Sen. Bong Go

[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…)

The Hindsight That Was 2020: How the Surviving TV Networks Fared? (Part II)


[NOTE: If you haven’t read the first part of our year-ender, click HERE before proceeding.]

“If I knew back then what I know now. / If I understood the what, when, why and how. / Now it’s clear to me. What I should have done. / But hindsight is 20/20 vision.”

~George Benson, “20/20” (1985)

THE FIRST year of the New Decade is ending. When we began, this is a year that we expected a “perfect vision” or a show of ambition and surprises. However, we did not foresee an outbreak encroaching the world.

The COVID-19 pandemic puts a halt to the production of those things we looked forward to and puts precarious precautions on the essentials. Coupling with the premeditated fall of a prominent media giant, the surviving competitors fought rapaciously over broadcasting rights much worse than we initially thought or regained and repurposed.

In this two-part of the year-ender, how did the remaining TV networks respond? (NOTE: Let’s just pretend that ABS-CBN and the ZOE deal that forms A2Z are no longer relevant to discussions anymore because, well… you voted for it, you asked for it.)

In the second part, we will tackle the minor networks that garnered significant differences this year.


IBC 13

The real antipode to the fallen media giant regained prominence but not similar to its former glory nearly half a century ago. Instead, the neglected and utterly forgotten state-sequestered TV network was repurposed into a distance learning channel through DepEd TV from Monday to Saturday daytime. The biggest sacrifice, other than ending EZ Shop, is they have to pull the plug on El Shaddai after 28 years and the plan of SMAC Television Production’s Gen Z-hosted and performed noontime show.

In August, the worker’s union claim of perennial mismanagement was at a bad timing as it was eclipsed by the PhilHealth money heist. First, the reported amount of unpaid benefits since 2008 was P 278 million but that was just peanuts compared to PhilHealth’s P 15 billion. Second, PhilHealth’s theft has a much indirect effect on workers; public and private workers around the country are affected since we indirectly pay their premium contributions from our paychecks (they’re mandatory). Third, PhilHealth matters because of universal health coverage that any member would come to their aid when they get sick (especially with the lingering pandemic) as IBC is supposed to convey delivery of education and information.

While their broadcast franchise doesn’t expire until 2025, privatization is the obvious solution to end the myriad of problems but considering the current situation, the initiative couldn’t push anytime soon or worse, it won’t pursue anymore if DepEd TV becomes a permanent staple (which, in fairness, is a much better use of airtime than showing replays of government propaganda shows and home shopping but we’re in doubt over their financial standing).

PTV

The pandemic has introduced the daily Laging Handa public briefing since mid-March but it veered away from its intention from being an information handler when it comes to the virus into a front act for Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go.

One personality was no longer seen this year: Jules Guiang. The only dissenter in the roster of talents spilled his outspokenness on Twitter by comparing the labor issues of his employer and the fallen media giant which led to his consequential exit that exposed the true colors of Vasra’s broadcast and internal company culture.

During the budget hearing for the Presidential Communication Operations Office (PCOO) in the House of Representatives last September 10 (the same day the National Telecommunications Commission revoked the frequencies of ABS-CBN after an absence of a valid franchise), Secretary Martin Andanar wanted to compete with commercial broadcasters. Why now? Whatever happened to the fully-fledged public broadcaster promised in President Duterte’s maiden SONA four years ago?

Last December 5, PCOO inaugurated the Mindanao Media Hub in the President’s bailiwick in Davao City.

By this time, they are planning to air a noontime show with a working title, Good Laughternoon. The hosts are mostly from participants of Miss World Philippines and comedians who were formerly employed by Allan K’s two closed comedy bars (Klownz and Zirkoh).

CNN Philippines

This channel is barely changing operations-wise, other than the focus on the pandemic coverage and the entry of Rico Hizon. Twice the channel went off the air because of the presence of COVID-positive employees in their HQ in Shaw Boulevard, Mandaluyong and thus, they have to be disinfected.

During the U.S. presidential debates season, they are very interrupted due to daily issues here at home like the Speakership show and red-tagging personalities.

At the moment, no room for improvements has been recommended or formulated — even though they have slight drift (i.e. cartoons from Cartoon Network) from living up to its name for pure news and public affairs.

NET 25

Another prominent TV network that gained attention this year is this UHF TV network near Templo Central in Commonwealth.

During the dual period, they aired a talent show (Tagisan ng Galing) and a noontime show (Happy Time), starring Anjo Yllana, Janno Gibbs and Kitkat. Robin Padilla has two projects from this channel — Unlad: Kaagapay sa Hanapbuhay (an informative program) and Kesayasaya (a musical sitcom).

Two instances are arising from the fallout of Mother Ignacia: the entry of Vic De Leon Lima in their flagship newscast Mata ng Agila; and few versatile talents starring on their first teleserye Ang Daigdig Ko’y Ikaw.

Two prominent beauties came to this network: Emma Mary Tiglao joined the early evening newscast while PBA courtside reporter Apple David became one of the presenters of the breakfast show Pambansang Almusal.

Net25 has promising program offerings this year — even the contemptuous due to obvious religious alignment — but not everyone can reach this network. Despite being the pioneer network in our country’s digital terrestrial TV, they are barely accessible on the free and digital airwaves.

You have to rely on cable (depending on where you live) and on social media with a dependable internet connection.

ETC

For 2020, Solar Entertainment is eating their humble pies after losing the carriage disputes of NBA and the ambitious Easy TV offerings since last year. This year, ETC continued such feasting. This channel’s offering was intentionally targeted for feminine and young adult demographics; this year, it into a significant channel drift by adding an old Filipino classic film block called ETCinema and a Tagalog-dubbed Turkishnovela (Endless Love) in their ETCerye.

BEAM

If a wanderer is portrayed as a digital TV channel, then Broadcast Enterprises and Affiliated Media (BEAM) fit the bill.

These past few years, their channel serves as a digital TV playground where they have no defined purpose than GMA or NET 25 — call it an experimental laboratory, if you will.

This year, two events transpired for that company. On July 30, their broadcast franchise was renewed for another 25 years after affixing President Duterte’s signature. Three months later, the Chooks-to-Go 3×3 tournament gets a dedicated subchannel from this network.


That Being Said…

The year 2020 will forever be an exceptional year and a turning point. EXCEPTIONAL, where the way of life is significantly different than before and a TURNING POINT, where one major player’s fall has made a domino effect on our media consumption.

Few things will be sure arising from the lessons of this sagacious year:

  • There will be an overall setback in terms of broadcasting innovation.
  • The analog switchover (initially scheduled for end-2023) will certainly push anew to an indefinite date.
  • This will signal a sudden acceleration of younger demographics (from the younger half of millennials onwards) abandoning free TV and move on to online streaming (e.g. Netflix, iWantTFC or Kumu) — after attending online classes or working from home.

To paraphrase a quote from Spanish filmmaker Antonio Banderas, people are not that patient anymore.

So what will 2021 bring us? We don’t know but we have crossed the bridge of no return.


ONCE AGAIN:

I thank the 200+ Facebook users who like our Page, which total to 505 likes.

I thank the following people that defined 2020 for me: Miguele Torres, Rey Refran, Jayson Bustamante and Zyle Samuel A. Hernandez. I also want to thank Trendrod Box for being a complement to this one-man band of a project.

In Twitterlandia, Prof. Danilo Arao, Peter Cayton and JP Tanyag.


Have a healthy New Year. We shall reclaim!

This 2021, continue to like Timow’s Turf on Facebook

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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

Holy Week Programming in the Time of Lockdown


Carvaggio Crowning with Thorns

Carvaggio’s The Crowning with Thorns (1607)

[In memory of Joseph Emmanuel “Jake” Jacinto]

EVERY YEAR since our existence, the Turf publishes the programming insights that chronicled the subdued programming and advertising for the very important time that unraveled the mystery of the Christian faith. This has become the most viewed annual tradition.

This year’s commemoration, however, will not be like the usual as it is consumed by the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) throughout Luzon until Easter Sunday (April 12) April 30 to mitigate against the spread of the coronavirus.

With one year out to the Quincentennial, the national Church has dedicated and designated this year as the Year of Ecumenism, Interreligious Dialogue and Indigenous Peoples. Hence, we should have expected the theme to be integrated throughout this very sacred week.

Affected Programs

Live Religious Programs

While TV masses will still be here without the faithful, the live religious specials won’t be covered:

  • Palm Sunday Recollection (spearheaded by Fr. Jerry Orbos in Meralco Theatre, Pasig City on PTV)
  • Siete Palabras (on Good Friday, both on ABS-CBN and GMA, even in their respective regional channels where applicable)

Taped Religious Programs

  • While the Jesuit Communications’ annual Lenten special “‘Fiesta: Ang Makulay na Pananampalatayang Pilipino‘” is announced — with its narration by former Archbishop Cardinal Chito Tagle — the fate of broadcasting on ABS-CBN is shelved  (see more at the bottom).
  • The taping of Power to Unite‘s annual special this year, which will broadcast immediately before the 7 Palabras on GMA on Good Friday, will not happen. (Replay)
  • Even though this year’s edition of the 7 Last Words on IBC 13 is announced during the start of Lent, the shooting of Meng R. Canlas’ annual staple feared that it will not make it on time for shooting and post-production. (It will and it will remain in broadcast as scheduled amidst the void this week.)
  • While the Way of the Cross from the Colosseum is recorded and televised on GMA as the final religious (and over-all) special for the Triduum, this year’s iteration is canceled.

Lenten Dramas

Due to the ECQ, the planned shooting of the Lenten dramas for Eat Bulaga during the weekdays of Holy Week is considered shelved. The same applies to The 700 Club Asia, Michael Angelo and APT Entertainment (for Holy Saturday).

Had the pandemic not happened, EB’s stories would likely draw from the life stories in their successful segment of Bawal Judgmental. Alas, they have no choice but EB has to re-air some of their best Lenten classics.

Other Events

The inaugural edition of the summer edition of the Metro Manila Film Festival (SMMFF) — proposed by Sen. Bong Go — is postponed. The parade, which would have been held this coming Sunday, is called out.

Network Responses

In normal circumstances, the three days where most radio and VHF TV broadcasters are subdued or sign-off; non-Catholic broadcasters don’t have to follow suit. UNTV, even though they are inimical to Catholics, did sign off for the first two days. Throughout these days, no regular newscasts would be delivered but the news advisories would be longer.

The implementing operations this year remain the same.

Considering the ongoing emergency and the lessons made from 2015 when Super Typhoon Chedeng threatened to landfall, PTV will not sign off for their annual maintenance and they may give any sporadic updates. Lotto draws still remain off since mid-March.

Re: ABS-CBN

During the Triduum, ABS-CBN is well-known for airing religious specials — including the respective liturgical services on those days and JesComm’s annual Lenten special. Before the pandemic broke out, their franchise renewal became the country’s hot topic; while it should have been expired yesterday, the Department of Justice said that their broadcast franchise will lapse on May 4.

Regarding Easter Sunday (April 12)

Normal programming should have happened but because of the quarantine remains on this particular week, regular programming and new shows (teleseryes and a new Vice Ganda show) won’t be restored until at least, the following week.

At 4:00 p.m. (our time) on that day, Pope Francis would officiate the Easter Sunday Mass at the St. Peter’s Square and deliver the Urbi et Orbi Message and impart the Blessing from the Vatican. It is normally expected to air on ANC (Mass only), PTV, CNN Philippines while GMA would cover that at the very end of their broadcast day.

The usual outdoor celebration would not proceed since the lockdown in Italy is prolonged, in the account of higher casualties; it would resort exclusively to indoors and live stream.

The monitoring now will depend on you.


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