Harry Roque

[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…)

Pilipinas, Are You Not Overentertained (and Underinformed)?


[Requested by Gian Paolo Dela Cruz]

ABS-CBN News Chief Ging Reyes made an admission in her employer that their offerings made its audience “overentertained and underinformed” on a virtual forum last October 23.

OVER A MONTH AGO, — October 23, to be exact — ABS-CBN News Chief Ging Reyes admitted during a virtual forum where the audience is “overentertained and underinformed” and the employer was felt “guilty” for that.

Opinions on her divulgence are very sharp as knives.

Serial haters would admonish her and her employer hardly and eat their humble pie after the media giant “rightfully deserved” to lose their free-to-air broadcast license a bit more than half a year ago.

Others had different yet valid views on their different aspects like the association of language and straightforwardness and the structure of segments (showbiz segments before every commercial break and light news item to wrap up the hard news).

Others wanted to go escapism — simply put, staying away from newscasts (even before the pandemic) — as they are fed up with the “he said/she said” type of journalism that surviving media entities espoused under the reign of populist demagoguery with spokespersons making possible spins and excuses to cover up possible harm. In other words, they are tired of gaslighting.

The way we consume the news is changing from newspapers to radio to TV to web and to mobile. All media entities have to capitalize on the use of modern technology to keep up with the times. In this era, you can tell which outlet it comes from, judging by their color schemes and fonts on their posts; the common ground on all outlets is that they emphasize the headline and the summary of the story (with the link appending). This is a common psychological argument.

Because of social media, screenshots of the trending list on Twitter were shared and so are the picturesque scenes with proper attribution.

Thanks to this medium, they are prone to disinformation. Thankfully, fact-checking outlets like Rappler and VERA Files worked hard to refute most false claims that are posted like wildfire. However, die-hard supporters don’t matter and it won’t stop posting praises for their political idols as if every act is always right in their eyes.

But things became different afterward…

Challenging the claims, a month after

One month after Ms. Reyes made that remark, significant events transpired.

Super Typhoon Rolly (November 1)

One week post-confession, Mother Nature gave a challenge. On All Saints’ Day, Supertyphoon Rolly (international name: Goni) battered Bicol and two provinces of Calabarzon (i.e. Quezon and Batangas).

While the common argument spewed by the incumbent administration supporters that “there are other media entities,” they failed to include the factor of two R’s — reach and reputation.

In terms of reach, not everyone — even in far-flung areas like Catanduanes — has cable or satellite. Internet connectivity from the telco towers is severely affected. The AM/FM radio is accessible but it does not get the full picture; television depicts how deadly the storm is and how the damage on the trail is conveyed that cannot be expressed in words.

Assuming that all networks had the same reach as ABS was, the reputation come into play:

  • GMA is, therefore, next in line and people expected better. Alas, that was not the case. Their News TV didn’t cover the swathe of destruction throughout that Sunday as, after airing the press briefing, they aired an anime block, a Lakorn and a Christmas movie (in that order), let alone covering hourly updates. Let’s face it, the channel’s daytime simulcast of DZBB from mid-March — when the lockdown began — until September was their best feat. The funny thing is that their Affordabox has an emergency warning broadcast system (EWBS) feature.
  • TV5 was committed with Brightlight Production programs on that day but they have their news advisory in the free-to-air platform but One News PH, which is exclusive on Cignal, delegated most of the coverage. *verification needed*
  • PTV — despite being the “best” media entity, according to fanatics — did not really do well; they waited until 10:00 a.m. for the NDRRMC press conference. During that coverage, Albay Governor Al Francis Bichara said that the typhoon has just passed from the province. People wouldn’t watch that, aside from the most obvious hint that the network’s news items are always defensive of the sitting administration (either through Spokesperson Harry Roque or Senator Bong Go on the Laging Handa Public Briefing).
  • CNN Philippines would have done a better job had it not for being preoccupied with the recently contested US presidential election. The public under class C and below would not understand because the majority of their newscasts are delivered mostly in English and the network is straightforward and deemed intelligent.

Typhoon Ulysses (mid-November)

Two weeks after Rolly, Typhoon Ulysses (Vamco) battered Luzon once again and this time, the denuded terrains of Sierra Madre (the natural typhoon barrier) splurged brown floodwaters and as a result of evaporation, mud, over Marikina City, Quezon province and — at worst — Cagayan Valley. GMA covered it right this time over the wrath and damage.

In an interview with ANC the following Monday, Isabela governor Rodito Albano III bemoaned the absence of ABS-CBN’s news crew. Christian Esguerra, the anchor, lectured out that his brother (Antonio) was involved — with four other congressmen in the province — in killing the franchise renewal bid last July 10 that consequentially killed the whole Regional Network Group on August 31.

When Vice President Leni Robredo showed up and requested AFP for rescue, President Duterte didn’t show up as he was busy with the virtual international summits via video conferencing.

Days after the loud trend of #NasaanAngPangulo, he spouted pettiness in his weekly address to the nation. Going too far, netizens are enforcing the lessons learned from the U.S. presidential election, to step up the game.

An opinion piece from a guest has posted on Rappler last Monday, giving a hint on what media should do when the President consistently lies. This was written in light of the defeat of incumbent U.S. President Donald Trump, who still denies and refuses to concede publicly to his opponent, President-Elect Joe Biden in the recent contest.

For one, few influential netizens easily accused GMA Network’s Palace correspondent Joseph Morong of being a mere transcriber sifting any trash before posting the summary than as a journalist with guts like his fellow, Atom Araullo (who ventured now in documentaries), has tweeted:

If one could put an American comparison, they want someone more of a Jake Tapper or a Jim Acosta over a Chanel Rion.

 

Back to the Question! (Conclusion)

With these challenges transpired and finally manifested by the cases and arguments from different faces of the dice (instead of a coin as it has just two), are we overentertained and underinformed?

We cannot make a judgment; we all understand what has happened. Like what Anime Kabayan (a.k.a.) Marlo Magtibay said ahead of us, the answer is now up to your discernment.


 

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Photo courtesy of N3Con.com

The Turf’s Insight on Pyeongchang Winter Olympics


After 30 years, South Korea is hosting another Olympics but this time on the other season.

THREE DAYS from now, the sporting eyes of the world will fixate on South Korea for the 16 days of glory in the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

While it may not be in the Filipino sporting aficionados’ attention due to the geographic consideration as a tropical country, it is a noteworthy moment for two athletes that will partake and will banner under the Three Stars and a Sun.

THE ROOKIE AND THE VET. Asa Miller (left) will participate in the Winter Olympics as the alpine skier while Michael Christian Martinez (right) will be given another chance to shine in figure skating.

Asa Miller, the 17-year-old rookie, despite his residence in Oregon, will be the first alpine skier to compete for the Philippines in 26 years. Meanwhile, 21-year-old skater Michael Christian Martinez, despite failing to make the qualifying cut on the CS Nebelhorn Trophy, finally gets another chance to shine after Sweden relinquished the spot due to the unsatisfied performance level of Alexander Majorov by their national Olympic Committee.

In addition, this edition of the Winter Games will make the debut of two Southeast Asian nations: Malaysia (with alpine skier Jeffrey Webb and figure skater Julian Yee) and Singapore (with short track speed skater Cheyenne Goh).

Promotion Bluff

Last January, the promotion of the Winter Games was aired over ABS-CBN, presuming that their sports channel, S+A, would cover the games for the first time. However, the speculation bubble was popped out as TV5 – for the fourth overall, second in the concerned season and the first time under the ESPN5 brand — is confirmed to cover  exclusively, according to SportsCenter Philippines.

Conflict in ceremonies, clear in competition

With the confirmed news, both ceremonies that begin and end the Games will face conflict on the main channel and might be consequently covered live on AksyonTV.

The opening ceremony on Friday, February 9, will begin at the same time (7:00 p.m. Philippine time) with the traditional PBA evening game – in this case, NLEX Road Warriors vs Meralco Bolts. The closing ceremony on February 25 will coincide with FIBA Asia World Cup Qualifier game against Japan in our home court.

That said, it wouldn’t be surprising as TV5 will favor both games of hoops over both showcases of the artistry of the international multi-sport event.

Competition journey

On the bright side, when it comes to the competition proper for our contingents, there is no problem in live coverage, in terms with TV5, as they will take place in the morning – as we are one hour behind South Korea. Provided, they will delay the NCAA (U.S.) basketball.

Miller’s debut will take shape from this Sunday (February 11) until February 22 if his first-time performance is exceptional.

On the other hand, Martinez’s two-day competition will kick in on February 16 – fortunately, both holidays on both nations (Lunar New Year or “Seollal” in Korea) — with the short program and followed by the free skate.

Unfazed by unavoidable

While one or few said that TV5’s return to cover the Olympics is where they rightfully belong, not everyone is convinced.

For them, it could be a repeat of what happened back to Rio in 2016 where they fail to commit full-blown coverage despite the live streaming on the network’s YouTube channels.

To be honest, ABS-CBN (through S+A) would have been a bit worse in cover the Winter Games since they are preoccupied with NBA, UAAP and NCAA volleyball tournaments, English (Premier) and Spanish (La Liga) football and the inaugural Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL). It’s new cable-exclusive sports channel, Liga, wouldn’t apply as they don’t have football or basketball in the competition.

On the other hand, PTV would be the worst if they cover their first Winter Olympics; both ceremonies would cut any significant 20 minutes each due to Lotto and the competition proper could be disrupted by Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque’s daily press conference and by President Rodrigo Duterte himself.

Anyway, the Turf wishes both of our athletes the best in their respective journey in South Korea — amidst the lack of support from both the government and the Philippine Olympic Committee — and also to the rest of the athletes of the world.


Just a little throwback Tuesday…

 


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Photos courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, International Olympic Committee (IOC), KGW and Ilustrado Magazine

Timow’s Turf Zeitgeist 2017: The Petmalu Events of Philippine Media (Part II)


For Part I, click here.

Another year has gone by but before it flips on to 2018, let’s look back on the colorful, unpredictable (or as we say, petmalu) events in Philippine media on Timow’s Turf Zeitgeist 2017.

For this year, the Zeitgeist will be similar to a Facebook news feed with like and five reactions that you might side on with the Turf‘s probable reasons.

Charting the New Horizons

On June 12, Billboard Philippines initially launched four charts after nine months of formation:

  • Philippine Hot 100 for local and international popular hits
  • Philippine Top 20 for local popular hits,
  • Catalog Chart for local popular hits lasting more than 3 years, and
  • K-Pop Top 5

Possible Reaction & Reason:

  • Love: Some music lovers saw the Charts as a form of knowing and motivating their local performers. Acting as the yardstick of fair airplay would also mean fewer biases from FM radio stations’ respective charts.

Breaking Silence

The closing year marked the tipping movement of sexual harassments calls from entertainment (from film producer Harvey Weinstein), on the news (Matt Lauer, NBC’s Today main presenter) and to politics (Roy Moore, the defeated candidate for US Senator in Alabama).

The Philippines has the similar case to this.

Jensen and the Flips’ frontman Jensen Gomez and guitarist Sam Valenia were were allegedly sexually harassing several women. In light of that claims, the band was dropped from several gigs.

The band was one of the featured artist of Coke Studio Philippines, the weekly music show on TV5. (YouTube clip of one of  their performances below)

Aside from Jensen and the Flips, some members of other indie acts MilesExperience (sometimes referred to as Msex) and SUD were also called out for the same reason.

Possible Reaction & Reason:

  • Angry: Either on bandwagon mode or not, violence against women is a serious issue in the light of uncouth and crass global leadership. (Ahem.)
  • Haha: For anti-feminists and pro-patriarchy apologists, it’s gone too far and asks them to go home and make a sandwich.
  • Sad: To sum up, “Where did we go so low?

One Sound, One Blow

JAM 88.3, WAVE 89.1, MAGIC 89.9, 99.5 PLAYFM AND 103.5 KLITE joined forces five times this year from June 30 to November 17 for #OneSoundPH to promote OPM.

Possible Reactions & Reasons:

  • Love: The advocacy behind #OneSoundPH aspires more on unity than on division.
  • Wow: One can say that it marks the beginning of temporary resistance to tribalism in radio industry.

PH Wants Their (Own) MTV

Coinciding the 36th anniversary of MTV in America, this sixth incarnation (MTVph) is a collaboration of Viacom and Solar Entertainment.

Possible Reactions & Reasons:

  • Love: For music lovers, obviously, and those who love to tune in their reality shows.
  • Haha: Too bad, there’s no worried reaction but if they have one, it’s because of the survivability of this incarnation amidst YouTube and audio streaming services (e.g. Spotify).

Atom Araullo Goes Over the Bakod

On September 15, Atom Araullo announced his departure from ABS-CBN on Umagang Kay Ganda. A few hours, DZBB hinted his return, which was realized the week after.

When this news broke out, they are questioning the network if there is a non-compete clause in his contract. In contract law, a non-compete clause is which one party (an employee) agrees not to enter into a similar profession in competition against another party (the employer).

Despite this, his departure was done voluntarily and amicably. His first documentary in his new home in Kamuning was “The Philippine Seas” aired last November 5; as a result, he joins I-Witness.

Possible Reactions & Reasons:

  • Wow: Alternative for shocked, of course, this announcement initially stunned the Big Two’s base.
  • Sad: Of course, solid Kapamilya fans were shocked to see him go from the institution for 15 years.
  • Love: For Kapuso diehards, this marks the reunion since his inaugural presence on 5 And Up that shaped up the career in journalism.

Choosing Courage? More like Choosing Destiny via Carelessness

TV5 went on a sporadic mode throughout 2017 under the short-lived “Choose Courage” campaign by its ambitious head-cum-coach Chot Reyes.

AniMEGA came back after the full year hiatus but their flow of programming is completely disrupted as with dubbed US TV series and few third-party produced local entertainment programs (Brillante Mendoza Presents, Lakbai, Coke Studio Philippines and the Philippines Next Top Model: High Street) due to the hard time to say “no” to sports.

In the News & Public Affairs Department, they tried Turning Point and Manindigan but didn’t last for the same reason, along with the department’s constant inattention. Not to mention, the scuffle between Ed Lingao and the two Tulfo brothers last June worsened the damage despite reinstatement of the Word of the Lourd segment.

The network’s tipping point happened on October 12, while the National Football League’s regular season were put into play for the first time, TV5 signed the deal with ESPN for more sporting content.

Possible Reactions & Reasons:

  • Wow or Love. For sports aficionados, ESPN5’s prospective new offers (such as NCAA U.S.) are worth something to look forward.
  • Angry. The non-sporting sectors are not happy with their deal due to the slated sporadic non-sports programming. Not to mention, undelivered offers were washed out (e.g. Brillante Mendoza’s Amo, Travel 360 & Bloggers TV).
  • Haha. Critics are unsurprised because TV5’s destiny is consummated. Some of them called out this permanent deal as a waste of money. (Bigyan ng Worst TV Network of the Year Award yan!)
  • Sad. Realistic pessimists knew what has happened — TV5 is deemed beyond repair. Aksyon sa Umaga, despite winning a Catholic Mass Media Award, was cancelled in order to accommodate live and/or delayed coverages of other sports due to time zone difference. On the other hand, Aksyon Tonite’s running time was slashed in half.

Fulfilling Their Promises, Going Even Further

CNN Philippines fulfilled all their titled promises for this year from their trade launch last December 2016 – namely, Political Insider, Hoop Nation, My Philippines, Trippies and Harvest.

Yet, they have done more than just that.

Throughout the year, they expanded newscasts on weekday midmornings (as Newsroom Ngayon) with Ruth Cabal and weekends at lunchtime – born out of circumstances (e.g. Marawi standoff) — with Mai Rodriguez, together with Sports Desk and revitalized the early evening weekday newscast with News Night.

  • Love or Wow. For media newsers, CNN Philippines fulfilled everything than the Big 3 that just keeps on breaking. (Bigyan ng Best TV Network Award ‘yan! May nanalo na!)
  • Haha. Gilbert Remulla engaged a Twitter war from netizens and then, his show was axed. (Karma is not a liar; she keeps receipts.)

The Honorable, Dishonorable, Mixed & Sad Mentions

Honorable Mentions

  • TV Patrol turned 30 and its public service caravan.
  • CBS’ Madam Secretary punched the fictional Philippine president in the face.
  • Voltes V and Daimos’ released its new dubs on GMA.
  • RX 93.1 dethroned Love Radio 90.7 in KBP Golden Dove Awards.
  • Star Movies and Star World were replaced with Fox Movies and Fox Life in June and October respectively.

Dishonorable Mentions

  • Miguel Belmonte. The Radyo5 head neglected his duties to reform 92.3 News FM due to his commitments on The Philippine Star.
  • Harry Roque. The human rights lawyer turned into the compromised Presidential mouthpiece.
  • Mocha Uson. No need to explain as her acts caught on camera and on social media speaks for itself.

Mixed Mentions

  • CNN Philippines’ personalities. They come (Ruth Cabal), go (Nicolette Henson and Mico Halili) and come back (Menchu Macapagal).
  • James Deakin. The CNN Philippines’ motoring hero who braved the senators in the hearing of granting emergency powers on traffic last August had some kryptonite. According to an observer in PHTV Group, his show, The Service Road, does not mention NLEX, SCTEX or SLEX due to indirect influence of the dominant advertiser San Miguel Corporation on the network.
  • Xander Ford. Many considered him the Jake Paul of the Philippines, although much older and experienced. His name will forever be remembered as the epitome of our non-political sensationalism this year.
  • CBCP’s radio & television franchise expiration. The House of Representatives did not act upon the renewal of franchise for the CBCP due to the clashing standoff with President Duterte. While Radyo Veritas remains unaffected due to extension signed by predecessor Aquino, the expired franchise (since August 7) did not affect their online radio operation. This move is feared to be the prelude for ABS-CBN come 2020.
  • Martin Andanar. He may be a visionary in broadcasting reform but his political quips and antics within his office (e.g. blunders in the Philippines News Agency) are not amused.
  • Aljur Abrenica. After years of limbo with GMA, he jumped ship to ABS-CBN.
  • Lloyd Cadena. The YouTube celebrity turned DJ of Love Radio 90.7 replacing Papa Jack.

Sad Mentions (those who passed away)

  • Nikka Cleofe-Alejar (one of PTV anchors) — last July due to wasp sting.
  • Amelyn Veloso (the swooning CNN Philippines mainstay) — last August due to liver metastasis.
  • Hashtags member Franco Hernandez drowned in Davao Occidental last November.
  • Isabel Granada
  • Direk Soxie Topacio

A(n e)motion of thanks

That being said, 2017 was a year of predicaments in the media industry. Other specific events are not mentioned because the Turf focuses beyond entertainment (try visiting From the Tube) as politics are lessened due to assumption that everyone knows what just happened. Other specialized colleagues, such as Media Newser Philippines will have to wait until middle to late January for their consensual judgment of who are the winners and losers in the news industry of the imminently closing year.

Whatever comes in 2018, Timow’s Turf will still document the happenings and continue to share the insights.

Aside from the usual supportive patrons, we would also like to thank the following people that debuted and made 2017, specifically, Paul Justin Baloloy of Chakuy Productions, Jojo Bailon of View on the 3rd and Kevin L. Estrada.

 Until then, have a pristine and serene New Year.