA party-list.
The April 13 episode of Boses reeked of bigotry when Verzola derisively used the word “bakla” (faggot). Verzola also sarcastically thanked Comelec under the assumption that it was the government agency that decided to allow Ang Ladlad (ANG LADLAD) party-list to run. “Wasakin niyo pa ang party-list system. Walaghiyain niyo!”, Verzola said of the Comelec decision. (Go ahead and ruin the party-list system!) ANG LADLAD aims to represent lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transsexual persons in Congress.
It was not Comelec, however, that approved ANG LADLAD’s bid to run. In fact, it denied ANG LADLAD’s registration first in 2007, and in 2009 on the grounds of lack in membership and “immorality”, respectively. The Supreme Court overturned the Comelec decision, hence allowing for the first time the participation of the partylist in the elections.
Meanwhile, TFS had no report on party-list elections.
With 23 reports, Lakas-KAMPI-CMD was the most covered compared to other political parties. This surge can be traced to the issue of the administration party’s reported loss of support from its stalwart members, Gloria Arroyo and House Speaker Prospero Nograles.
The Liberal Party came in a far second with only nine reports.
Other subjects in the radio programs include businesses and corporations, polls and surveys, civil society groups, the media, think-tanks and watch groups, and other sectors. These subjects accumulated a total of 109 reports.
Out of the 109 reports, 45 (41.28 percent) were on government institutions and government agencies. Government officials, especially those in Comelec, were also the subject of 15 reports out of the total 109 (13.76 percent). Common subjects were Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez and Comelec commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal.
Most election-related reports have themes related to Comelec. Nineteen out of the 77 (24.68 percent) election-related reports were on the disqualification of candidates, the rules on campaigning, precinct clustering, and overseas absentee voting.
Election automation also occupied a significant bulk of the election-related reports, as the 2010 elections is the first fully-automated elections exercise in the country. Eleven out of 77 (14.29 percent) were on the automated elections.
There were also some reports about civil society groups – such as Kontra Daya, Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV), and National Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL) – calling for a clean and transparent elections.
Sources and Background
In all the 77 election-related reports, six of these reports (7.79 percent) cited Comelec as source. Another six relied (7.79 percent) on Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez as source of news stories.
For the most part, reports in the three radio programs provided background to their stories. News reports with background were at 57.89 percent (22 out of 38 of election-related reports) in Bosese, 76.47 percent (13 out of 17 election-related reports) in OOI, and 77.27 percent (17 out of 22 election-related reports) in TFS.
However, there were still a relevant amount of reports that lacked background. Of the total 77 election-related reports, 25 (32.47 percent) did not have background.
Of the 77 election-related reports, 40 (51.95 percent) were without slant and are thus considered neutral. Twenty-eight (36.36 percent) are positively slanted for a particular candidate or personality, while 18 (23.38 percent) are negatively slanted against a candidate or personality.
The tallying system allows for double counts when a report is both negatively and positively slanted.
Boses showed consistent bias for Gloria Arroyo and her allies, and consistent bias against those in the opposition and known critics of the government.
While both OOI and TFS had occasional bias for or against some particular candidate or personality, there was no noticeable trend. The biased reports in OOI and TFS can be attributed more to professional lapses than institutional policy.
Slanted and Neutral Reports In Boses, One On One With Igan Kasama Si Lala Roque,and Tambalang Failon at Sanchez