AM Radio News Media Coverage of the 2013 Senatorial and Party-list Elections: Radio was focused on personalities and controversies (March 19-April 12)

AS IN 2007 and 2010, CMFR reviewed the coverage by selected AM radio stations.

During the period monitored, a number of non-election issues edged out reporting on the elections. When radio did report the elections, coverage was hardly different from that of previous years, with many election-related reports focusing on controversies facing candidates that were personal in nature and which had nothing to do with their platforms or advocacies.

There was no report on the party-list elections at all during the period reviewed.

Scope of the monitor

From March 19 to April 12, 2013 CMFR monitored three popular morning news and public affairs programs: One on One with Igan and Lala Roque (DZBB), Rated Korina (DZMM) and ISYU (DZRH).

Number of Reports

Out of the 321 reports from the three radio programs, only 45 (14.018%) were election-related. There were 15 (33.3%) such reports on the elections from March 19-26 and 30 (66.6%) from April 1-12.

These reports focused mainly on general election concerns, at 26 (57.77 percent) out of the 45. Most reports looked at developments in overseas absentee voting and problems concerning the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines. Some radio programs reported the traffic situation in those places where campaign rallies were held, as well as the survey rankings of senatorial candidates.

These were followed by reports and commentaries concerning the senatorial candidates with a total of 12 (26.6 percent). These reports were mostly about the platforms of senatorial candidates, a rumored debate between administration candidate Ana Theresia “Risa” Hontiveros-Baraquel and UNA’s Nancy Binay, as well as developments in the romantic life of re-electionist Senator Francis Escudero. Local election issues were in six reports (13.33 percent) in the programs monitored (particularly the heated exchange between Manila mayor and reelectionist Alfredo Lim and former President and mayoralty candidate Joseph Estrada.

There were only two reports (4.44 percent) on the congressional (lower house) elections. Meanwhile, there was no report in the three programs on the party-list elections or related issues.

Noticeable during the two weeks of monitoring was the relatively small number of election-related reports despite the election season.  Such events as the tiff between celebrity and presidential sister Kris Aquino and her former husband James Yap, the suicide case of a University of the Philippines Manila freshman student, the hostilities in Sabah between the members of the Royal Sultanate and Malaysian forces, the removal of the grounded US Navy Ship from Tubbataha Reef, the election and installation of the new Pope, and Lenten celebrations consumed much of the air time of the three programs monitored.

But One on One with Igan and Lala Roque aired the highest number of election- related reports with 19 (42.22 percent). It was followed closely by Isyu which had a total number of 15 (33.3 percent) and Rated Korina with 11 (24.4 percent).

Table 1: Total Number of Election-related Reports

 Table 1: Total Number of Election-related Reports

Isyu and One on One with Igan and Lala Roque usually aired two election-related reports a day but there were also instances when they had three or more reports. Rated Korina on the other hand had a consistent single-report record per date.

However, there were also dates when all three had no single election-related report as other non-election issues took precedence.

Table 2: Total Number of Radio Reports

Table 2: Total Number of Radio Reports

Table 3: Total Number or Radio Reports per program

Table 3: Total Number or Radio Reports per program

Most of the election-related reports were deemed important enough to be reported and discussed during the first half of the programs: 21 (46.6 percent) out of 45. Four (8.8 percent) landed as the lead story of the day, 20 election-related reports (44.4 percent) were aired in the second half of the program.

Coverage of the senatorial candidates

Senatorial candidates and issues were reported 12 times (26.6 percent) out of the 45 total election-related reports and commentaries. On top of the issues concerning the senatorial candidates were Escudero’s relationship with actress Heart Evangelista and the couple’s dispute with Evangelista’s parents. Among all the senatorial candidates, Escudero was the most covered because of the controversy surrounding his personal life.

Rated Korina did not air any report on the senatorial elections.

Coverage of the of the party-list groups

There was no identified report or commentary on the party-list groups and elections. Neither was any person or issue related to those elections mentioned.

Coverage of elections in general

General concerns about the election received the highest number of reports and commentaries with a total of 26 (57.7 percent) out of the 45 election-related reports The source code and other PCOS machine-related issues, and the Commission on Elections’ level of preparedness, were the subjects of most of the reports.


Out of the 45 election-related reports, sixteen reports (35.5 percent) focused more on the conduct of the campaign. This included the campaign strategies and sorties by senatorial candidates and those running in the local elections.

In the local elections, the most covered were the Estrada and Lim campaign activities.

Themes related to the Commission of Elections were also in most of the reports.

Table 4: Themes

Table 4: Themes

There were slightly more reports that provided background compared with those that did not. Out of the 45 election-related reports, 23 (or 51.1 percent) provided adequate background. Meanwhile, there were 22 reports (or 48.8 percent) that did not provide essential background information to support their reports and commentaries.

The news reports with background were: In Rated Korina, nine (81.8 percent) out of 11 election related-reports; One with Igan and Lala Roque, eleven (57.89 percent) out of 19; and Isyu, three (20 percent) out of 15.

It was evident that most of the reports in Isyu had no adequate background to their stories. Their reports were also mostly single-sourced. The program had two interviews with senatorial candidates (Loren Legarda and Richard “Dick” Gordon) during which the questions came across as meant to portray them positively to program listeners.

Table 5: Background

Table 5: Background

Fairness and Balance

Out of the total 45 election-related reports, twenty reports (44.4 percent) were neutral. Eight (or 17.7 percent) were positively slanted for a candidate or a particular political party while 17 (37.77 percent) were negatively slanted.

Isyu showed an obvious bias in favor of President Benigno Aquino and the Liberal party in its reports and commentaries. One on One with Igan and Lala Roque and Rated Korina were more neutral in their reports, and there was no evident institutional bias against a particular candidate or party.  The identified biases in the two programs were due to the personal perspectives of the anchors who discussed election related issues in the commentary segments of the programs.

Table 6: Fairness and Balance

Table 6: Fairness and Balance

– by Angelica Belladonna C. Leonor and Siera Lou A. Mata