Politics

[#PHTV68/#100YOBPH] What If: Marcos’ Martial Law Wasn’t That Much Draconian to the Philippine TV Landscape?


[Requested by MJH but modified]

[AUTHOR’S NOTE: This post officially kicks off our year-long celebration of the 100th anniversary of broadcasting in the Philippines (#100YOBPH). This is an alternate history post similar to the one I wrote last December; if you have any additional thoughts, please leave a comment here or on our Discord server.]

WHEN I ASK you about Marcos’ Martial Law and the media, what comes to mind?

The military’s issuance of “cease and desist” orders. Raids and padlocks of media entities were deemed to be “enemies of the state.” Imposition of strict censorship on the rest. Their tape records before 1972 being burned and reused.

From 1972 to 1986, the Network from Bohol Avenue was seized and the frequency was given to his crony, Roberto Benedicto, in addition to KBS 9 and IBC 13. Don’t get us wrong, your parents and grandparents would remember watching those channels for Big Ike’s Happening… Now!, Champoy, Iskul Bukol and T.O.D.A.S.

During the Martial Law era, Channel 4 became a more successful government-owned and controlled television network, with a pro-sitting administration editorial slant that lives on today on their current tenant, PTV.

RBS 7 resumed broadcasting before the end of 1972, after the government granted permits, and was later renamed GMA; a public service program that debuted during that period continued to live on today.

ABC 5 didn’t return to the airwaves until 1992, but it was no longer under the previous management; MBC 11, on the other hand, never recovered the frequency.

Despite the end of the dictatorship, the legacy he left on the media industry lives on today, thanks to the formation of the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) in 1973 and the reorganization of the nation’s censorship board, the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB), in 1985.

But can anyone imagine if the Marcosian era didn’t intervene such harshly?

The following content in italics represents the historical facts or in the Real-Earth Timeline (RET); the rest are made in the Alternate Earth Timeline (AET). (more…)

QuOP No. 18: Mid-October Major Announcement


TWO WEEKS ago, I had my second COVID-19 vaccine in my hometown (City of San Fernando, Pampanga).

It was purely Sinopharm — yes, that vaccine brand that President Duterte, the Presidential Security Group (PSG) and Mon Tulfo have taken before others.

I was supposed to get Moderna but you know, the national government preferred non-cancelable deals with Chinese-made vaccines since the outgoing President continues to adulate on to China right from the very beginning of his administration.

At the start of this year, my sister asked me to sign a waiver about the specific brand and sent it back for confirmation. She works on a government-owned bank — a frontline worker — but her work is situated in Malolos, Bulacan. Thus, she has to commute (now drive) between two provinces with two different community quarantine statuses.

Throughout that waiting period, a few of her fellow employees have been tested positive for COVID but luckily, she’s tested negative after being tagged as a close contact. Knowing that she couldn’t take it long before she will be infected with COVID, she had no choice but to take the vaccine that’s available — Sinovac.

My parents, who are senior citizens, are inoculated with AstraZeneca last May and completed the second dose in July.

The pressure was on me after her first dose in mid-August; I was hesitant, but I had no choice because almost everyone in my nuclear family (except my special brother who shouldn’t go outside) has had at least one jab and is very close in socialization. My sister and I share one comorbidity: we both had asthma as children, so we are classified as A3 priority.

On September 2, I got my first shot at Heroes’ Hall of that particular, available brand of vaccine on my dominant arm (i.e. the left). I felt no fever as I took paracetamol right away and no other side effects happened except the pain in the injection area.

I returned to that facility as scheduled on September 29 for my second dose (this time on the right arm). Immediately after the completing shot, my blood pressure shot high: 150/60 but my dad or mom (who is a nurse) said that it would go back to its normal range in a short while.

FACE REVEAL?. Yes, that’s me in an “Among Us”-like face shield last September 29, 2021, after I got my second dose of Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine. The frame of my glasses was replaced after the completing shot.

As I went home from the vaccination center, my glasses slipped out as I bow deeply and the black plastic frame broke; my glasses were loose and I went to the optometrist downtown to replace them with a silver metal frame.

After two weeks of the second shot, most medical authorities would be classified as “fully protected” and I’m one of them but because of the brand, I’ll likely wait for another six months for a booster shot to avoid dominant variants like Delta.

Nevertheless, I was glad that I was one of at least 21 million Filipinos (at that time) who are fully protected against any severity from the original strain of COVID-19.

Please, dear Turfers, #GetVaccinated.

OK, enough with the personal side of history and public service announcements (PSAs), please jump in for the upcoming announcements.

(more…)

Your Favorite Music Radio station is heading to Mega Manila sooner than you think


FOR TWO of the committed posts this month, I have thought about two themes: seizing the opportunity and expanding horizons. 

First, the seizing the opportunity: whenever adversity strikes (whether it be a global pandemic or a fall of a prominent major player), they dust themselves off, be resourceful and go up the ante.

The second, expanding horizons: While many are climbing up from troubles, few try to go further than their former prominent holders; they are not supposed to rest on their laurels.

On this first of two distinct posts, we’re not going to tackle one of the present nationwide media conglomerates. We’re going to tackle the rising ones (which is not much recognized or not reached by at least three metropolitan areas in the country); I know I’ve done this last October but another player is grabbing the opportunity much faster among the rest that will stun some loyal radio listeners but some (including yours truly) will not found this one surprising.

In this post, we will tackle the prospects of this media entity called: Philippine Collective Media Corporation.

(more…)

[Pre-SONA Special] Can PTV really be editorially independent?


[Requested by MJH]

[AUTHOR’S NOTE: In the run-up to President Rodrigo Duterte’s final State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, we will tackle one of the legacies between him and the media. This blog post is dedicated to Howard Johnson, a BBC correspondent in our country and Jules Guiang, who is now in Rappler.]

PLANTITO-STYLED SONA. Last year, President Rodrigo Duterte personally delivered his penultimate (5th) State of the Nation Address in Batasang Pambansa with limited attendance to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

FINALLY, the last SONA of President Rodrigo Duterte is upon us. After this, there will be no more rants that come from his bruised ego heart, right? (SPOILER: Not quite, he has more every week after this.)

His valedictory SONA will be a verdict to judge his legacy but the people had already decided before that and they knew who will succeed him for next year’s election.

Before he will deliver his last annual speech to the 18th Congress this Monday afternoon inside Batasang Pambansa, I would like to share an excerpt of his maiden SONA on July 25, 2016 (with ad-libs):

To better manage public information, a law should be passed – I’m addressing Congress– to create the People’s Broadcasting Corporation, replacing PTV-4, [applause] the government-run TV station, which now aims to replicate international government broadcasting networks.  Teams from these international news agencies — I’d like to mention those interested BBC — are set to visit the country soon to train people from government-run channels to observe. Ito ang gusto ko — tutal pera naman ng tao — to observe editorial independence through innovative programs [applause] and intelligent treatment and analysis of news reports, as well as developments of national and international significance.

The government’s Bureau of Broadcast Services, better known as the Radyo ng Bayan,  shall undergo upgrading to make it financially viable and dependable for accurate and independent, and enlightening news and commentary. Radyo ng Bayan will be integrated with the PBC.

As we are presently setting up a Presidential Communications Satellite Office in Davao City, PBC will also put up broadcast hubs in the Visayas and Mindanao. [applause] Davao City will also be the first site of the first Muslim channel, to be called Salaam Television, [applause] and the first Lumad channel. [applause]

Pres. Rodrigo Roa Duterte (July 25, 2016)

Well, he fulfilled about the Salaam TV which took off a year later as the People’s Television Network (PTV) digital subchannel but the Lumad channel didn’t and became a TV program. He got the Mindanao Hub at his bailiwick in Davao City — which was opened last year — became fully operational since last March. (This is going to be used as a weapon for its remaining die-hard supporters in their interpretation of his legacy.)

Legislation regarding the People’s Broadcasting Corporation remains pending in Congress. By now, the chance to make it will be slim as the 3rd Regular Session of this current Congress will have the shortest number of session days on account to the filing and campaigning of politicians for May 9, 2022.

But look at a specific passage of text earlier, what does editorial independence mean? Did they ever try to uphold it?

(more…)

Timow’s Turf Midyear Report 2021


[Updated October 22, 2021]

ONE YEAR AGO today, the House of Representatives triggered a mercy shot on Mother Ignacia, completing the President’s premeditated plot that was four years in the making. The repercussions triggered around the national TV industry amidst the global pandemic. 

For GMA Network, it’s given them inevitable crowning glory and a free pass.

For TV5, it triggered the execution of the revival of local entertainment after four years.

For CNN Philippines, it signaled a pivotal moment for aiming for serious, in-depth news and current affairs.

For the state-owned and controlled media entities (PTV and IBC), an urge to change their paradigms and compete with them. 

But did it work out well?

We are now past the midpoint of 2021 — the first full year without the trailblazer, a time to restore from the effects of the pandemic and a resolution to adapt to better normal and reformation of their respective image. 

For the TV industry, is there life after Mother Ignacia? If so, how would we rate them?

(more…)

The Turf’s Thoughts on ex-P-Noy’s Passing


Rest well, statesman.

AS YOU HAVE heard and confirmed from this morning, former President Benigno S. Aquino III has passed away; he was 61.

By now, this heartbreaking news has triggered a turning point — mostly, turning to a feeling of nostalgia — in dealing with the final year of his successor and what to do come May 9, 2022 (less than 11 months from now).

And I know, some of you remained indoctrinated to negate and disown him with all your hearts, minds and souls through the news feeds. You probably have demonized him by emphasizing his negative engagement during his tenure from the bus hostage in Manila to Mamasapano.

Let’s set straight about him amidst all of this. 

Former President Noynoy Aquino continued to enhance the growth of our economy after the Great Recession and put the Philippines brightly on the map as he persistently believed.

Noynoy may not have been a good legislator but as President, he signed significant, consequential pieces of legislation such as Reproductive Health Law, K-12 and the Cybercrime Prevention Act. He even signed a sin tax that imposed a levy on vices like his — cigarettes; which served as a precursor and model to other tax laws (like TRAIN and CREATE) now in force. He made a better peace process in Mindanao by replacing ARMM with the Bangsamoro Basic Law (now Bangsamoro Organic Law); he could’ve done it ahead of time had it not been for Mamasapano. He would have pushed the Freedom of Information Act — for fair and reasonable transparency in dealings with the government — but it always left out on every SONA he delivered. 

Speaking of SONA, his use of graphics — made by his social media team under his chief, Manuel L. Quezon III — was professional and awesome to behold. The Official Gazette on Facebook wouldn’t be the same without his team. 

Many of you have remarked on him for immaturity — primarily due to finger-pointing his predecessor for the faults that he had inherited. Unlike the ruling incumbent, he knew how to behave with other heads of states and governments and earned much respect from the international community. If you want proof, look at the time when we hosted APEC Summit on his final full calendar year (2015).

It was he who established the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases in 2014. It was intended to monitor and prevent, at that time, Ebola and MERS-CoV from entering our shores; it was successful and more respectable than the present composition and their current handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lastly, if any positive attribution can we agree about him on, it’s about dealing the sovereignty in our territorial waters against a hegemonic, trying-hard superpower. He sent the claims to an international court and we won. The lesson from that is we must uphold it and go beyond.

During his six years, our news coverage was not as tumultuous as we have now. His spokespersons didn’t gaslight or spin every day so that Joseph Morong wouldn’t have a problem crunching bullet points with it. Given the environs of this blog, the national television industry under his watch was very peaceful: less intervention, no major player shutdown (that he didn’t like) and manageable dealing of chaos within and without the walls of the networks.

If you’re not convinced of what I’ve written, you would probably admit this: Your political worldviews and principles — no matter where you’re with him or against him back then — would not be formed and probably solidified without him.

Here at Timow’s Turf, I joined with the rest of the Filipino people in expressing sincere condolences to the Aquino family in these times.

Crossing the Bridge of No Return, One Year After


(NOTE: This post serves as Quarterly Open Pit No. 16. Consider this as my candid confession post; it’s hard to hold your silence but this has to be done.)

The Bridge of No Return crosses the Military Demarcation Line (MDL) between North Korea and South Korea. The name comes from the final ultimatum that was given to prisoners of war brought to the bridge for repatriation. Once they crossed the bridge, they will never go back, even if they later changed their minds.

FIFTY-TWO TUESDAYS AGO, the Philippine media industry has inevitably crossed the metaphorical bridge of no return amidst the new normal. The landscape of television has shifted forever and many of us — including yours truly — will be remembered and be traumatized.

While some audacious politicians say they’re not affected by that. It truly did. It affected not just the mental health of both those who are laid off and those who remained with more heavier workload. It also affected the job prospects (not just for Mass Communication graduates but also for Electronic Communications Engineering) and felt the chilling effect of government agencies like the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) when it comes the overall progress of digital terrestrial television (DTT) transition and the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) on their revenue stream.

While some enforce callously for closure and healing (babang luksa) tomorrow after a year, its wounds are still fresh in their inerasable memories.

While the sore winners say it’s “no big deal,” it unfolded to be a consequential move, especially in the far-flung areas.

Since the start of this year (2021), I cannot utter the name of the former TV network or its corresponding nickname anymore — and I euphemized them —  because saying its name is a “mortal sin.” Not to mention, I glaringly omitted their programs and/or described them indirectly. (Reminder: I didn’t include their teleseryes because it’s not our policy, enforced before 2020, to tackle upcoming and ending teleseryes in detail.)

I have imposed a “Give Chance to Others” Policy; the answer of why I’ve done that will be tackled after.

Come tomorrow, they’ll celebrate this as the “Day of Thanksgiving” with prideful taunts on the other side while ignoring their errors. In this post, I’ll tackle two invectives you probably hear from them and how I appropriated them with the current progress.

(more…)

Simulcast Frenzy: When Does This Good Thing Go Bad?


[Requested by MJH]

AT THIS SPECIFIC TIME in the pre-pandemic era, you’re about to finish work for the day. As you would drove along a thoroughfare that is well-known for heavy traffic in the evening rush hour, your favorite newscast on TV will start in a few minutes but in a swift moment, you tuned your car radio to their corresponding frequency.

The aforementioned situation described above is the broadcast practice of simulcasting. Simulcasting is the broadcasting of programs across more than one medium or more than one service on the same medium.

Simulcasts can happen within sister channels just like the Six-Lettered Network back then with their UAAP Finals or MPBL Finals on weekend in place of a filler movie block.

Events that are covered to most media platforms are also part of the broad definition of simulcast; one of the best examples of that is the President delivering the State of the Nation Address to Congress every July.

This broadcasting practice is normal but sometimes, like in all things, it can go too far and pretty harmful — especially if you have the virtual sole control in the TV industry. Let’s examine the current case of GMA Network after the jump.

(more…)

Preparing MPBL in the New Arrangement


IT’S COMING BACK. Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League is resuming play today to determine the national champions but there are no TV broadcasts.

ON WEDNESDAY, Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) will resume where it left off; this time, they’ll play the remainder of the playoffs in the Subic bubble — the same location as the Philippine Super Liga where their season-opening Volleyball Challenge Cup spiked off. Unfortunately, this amateur league has no broadcaster to cover as the original home lost its license.

For those who are lying under the rock about what MPBL is and what is happening about it, jump for a little refresher.

Later, we will tackle how to solve a problem before their new season tips off in June and if they sealed a new home.

(more…)

Allowing Foreign Ownership or Direct Investments in the Philippine Media


[Requested by MJH]

LORDING THE HOUSE. House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco is spearheading a radical plan of action for the recovery in COVID-19 and people are still getting skeptical about this.

EARLIER THIS MONTH, House Speaker Lord Allan Jay Velasco made a pronouncement on amending our Constitution as a path to recovery from the pandemic as Moody’s Analytics feared that our country will be dead last in bouncing back among Asia-Pacific nations. Currently, they are tackled at their Committee on Constitutional Amendments with a problem on which mode they’ll use.

Whenever people think of constitutional reform or in lesser syllables, Charter Change, they are automatically associated with “term extension” for incumbent politicians who do not much represent or do not earn the trust of the public.

However, the third person in the Presidential line of succession specified that the economic provisions (a.k.a. the 60-40 rule) will be amended. The intention to place such an amendment will be put to a public vote next year, alongside the Presidential election.

It may sound radical to you, dear readers, but not for those associated with constitutional reform advocacy groups. Allowing foreign direct investments of all industries (including mass media) is a stepping stone to bounce back our economy from the impacts of the pandemic (e.g. closures of small and non-essential businesses and repatriation of OFWs).

So how does this idea apply to our sphere of mass media?

Quick PH Media History Lesson

The South Triangle Duopoly was founded initially as radio stations in Manila and were operated by American citizens. This is due to the Parity Rights approved in 1947. When President Ferdinand Marcos got his 1973 Constitution ratified (with more protectionism clauses, including mass media) and let the Parity Rights expire the year after. From that point onward, this is where Felipe Gozon and the gang stepped in to get Channel 7 from Robert “Uncle Bob” Stewart (even though the founder stayed in the country until a decade after) and the unforgettable brand of Marcosian cronyism began.

To this day, the present (1987) Charter continues the prohibition of any foreigner or foreigner to own any percentage of ownership in mass media as stated under Article XVI, Sec. 11 (1):

The ownership and management of mass media shall be limited to citizens of the Philippines, or to corporations, cooperatives or associations, wholly-owned and managed by such citizens.

(The) Congress shall regulate or prohibit monopolies in commercial mass media when the public interest so requires. No combinations in restraint of trade or unfair competition therein shall be allowed.

This provision was invoked by GMA Network’s lawyers against TV5 in 2008, which soon resulted in Channel 5’s partnership with MPB Primedia to cease and handed over to the present reins of Manny V. Pangilinan’s MediaQuest.

At the tail-end of the preceding decade, President Rodrigo Duterte accused Rappler of the allegations of being not owned by Filipinos, which a year later lost its registration with the Securities and Exchanges Commission (SEC) for issuing Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDRs). The same accusation is thrown against the Six-Letter Media Giant by Congress last year that put their lease in life as a TV broadcaster to its consequential fate.

In this living zeitgeist of the challenged yet the globalized economy, they say, Nadine Lustre-style, that it’s “2021 na, not 19-copung-copung.” For Velasco’s case, they’ll append the wordings “unless provided by law” but constitutional reform advocates (even the most hardcore ones) wanted those provisions deleted altogether.

Removing the barriers of entry doesn’t mean a sudden — albeit, gradually — the hegemonic takeover of the nearest rising superpower than the traditional one but as an encouragement to challenge head-to-head competition between their firms and ours and a means to diversify our portfolio and sources of funding. (For a start, we can make amends with Southeast Asian neighbors.)

 

What Would Happen in Our Media?

Tackling the pros and cons of lifting economic barriers in all industries is cumbersome but we can tackle it in one specific industry: the media industry. How will this result?

First of all, we cannot undo the specifics that they agree upon. For one, we already adopted the digital TV standard, the ISDB-T from Japan, but it significant deficiencies. Like in the Land of the Rising Sun, we are in the Pacific Ring of Fire wherein earthquakes are prone in the world. In the originating country, they already made the technology of the Early Earthquake Warning System but we didn’t due to misunderstanding with involved stakeholders (e.g. PHIVOLCS, NTC and digital TV receiver manufacturers). Nevertheless, if any of their expertise stationed here, then we could have set a clear policy for the whole Emergency Warning Broadcast System (EWBS).

Operations-wise, liberalizing the economy could mean easier content distribution. For an anime fan, they want the latest anime to reach our shores (legally) as soon as possible.

The Networks’ Response

  • Had that Six-Letter Broadcaster continued with the lease of their life in the free airwaves, they would procure high-tech cameras and their transmission equipment would’ve gone into an astounding 4K UHD quality by now and everyone else would follow. *sigh*
  • GMA’s endless promotion of Voltes V: Legacy will finally be materialized when representatives of Toei Company get the checking and supervision in-site.
  • TV5, the network that aired last year’s Asian Television Awards, will probably take some cues and best practices from their continental neighbors.
  • For CNN Philippines, they will have an easier link with the headquarters in Atlanta and other worldwide bureaus.
  • PTV will easily make partnerships with public broadcasters around the world. (Good luck getting the audience though.)

On OTT

 

Perhaps, the best case for raising economic liberalization is due to this news. In 30 days, Disney+ will enter Southeast Asian territory, specifically in Singapore and soon in their neighbor, Malaysia. And here at home, we all just wonder why and drool with jealousy and envy.

 

Conclusion

The mistakes of 2020, including the after-effects of the pandemic, will continue to persist this year and beyond if we don’t get a course of action and this is just one of them.

Of course, removing protectionist provisions doesn’t mean we have to go with the status quo as the reformists persistently believed. Pitching to make our country business-friendly is not a simple walk in the park if the leaders and representatives do not behave well, especially with the incumbent leadership. (No wonder, they wanted a shift to a parliamentary form of governance but that would be a story for another time.)


What do you think? Is it the best time to lift the restrictive economic provisions?


Like Timow’s Turf on Facebook

Join our Discord public server for more announcements and thoughts!

Photos courtesy of House of Representatives of the Philippines and Walt Disney Company