Shows the historical development of communication in the Philippines from pre-Spanish times to the present.

Philippine Media History



Commercial Television and Developmental Programming

While broadcast codes state that stations should include public affairs and other developmental formats, current programming focuses primarily on "hard" stories, highlighting power plays, competition, and violence. Over the past few years, the broadcast industry has displayed sensitivity to growing public criticism for its lopsided programming, and there has been a discernible increase in public affairs programming (other than news programs), which has recently gained public following. Some of these programs won international recognition such as The Probe Team and the now off the air Firing Line.

These programs in various formats - straight talk shows, news magazines, documentaries - are, however, packaged for limited viewership, because they use the English language. In general, Filipino, the national language, is used in entertainment programs, giving rise to false perceptions that Filipino cannot be a language for intellectual discourse.

Public service programs are still quite popular. Some video and television programmes show the needy being given medical and other forms of social assistance. Opportunities for the public to seek redress for grievances through television is now available, although still on a limited basis.

These programs are now among the popular programs aired during late afternoon and evening primetime, Hoy Gising and Isumbong Mo kay Tulfo. World class educational children's programs are made possible through Philippine Children's Television Foundation (PCTVF) and ABS-CBN Foundation. PCTVF produces the award-winning Batibot while ABS-CBN produces Sine'skwela, a school on the air on science for elementary students which has been aired since 1994, Hirayamanawari, a values-oriented program, Bayani (about heroism and heritage), and Math Tinik, mathematics for primary and intermediate pupils.

The People's Television Network , Inc. is a major co-sponsor of Continuing Education Program for Science Teachers Via Television (Constel), which broadcast three telecourses for teachers - elementary science, chemistry, and physics. The government TV network also airs a distance education course for teachers pursuing graduate education.

Specialized programmes for specific interest groups, such as women, cultural or ethnic groups, or consumers, however, have not gone beyond tokenism. Although there are 120 ethnic groups in the country, little is known about their culture. Media have been remiss in providing adequate coverage of issues affecting cultural communities. The limited coverage emphasizes primarily conflict situations, while the more visible groups are projected in stereotyped images.

Ecology and related stories get sufficient coverage only because the worldwide environmental movement is felt here and because of the sustained advocacy of local environmental groups. Other less controversial issues, like children's rights, human rights, consumerism, and health and nutrition, get fleeting attention from the media.

Television networks have exerted considerable effort to diversify and provide balanced and creative programming. These efforts are attributed to factors such as an increasing sense of social responsibility among network owners; KBP's effort to improve professionalism and standards in broadcasting; sensitivity to public advocacy for improved programming; and competition not only among television networks or stations but also with emerging cable television stations.

Excerpts from PHILIPPINE TELEVISION by Ramon R. Tuazon, http://www.NCCA.gov.ph

Radio today

Radio is now acknowledged as the primary source of news and the most pervasive, persuasive, and credible medium. It reaches 85 to 90 percent of the population with over 25 million sets nationwide. Of the 12 million estimated total number of households nationwide, the number of radio households is 10.2 million. In contrast, estimated households with televisions set is 8.52 million while estimated households with video cassette recorder is only 3.6 million. Station DZRH has the widest reach. With its satellite capability courtesy of Palapa B-4 which could send signals to the 20 relays scattered all over the Philippine archipelago, the station can cover as much as 97 percent of the entire country. Meanwhile, industry estimates suggest that the average radio listening time is two to three hours a day.

According to the National Telecommunication Commission (NTC), there are a total of 629 radio stations nationwide as of 1997, of which, 330 are AM stations and 399 are FM radio stations. Luzon has the most number of total AM and FM radio stations, 257 (123 AM and 134 FM). Mindanao has 235 radio stations - 100 AM and 135 FM. Visayas has 182 consisting of 77 AM and 105 FM stations, while Metro Manila has 55 - 30 AM and 25 FM. Of the 629 stations, only 530 are within the fold of the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas (KBP).

In terms of type of service, of the 539 KBP-member stations as of 1998, 488 operate as commercial stations and only 51 as non-commercial stations. Of the latter, 32 are government-owned (31 AM and one FM), 10 are religious (eight AM and two FM stations), seven educational (four AM and three FM), and two military (all AM stations).

Most radio stations are part of a broadcast network. The largest network is Radio Mindanao Network, Inc. with 37 radio stations nationwide. Manila Broadcasting Company owns 31 AM and FM stations nationwide, excluding the 100 low power FM stations. Nation Broadcasting Corporation with 29 radio stations nationwide.

An interesting development is the growth of community radio stations. In 12 remote communities nationwide, low-powered FM radio stations have been set up since 1991 through the Tambuli Project funded by UNESCO and Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA). These radio stations are owned and operated by the local community members who also produce their own programs, using the very popular Karaoke system ( a sing-along cassette console with loudspeaker). These stations feature developmental messages, especially on health care, environment, and livelihood as well as entertainment.

Commercial radio networks are now duplicating the success of the Tambuli project. Manila Broadcasting Corporation (which operates DZRH) has set up 100 low powered radio stations in remote communities nationwide. Each station has a 500-watt transmitter capable of sending a clear signal within a 10 kilometer radius. However, most of the programs aired are still packaged or produced in Manila which reinforces Manila-centric programming rather than promoting local programming.

Advancements in telecommunications technology during the past decade have expanded the reach of radio. Some major radio networks such as ABS-CBN Broadcasting (through DZMM) and Manila Broadcasting Company (through its lead station DZRH) are now linked to the satellite for nationwide and even global coverage.

Some issues and concerns

The Philippine mass media in general is known as the freest and liveliest in the whole of Asia. But it is also criticized for being often irreverent and irresponsible. There have been pressures from various sectors urging media organizations such as the KBP to impose higher ethical standards and social responsibility among their members.

Many sectors perceive "envelopmental" journalism as being prevalent. This refers to the practice of bribing media practitioners (including broadcasters) to get positive media mileage or to down play, if not totally "kill" negative stories. A recent publication, News for Sale by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), documents the "prices" political candidates have to pay for desired media exposures.

In terms of content, media in general are being criticized for being rambunctious, floundering in sensationalism, acrimony and mudslinging. In particular, they deplore the seeming proliferation of so-called tabloid broadcast journalism where radio programs apply the "success formula" of tabloids - crimes, sex and gossip broadcasting.

Media's penchant for exposes and defending the underprivileged had cost the lives of many (broadcast) journalists especially those from the provinces. Because of their watchdog function and adversarial stance, many journalists continue to tread on dangerous grounds.

Meanwhile, technological developments are proving to be the most serious challenge to the radio industry. Phono players, reels and cassettes would only do for "jurassic" stations. On-air multiband sound processing or multitract recording will be the technology of choice. Digital and Internet will dominate new broadcast technologies.

Radio stations have to retool, i.e., go digital, in order to compete, provide better quality programming, and eliminate of multi-path interference. Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) will offer listeners additional services such as artists information, stock quotes, and sports scores. Satellite systems are transforming the media audience into global audiences whose choices of channels and programs are virtually unlimited. In this new media landscape, how can local radio stations offer better programming?

In this age of the global village, the threat of cultural homogenization or domination, especially by those who own and control technology, becomes even more real. The interactive and two-way capabilities of modern technologies should be harnessed to the fullest to ensure cultural harmony, integrity, and identity. But this concern applies not only in the global setting but in the national setting as well. For decades, broadcasting in the Philippines has been one-way - Manila produces and the rest of the country watches or listens. New technologies now allow for more exchange of images and messages within and across countries.

Excerpts from RADIO AS A WAY OF LIFE by Ramon R. Tuazon, http://www.ncca.gov.ph