Friday, March 16, 2007

The Team Unity takes the initial lead -- in TV news

Sorry if this blog has gotten quite old, as I've been awfully busy these past few days doing PJR Reports and the elections news monitoring project of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility/CMFR (which by the way has a new look, thanks to old pal RV).

CMFR's monitoring project of the news media coverage of the 2007 national elections showed that the leading television news programs and the three largest Manila broadsheets covered the Arroyo administration’s Team Unity (TU) candidates most in the first three weeks of the campaign.

Here's CMFR on the results:


First Report (February 13 - March 2)
TV, broadsheets covered TU most in first three weeks of campaign

The media advocacy group Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) has found that the six leading television news programs and the three largest Manila broadsheets covered the Arroyo administration’s Team Unity (TU) candidates most in the first three weeks of the campaign. CMFR is monitoring the 2007 elections coverage of selected media organizations.

But CMFR deputy director and University of the Philippines journalism professor Luis V. Teodoro said no bias was evident.

“The TU’s getting more coverage was driven by the conventions of newsworthiness,” Teodoro said. “One indication is that due to his prominence, opposition leader and former President Joseph Estrada was more frequently quoted in the news accounts than administration personalities.”

The CMFR March 12 report also said the Genuine Opposition (GO) was a close second to TU in the coverage by both television and the broadsheets from February 13 to March 2.

The six monitored television news programs’ coverage of the senatorial and party-list elections ranged from 8.74 percent to 41.90 percent of total airtime during the first three weeks of the senatorial campaign, according to CMFR.

There were 158 newspaper reports about the TU candidates, while GO candidates were among the subjects of 128 reports.

But the reports were mostly about the controversies involving candidates in both teams, said CMFR. Among these was the decision by former oppositionists Edgardo Angara, Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, and Teresa “Tessie” Aquino-Oreta to join TU.

CMFR is monitoring the elections coverage by the Manila Bulletin, the Philippine Daily Inquirer, and The Philippine Star. The TV news programs CMFR is monitoring are TV Patrol World (ABS-CBN 2), Bandila (ABS-CBN 2), 24 Oras (GMA-7), Saksi (GMA-7), Sentro (ABC-5), and Primetime Teledyaryo (NBN-4). It has trained 30 journalism student-volunteers from the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication (UPCMC) to generate the data.
CMFR said that while coverage of the Senate elections seemed ample, the party-list elections seemed to be getting little attention.

The gay-lesbian group Ang Ladlad was the party-list group most covered by all six TV news programs, with a total airtime of only 4.28 minutes. It was followed by Bayan Muna, Gabriela Women’s Party, AnakPawis, and Kabataan Party.

Of the twenty senatorial candidates most covered by the TV news programs during the period, 11 were from TU, eight from GO, and one independent.

TU’s Cesar Montano – who replaced Leyte Gov. Jericho Petilla in the administration’s senatorial line-up last February 16 – had the most combined airtime coverage by the six television news programs at 79.32 minutes. Ralph Recto (also of TU) was a far second with 58.57 minutes, followed by Alan Peter Cayetano (GO), Francis Pangilinan (Independent) and Prospero Pichay (TU).

The most reported senatorial candidates in the three leading Manila broadsheets were almost exclusively from either the administration or opposition parties. There were only 26 reports on the independent candidates. Most of these focused on the decision by Pangilinan to run as an independent bet despite a previous GO announcement that it was adopting him as a guest candidate.

Much lesser coverage was given candidates of the Marcos-era party Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL) – with practically all the reports focusing on the party’s controversial candidate, Joselito Pepito Cayetano and his adopting the nickname “Peter”. The campaign jingles of various candidates and the ad spending of various candidates were also noted in the reports, particularly in the Inquirer. The Inquirer covered extensively the marital spat between celebrity couple Kris Aquino and James Yap, and its effect on the senatorial campaign of Ms. Aquino’s brother, Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III.

The feud between couple Vilma Santos and Sen. Ralph Recto with the latter’s brother, Batangas Vice-Gov. Ricky Recto, over the gubernatorial contest in Batangas was also consistently covered by the paper.

The Inquirer was the only paper that reported on Ang Kapatiran Party and its candidates, focusing on its advocacy of non-traditional politics. Although the Inquirer gave the party and its candidates much-needed public exposure, the reports did not include the party’s program of action.

Among the senatorial candidates of the administration, the most covered by the broadsheets were Surigao del Sur Rep. Prospero Pichay (20 reports out of 101), Recto (18), and Cesar Montano (13).

The most covered GO candidates were current Senate President Manuel Villar (20), Sorsogon Rep. Francis Escudero III (12), and Taguig’s Alan Peter Cayetano (12).

Pichay, Recto, and Villar were cited in a recent study by Nielsen Media Research Philippines (NMRP) as the biggest television advertisement spenders in the first two weeks of the campaign.

Of all the senatorial candidates, according to NMRP, Pichay spent the most, at about P33 million, for TV ad spots in the first two weeks of the campaign, while re-electionist senators Villar and Recto spent P30.29 million and P22.79 million, respectively.

The CMFR monitor will continue until the end of the campaign period in May. It is issuing reports on its findings every two weeks, to culminate in a final report by June. CMFR has been doing elections coverage monitors since its founding in 1989. It did a first ever citizens’ monitor of the national elections in 2004, the findings of which it published that year (Citizens’ Media Monitor: A Report on the Campaign and Elections Coverage in the Philippines, 2004).

Visit the CMFR website for the report and other details.

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