The Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility Monitor of Media Coverage of the May 2010 Elections (For the period Feb 9-27, 2010)

Written on March 8, 2010 – 3:46 am | by mediaandelections |

CMFR has been monitoring media coverage of Philippine elections since 1992, and reporting the results through the Philippine Journalism Review and, in 2004 and 2007, in special publications. For 2010 it is monitoring selected news broadcasts by major Manila based networks and the reporting by the Manila based broadsheets on the elections. An added feature of the CMFR media monitor of election coverage is the monitor of the coverage of the national and local elections by the Cebu Citizens Press Council, which CMFR has engaged as a partner for that part of the project. Following is the first of several reports CMFR will be releasing every two weeks for the duration of the national and local campaigns. It is limited to the timekeeping and Cebu analyses. The discourse analysis section of the report and analysis of the Bisaya dailies SunStar SuperBalita and Banat will follow shortly.

For more information about this project, please visit  You may contact CMFR at the following numbers: (+63 2) 894-1326/840-0903/840-0889. CMFR’s email address is [email protected].

(Broadcast Timekeeping Analysis)

Television has become the primary source of information for most Filipinos. They have learned to trust their favorite television news shows, and are so heavily influenced by the medium that they are likely to base most of their major decisions on public issues, including who to vote for, on what they watch on TV. Thus, it is important that the television media be examined for how it frames its news stories and angles its approach to reporting, to determine whether the content and presentation carry obvious or hidden biases intended to sway opinions.

The Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility monitored the episodes of three major television news shows aired over a three-week period, starting February 9, when the campaign period officially began. Excluding Saturdays and Sundays, the monitor covered 14 episodes each of NBN 4’s Teledyaryo, ABS-CBN’s TV Patrol, and GMA 7’s 24 Oras.

The latter two are the leading news programs in the country, while Teledyaryo, produced by the government-run National Broadcasting Network, has been included in the monitor to examine the role of public broadcasting stations in the dissemination of relevant election information.

Coverage by these networks started off strong when the campaign period started, with both Teledyaryo and 24 Oras allotting more than 60% of their total news coverage to the elections. TV Patrol started with 46%.

The next few days, however, saw the tapering off of the amount of time dedicated to election coverage. The news show which allotted the most airtime to election coverage was NBN 4’s Teledyaryo, with an average of 33%, followed by TV Patrol with 32%. GMA 7’s 24 Oras allotted around 27% of its airtime to election coverage over the three-week period. Other issues—most notably the El Niño phenomenon and the resulting water shortage in the country—began to take primacy in the coverage as the campaign period wore on.


Coverage of the Presidential Elections

As expected, election news coverage was focused on the presidential elections, with all three news shows devoting most of their election airtime to the activities of the major contenders. GMA’s 24 Oras allotted 17% of its total airtime to the presidential race, while TV Patrol had 13% and Teledyaryo allotted 6% of its total airtime.

The most covered presidential candidate was Joseph “Erap” Estrada of the Partido ng Masang Pilipino. Although the former President did not lead in any of the three news shows in terms of time allotment, he received consistent coverage from all of them. Aside from the “sorties” coverage allotted for most of the presidential candidates, Estrada was also the subject of special news reports, such as the 24 Oras story on Feb 16, “Erap, tinanggap ang pagso-sorry ni Yasay,” TV Patrol’s “Erap, pinapaatras” on the Feb 23 episode.

Manuel “Manny” Villar Jr. of the Nacionalista Party was the most-covered presidential candidate of the news show 24 Oras, and also received consistently high news coverage.

Gilbert’ “Gibo” Teodoro Jr. of the ruling Lakas-Kampi CMD party was almost-exclusively covered by Teledyaryo, emerging as the third most-covered candidate of the ten who were officially running as of the period monitored. It should also be noted that Teledyaryo did not give any airtime to half of the ten presidential aspirants.


Only four leading presidential contenders received the lion’s share of broadcast news airtime for the period. The airtime allotted to Joseph Estrada, Manuel Villar, Gilbert Teodoro and Benigno Aquino, Jr., totalled 134.5 minutes, or almost half of the combined airtime of the remaining six presidential aspirants, at 71.14 minutes.

The Vice Presidential Elections

Compared to its coverage of the presidential aspirants, the networks gave woeful coverage to the vice-presidential candidates. TV Patrol and 24 Oras gave the most coverage to the vice-presidential candidates, with an average of 5% of their airtime. Teledyaryo allotted an average of just 1% to vice-presidential news coverage. But even this meager allotment of airtime treated the vice-presidential candidates as mere appendages of the standard bearers in the campaign trail, and did not focus on their specific advocacies or platforms. This is evident in news items such as “Proclamation rally ng Nacionalista Party, walang artista” (24 Oras, Feb 12), or “Teodoro at mga kapartido, nanuyo ng boto sa Isabela” (TV Patrol, Feb 19).

An exception is a story on the cheaper medicines law, “Murang gamot,” aired over TV Patrol on Feb 26, which prominently featured Manuel “Mar” Roxas’ role in the passing of the law.

The most covered vice-presidential candidate over the three-week period was Loren Legarda, guest vice-presidential candidate of the Nacionalista Party.

Vice Presidential

Coverage of the Senatorial Elections

Two members of the ruling Lakas-Kampi CMD party emerged with the most airtime over the period covered by the study. The most covered senatorial candidate, resigned Cabinet secretary Silvestre Bello III and actor Ramon “Bong” Revilla,” both belong to the administration ticket. Two members of the Nacionalista Party entered the top ten most-covered senatorial candidates, while four came from the Liberal Party.

Military men Danilo Lim and Ariel Querubin, both detained for mutiny, and both running for senatorial posts, made the most of their jailtime campaign, receiving major coverage from all three news shows in stories such as “Lim, pwede nang magpiyansa” (24 Oras, Feb 17). Brig. Gen. Lim, running as an independent but adopted by the Liberal Party, is detained on charges of rebellion in connection with the 2007 Manila Peninsula Siege, while Col. Querubin is in jail for his involvement in the 2006 Marine standoff in Fort Bonifacio.

Miriam Defensor Santiago’s speeches during the campaign trail made her a very soundbite-worthy candidate, earning herself special stories such as “Tirada ni Santiago” (24 Oras, Feb 12) which featured her lambasting the critics of Nacionalista Party presidential bet Manny Villar.


The list was also dominated by current members of the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Party-List Coverage

There was hardly any airtime allotted for the party-list elections, and the groups running for party-list positions. Of the total 187 party-list groups, only 23 were covered by the three news shows in total, with the most covered party-list group, 1-UTAK receiving only 1.39 minutes of total airtime from all three shows.


Of the three networks, TV Patrol covered the party list elections the most, with a measly 2% of its airtime, while Teledyaryo allotted 1% and 24 Oras allotted less than 1% of its total airtime. TV Patrol also covered the most number of party-list groups, with 19 party-list groups covered, in stories such as “Pulse Asia survey: 69% walang alam sa party list” (TV Patrol, Feb 10). In contrast, 24 Oras only covered seven party-list groups. Teledyaryo covered only one party-list group for the entire three-week period.

Despite the TV networks’ dismal coverage of the party-list elections, some trends have emerged in how broadcast media covered the party-list groups. For example, it is notable that party-list groups associated with the current administration were receiving the most airtime during the period monitored. For example, 1-UTAK has for its nominee Energy Secretary and former Armed Forces Chief of Staff Angelo Reyes, prominently featured in stories such as “Supply ng kuryente, sasapat” (24 Oras, Feb 18). Four other party-list groups in the top 10—Agbiag, BABAE KA, Kalahi and LYPAD—were mentioned in a Malacañang Office of External Affairs (OEA) memorandum last October 2006 as the main party-list groups to receive Palace support in the 2007 elections.

ANAK has among its nominees for this year’s elections retired Police Gen. Eliseo de la Paz, one of the controversial “Euro-generals” of 2008. BIGKIS is identified with Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) chairman Ephraim Genuino (whose son Erwin is also a mayoral candidate in Makati City) who heads the group. Among its founding members is Virgilio Angelo, former administrator of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), who, in 2004, authorized with then-Labor Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas the transfer of P530 million from the OWWA Medicare Fund to PhilHealth, which allegedly allowed Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to use the funds for her electoral campaign.

Biyaheng Pinoy, which competed in the 2007 elections, has among its nominees former Mandaluyong City Vice-Mayor Arsenio Abalos, brother of former Comelec Chairman Benjamin Abalos. Kasangga is a party-list group with Ma. Lourdes Arroyo as its Congressional representative.

Summary of Findings

The CMFR’s monitoring of the first three weeks of the election campaign coverage by the broadcast media found that:

1) Election coverage was at its peak on February 9, the first day of official the official campaign period, but later tapered off as the broadcast media outlets focused on other urgent issues such as the El Niño phenomenon, the water shortage, and the threat of brownouts;

2) The three major news shows in the study devoted most of their airtime to covering four presidential candidates: Joseph Estrada, Manuel Villar Jr., Gilberto Teodoro Jr., and Benigno Aquino III;

3) There was very minimal of coverage of vice-presidential candidates as distinct political personas from their standard bearers, or their political parties;

4) The most covered senatorial candidates were mostly former government and military officials, or members of Congress who are running for re-election;

5) There was almost no coverage of the party-list process, and very few parties received airtime. There was no discussion of the importance of the party-list elections as an opportunity for the marginalized to receive representation in Congress, or stories on crucial party-list sectors such as those on labor, agricultural workers, women, indigenous peoples. Those party-list groups who did receive coverage can mainly be linked to the current administration, either because they have received tacit Malacañang endorsement, or because they are backed by administration officials and relatives.

(Cebu Print Media Coverage)

For 2010, CMFR is monitoring the coverage of the national elections, but has also entered into a partnership with the Cebu Citizens Press Council to include a monitor of the Cebu press’s coverage of both the national and local elections. Following is the CCPC team’s initial report for the first 17 days of the campaign.

The Cebu newspapers monitored (Banat,Cebu Daily News, SunStar Cebu, SunStar SuperBalita, and The Freeman) by the CCPC team were noticeably focused on the local rather than the national elections. Although the presidential elections did receive attention, these still came in second in terms of number of reports. Some reports were also on the presidential, vice presidential, senatorial and party list elections, but in general these reports were fewer and far between compared to those on Cebu’s local elections. Significantly, the Cebu press also reported on local elections in other provinces, indicating an understandable preferential bias for the proximate and the more immediately relevant.

Cebu’s English dailies (Feb.10-27)

The English-language dailies in Cebu monitored from February 10 to 27 were Cebu Daily News, SunStar Cebu, and The Freeman. Pages monitored were the front page and inside pages including the main news sections, Business, Nation, Community, and other similar sections except Sports, Entertainment, Life, and World pages.

All three Cebu English-language dailies combined allotted 19% of their news pages for election-related reports (389 election-related reports to 2,010 news hole). The Freeman had the most number of election-related reports (145), followed by SunStar (144) and Cebu Daily News (100). In proportion however to their respective news holes, Cebu Daily News led with 20% election-related reports, followed by SunStar and The Freeman with 19% each.


Most of the election-related reports were in the inside pages (92%). Of the 30 election-related reports in the front page, 19 reports were banner stories. Of the 359 election-related reports in the inside pages, 227 (63%) were in the main news section. The rest were distributed in the other sections like Business, Nation and Community. This could indicate primary treatment the newspapers gave in the placement of election-related reports.


Placement 2

Focus/Election-Related Area

Cebu’s English-language dailies focused on the local elections (161 reports) rather than the national elections, indicating an expected bias toward what is immediately relevant and proximate to the local readers. “Elections in general” was covered in 145 reports and the presidential election in 92 reports. Far behind were the coverage of the senatorial election (34), vice-presidential election (29), and party-list election (25). Coverage of local elections outside Cebu (i.e. Pampanga, Maguindanao) which were carried by all three newspapers due to its national significance or interest, are separated under the category “Local (non-Cebu)” with 28 reports.



The “Campaign” theme which covers sorties, strategies and other activities in the campaign trail was at the top of the local newspapers’ coverage of the 2010 elections with 132 reports. Commission on Elections (Comelec) issuances, rules, promulgations, actions and processes under the theme, “Other Comelec-related issues,” was the second most covered election-related theme with 110 reports. Notably, the local press gave considerable space for candidates’ platforms under the theme, “Development/Policy Issues,” with 93 reports. Cockfight, mudslinging, or accusations-counter-accusations among candidates also caught the Cebu English-language newspapers’ attention with 71 reports. This was followed by “Personality/Track Record” with 63 reports.

Among the major themes, the least covered were “The Arroyo factor” and “Complaints on irregularities” with only 23 reports each. Also, “Poll automation” did not figure in as a primary theme with only 32 reports which include stories about efforts by the Comelec and civil society groups to educate the public about poll automation, and assurances by Comelec and Smartmatic-TIM officials about the integrity of the process.

The top development or policy issues were education (20) and the economy (18), followed by corruption (14), and governance (9). Health or cheaper medicines (8), infrastructure/facilities (8), peace and order (7), poverty (6), the environment (6), anti-illegal drugs (3), and senior citizens’ concerns (3) were also reported as among the advocacies of the candidates. Notably, there was little to zero coverage of issues like the Reproductive Health Bill, Charter Change, and women and children. At the local level, the results of the May 2007 poll recount that proclaimed previous losers as winners hogged the news pages, especially about the situation in the northern Cebu town of Daanbantayan, a potential election hotspot due to the intense rivalry between two political camps that will again face off in the coming elections.

Themes 1Themes 2


The most reported news subject was the Comelec (94), followed by Cebu City mayor Tomas Osmeña (62). Among the candidates for president, Manuel Jr. “Manny” Villar of Nacionalista Party (58) and Benigno Simeon III “Noynoy” Aquino of the Liberal Party (56) were the most frequently reported news subjects, followed by Gibo Teodoro of Lakas-Kampi (35).

Other frequently reported news subjects were the Liberal Party (45), Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia (42), President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (36), Jonathan “Atan” Guardo (35), the Philippine National Police (33), and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) or civil society groups. Guardo’s prominence both as a news subject and news source was largely brought his rivalry with Tomas Osmeña for congressman of Cebu City South District.

Of those running for vice president, only both Manuel “Mar” Roxas (23) and Loren Legarda (15) figured quite prominently as news subjects. In the local scene, incumbents had the advantage over their rivals as in the case of Mayor Osmeña (62) versus Guardo (35) and reelectionist Governor Gwen Garcia (42) versus Hilario Davide III (17). Garcia’s runningmate Glen Soco (19) however had more frequent coverage over incumbent vice governor Greg Sanchez. The pair of Garcia and Soco, both single, has been rumored to have a love interest angle.

At the local level, the results of the May 2007 poll recount that proclaimed previous losers as winners hogged the news pages, especially about the situation in the northern Cebu town of Daanbantayan, a potential election hotspot due to the intense rivalry between two political camps that will again face off in the coming elections. The court declared Augusto Corro the rightful winner in the 2007 mayoralty elections against incumbent Sun Shimura, son of the town’s vice mayor Ma. Luisa Loot.

Campaigns and activities of NGOs, school and civic groups on voters’ education and for cleaner elections were also reported (30).

Of those running for senator, those who became news subjects were former Cebu governor Lito Osmeña (9), Gilbert Remulla (7), Serge Osmeña (6), Liza Maza (6), Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. (5), Vicente “Tito” Sotto III (5), Miriam Defensor-Santiago (5), Juan Ponce Enrile (4), and Saturnino “Satur” Ocampo (4). Others were Ana Theresia “Risa” Hontiveros-Baraquel (3), Jose “Joey” de Venecia III (3), Adel Tamano (3), General Danilo “Danny” Lim (3), Franklin “Frank” Drilon (3), Ariel Querubin (3), Ramon “Monmon” Mitra (3), and Pilar Juliana “Pia” Cayetano (3).

Among the party-list groups, only the anti-communist group and Cebu-based Alliance for Nationalism and Democracy (ANAD) (5), and leftists Gabriela (4) and Bayan Muna (3) have been reported about so far.

Subjects 2


The top 10 most interviewed or quoted news sources in election-related reports were the Comelec (98), Cebu City mayor Tomas Osmeña (49), PNP/Police (41), NGO/Civil society (36), Jonathan Guardo (20), Cebu governor Gwen Garcia (19), Media (17), Noynoy Aquino (13), Manny Villar (12), and Gibo Teodoro (11) who is also tied with Cebu City representative Antonio Cuenco. Media as a news source means that the media outlet or person concerned became part of the news and was interviewed for comment. This included the complaint of senatorial candidate Lito Osmeña whose camp accused a giant TV network of refusing to air his local advertisement because it was in Cebuano language, an accusation which the TV network had denied.

As with news subjects, local incumbents had more opportunities to be interviewed compared to their rivals. Gubernatorial bet Hilario Davide III for example was only sought as a news source six (6) times compared to his opponent, Governor Gwen Garcia (19). Either Davide or his campaign made him scarce as a news source or Garcia who gets regular interviews by virtue of being governor had managed to set the agenda in an election-related angle. Also, both aspirants have been politically cordial to each other so far, unlike Osmeña and Guardo, which could explain the relative lack of exposure of Davide in the news as a rival of a major incumbent, given mass media’s innate bias toward the controversial.

Sources 2


The election-related reports of the three Cebu English dailies were generally neutral at 86%. That means 333 out of 389 election-related reports from February 10 to 27 were neutral. SunStar Cebu had the most number of neutral reports both numerically (135 neutral articles) and proportionally (94%), followed by Cebu Daily News (83 neutral articles, 83%), and The Freeman (115 neutral articles, 79%). Most of the reports had adequate background at 86%.

Of the reports deemed slanted (14%), the positive slants outnumbered the negative slants by almost a half, 40 is to 22. Seven (7) positive slants were for Noynoy Aquino, six (6) for Manny Villar, four (4) for Tomas Osmeña, three (3) for Loren Legarda, and three (3) for ANAD Party-list. Five (5) negative slants were against Villar, three (3) each against the Comelec and Jonathan Guardo, and two (2) each against President Arroyo and Tomas Osmeña.

Slant does not necessarily indicate manifest or deliberate bias. In most of the election-related reports that were coded as positively or negatively slanted, the latent content or the more subtle results of many different factors in the reports were considered – such as missing to get the side of a news subject on a major issue or accusation that requires his or her reply or rebuttal, and lack of adequate background which can otherwise provide proper context to the story.

Neutral Reports

Neutral vs Slanted Reports



(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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