Media 230: Assignment No. 5

Topic: News Updates

Article: Philippines Profile – Media

Date published: January 21, 2019

Source: bbc.com

Link: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-15527446

Philippines Profile – Media is an article published last January 21, 2019 by bbc.com. It presented the current media landscape of the country and identified the power of the media when it comes to influencing commercial control and interests.

           Same as with the facts presented by Reporters without Borders and VERA Files in their report about cross-media ownership, it showed how two giant networks manipulate and control the media landscape. ABS-CBN and GMA contributes greatly when it comes to shaping public opinion and as well shaping the public sphere. Since television has still the largest percentage where people gets information, the content that these two giant networks show has a great effect on its viewers. Through their programs, their interests and as well as their other agenda are being reflected where some of its viewers accept, absorb, and probably even believe it without questioning its credibility and reliability.

           The article also identified how films, comedies and entertainment shows attract the largest audiences which is probably the reason why we tend to be presented with so much new programs and new movies almost every month. However, going back to the power of media when it comes to influencing commercial control and interests, the content, the format, and even the story line of these new programs and movies seem to be the same as with the previous programs aired and movies showed. We believe that there is so much options to choose from where in reality, we are looking at the same content only presented by a different set of characters, shot in a different location, or produced by different production company.

            As for the radio, it stated that Manila Broadcasting Company is the leading network in the country despite having hundreds of other radio stations and despite competing with the two giant networks, ABS-CBN and GMA.

            The article also described the private press as vigorous, however, prone to sensationalism. It also identified Filipino-language tabloids as the most popular. The need to earn and compete against hundreds of newspaper titles probably led to some of these newspapers or tabloids to sensationalize content. The need to attract more readers which will equate to more income has been driving these companies to compromise content. Like for example, regional newspapers earn less as compared to national circulated newspapers. These regional newspapers partly depend on government paid advertisements where their articles present politicians, sensationalize government projects, and even promote the political and economic interests of those who can afford to pay for advertisements.

            Despite the guaranteed press freedom in the country, it is still important to acknowledge that the Philippines is still identified as one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists. The article based this statement on the US-based Freedom House. Despite the government not censoring media content, it still has its way to silent journalists and threaten media organizations which go against their political and personal agenda. Recently, the news has been bombarded by threats to media organizations such as what happened to Rappler, names of some journalists being included in the drugs list, and threats of the administration not to renew the franchise of ABS-CBN.

            Lastly, the article also pointed out the 67 million internet users in the country based on the 2017 data of InternetWorldStats identifying Facebook and Twitter as the most popular platforms. Despite the huge number of internet users, there is still no censorship of online content making it prone to the proliferation of fake news. Since almost everyone now has access to the internet and has mobile phones, laptops or other electronic gadgets where you can access the internet, everyone has the capacity and the ability to create content. Everyone also has access to information, but what is lacking is the ability of some people to fact-check and validate the information that they have acquired online. Some people immediately believes what is presented to them.

            If we are to look back at the media landscape, we may have upgraded when it comes to the use of technology and the variety of platforms where information can be presented. However, when it comes to the viability and maximizing the use of media to foster factual and reliable sources of information, we probably have been degrading since fake-news is such an issue nowadays. We know that there are fake-news spreading around, but do we always validate the information that we get? Another thing is that, media organizations tend to lean towards commercialism and political interests. The need to earn to survive is such a great factor that influences the content of any given media text. The control of information are in the hands of those who can afford to produce television and radio programs, to those who can finance printing and publication businesses, to those who have knowledge when it comes to using technology. The stories, the news, the films, the programs that we are absorbing everyday are already filtered. It is good to acknowledge what kind of media landscape we are now living in so that we would also be able to identify and find out what measures and actions to make in order to avoid manipulation especially when it comes to knowing the right and accurate sources of information.

Other sources:

https://www.internetworldstats.com/stats3.htm

https://rsf.org/en/news/reporters-without-borders-and-vera-files-present-media-ownership-monitor-philippines-duopoly

https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world/2019/philippines

Advertisements

Assignment #4: Updates on News Media Issues Article: Negros media groups slam spread of list of ‘drug personalities’

Writer: Carla P. Gomez, Inquirer.net

Date published: February 13, 2019

Link: https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1085360/negros-media-groups-slam-spread-of-list-of-drug-personalities

Thoughts about the article:

Negros Occidental, being a small province is an island where media personalities are considered popular and are almost known by everyone. The circulation of local newspapers and tabloids are accessible to most of the population. Having only two local television channels where local programs air every afternoon, expect that reporters and news anchors are considered celebrities, and, radio being the dominant media in the province, expect that almost all taxi, tricycle, jeep or bus drivers can identify whoever is talking on air. 

The risk of identifying these journalists as ‘drug personalities’ says a lot about what kind of government we actually have now. The credibility of these personalities are at risk as well. How will people believe them if they are involved in such a case?

This article presented the blurring line of media and politics. The article stated that some names of Negros Occidental journalists are labeled as ‘drug personalities.’ The boundary between media and politics becomes thinner and thinner. The freedom to inform the public about the truth is also threatened. The power of those who are in the dominant position becomes magnified for they hold the authority to impose such rules, and to post such lists. 

On the other hand, the article also presented the unity of the media people in the province where they stand strong to defend their rights not just as journalists, but as well as citizens of the country. However, we also tend to ask sometimes if up to what extent will they be willing to risk and fight? If we are to review and if we are to base it on the report presented by the National Union of Journalists (NUJP), there were already 12 cases of media killings under Duterte’s administration and a total of 185 cases of death since 1986.

Source: https://news.abs-cbn.com/focus/01/02/19/better-or-worse-the-state-of-philippine-media-according-to-watchdogs

Another thing to point out here is the slow process of the justice system in our country. The length and the number of the steps which has to be done before finally embracing justice is very tedious. We are not only talking about a couple of years, but a long and a lengthy number of years. Since 1986, out of the 185 cases which involved media killings, only 17 have been resolved, and these cases were not completely resolved, only partly resolved. What happened to the Administrative Order No.1? The Presidential Task Force for Media Security.

The stigma of being part of the ‘list’ is also very critical in this issue. Especially for someone who’s considered to deliver the truth to the public. The power to make or break a media personality’s career is also in line. How will you uplift your name? How will you present the news? Will I still be credible to the eyes of the viewing public? Will they still listen to me? Having these thoughts in mind, it is as if you are already judged without even having to defend yourself. 

This article, especially this issue, is an alarming warning sent by the government to silence people who tries to pin them down. However, if there’s resistance, if there are facts that will prove them otherwise, maybe, we still have hope. I remembered my political economy professor saying that as long as there is resistance, and there are young and new journalists willing to make a change upon entering the industry, small steps will eventually matter.

References:

https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2019/01/01/1881439/duterte-medias-tense-relations-worsened-2018

https://www.rappler.com/nation/219393-philippines-deadliest-country-journalists-southeast-asia-ifj

https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/788543/duterte-endorses-killing-corrupt-journalists#ixzz5M4A77wA5

https://news.abs-cbn.com/focus/01/02/19/better-or-worse-the-state-of-philippine-media-according-to-watchdogs

https://cmfr-phil.org/statements/a-step-backward-in-the-campaign-to-end-impunity/

Assignment # 3 BONUS: Updates on News Media Issues (Regional Setting) Regional presence slightly felt: The rise and fall of GMA Bacolod’s regional programming

I am writing this article based on personal experiences and based on what I have observed as a media practitioner for almost 5 years in a regional television station in Negros Occidental. I started out as a reporter, host, and a segment producer of GMA Bacolod’s Isyu Subong Negrense.

For more than 20 years, the power of ABS-CBN in the province, especially in Region VI and specifically in Negros Occidental has been very evident. Its growth as a station is instilled in the region’s history when it comes to the development of television programming. It has contributed so much when it comes to shaping the public sphere. And as for the audiences, for them, it is a station that has been with them through different issues, calamities, elections, and other social and political occurrences over time.

The penetration of GMA Bacolod which started only in 2010, was as if a risk for the station to compete with a giant and a dominant network in the region. It was GMA’s step to test the waters in order to find out if it will be beneficiary for them in terms of programming, and the most important part of course is, in terms of profit. Extending regional reach is something that a network needs in order to extend their political and economic interests. Staying on top of the Capital Region is just a fraction of the overall population of the country. Thus, the need to expand.

GMA presented the audiences a different genre. It developed a magazine television show that will compete with ABS-CBN’s news and public affairs show. Both GMA and ABS-CBN’s programs aired from Mondays to Fridays at 5:00 in the afternoon. The inception of GMA’s Isyu Subong Negrense was a bold move to compete with ABS-CBN’s more than 20 years of TV Patrol Negros.

It was difficult to present a new genre format, which is a magazine television show to an audience who were used to watching straight news. However, what the audiences later on realized is the variety and the depth of the stories that magazine television shows can accommodate. Isyu Subong Negrense presented not just news, but as well as investigative reports, travel features, business segments, up to agricultural and art segments. Because of the audiences’ acceptance, these content became a threat to TV Patrol Negros. TV Patrol Negros then started to accommodate the same feature stories aside from their news stories in order to offer the same content as what Isyu Subong Negrense gives its audiences.

With the audiences’ warm reception to GMA’s new regional program, the network decided to establish two channels in order to cater far and remote areas in the province since signal has been an issue because of the geographical terrain of the province consisting of large mountains that affects the clarity of the channel in far flung areas. It established channels 13 and 30. But, it may also possibly be a step for the network to prepare for the digital demand, having channel 30 as its digital counterpart. Later on, ABS-CBN followed this step and established channels 4 and 40.

Since Negros Occidental is just a small province, the stories covered by Isyu Subong Negrense started to become seasonal, it repeated the same stories every year and its advertising value depreciated. In order for a regional program to survive, having advertisements is a requirement. Business establishments in the province is not as open to the power of advertising as compared to the capital, thus, this decreased the sales of the station. It then greatly depended on political advertisements paid by politicians and other local government units in order to earn profit and continue to support the everyday expenses of the production team in order to have content for the program.

After four years, Isyu Subong Negrense was no longer earning money which lead to its death. Again, the province was dominated by one network, that of ABS-CBN. The office of GMA remained, catering local advertisements for national programs.

Come September 2018, GMA again established another regional program. This time, leaning more towards news and public affairs format in the form of One Western Visayas. Its difference with Isyu Subong Negrense, aside from the format is that, instead of establishing different programs for Negros and Iloilo, the program content of One Western Visayas merged the two islands making it less expensive in terms of production and daily costs. Again, GMA’s presence is felt in the region.

This scenario, the rise and fall of GMA’s regional programming presented the power of how political economy shapes and turns the existence of any program. The need to earn is still a great factor when it comes to maintaining a program to still exist. Despite the small competition, only to that against ABS-CBN and some small cable television channels, GMA still has a lot to do in order to be at par, or probably close to competition.

Another thing to point out is that, those who shape the public sphere are actually those who can afford to create and to provide content. The audience takes in information shaped by those who has the money to produce a program. The monetary value earned by any network is relevant to the type of program developed and as well as in recognizing what programs will stay and what programs should go. Those programs which stayed are those that sells and earns. And as for those programs that does not earn, it has a shorter life span.

Lastly, losing regional programs is quite alarming. It has always been content about Metro Manila. However, in terms of proximity, it will still be better to have relatable and fresh information coming from the regions. Investing in the regions might be a risk if we consider only its economic value. However, what we might lose if we do not continue creating regional content is the culture and the stories of the regions which some of us have not even heard of.