PCIJ: Media most blessed

(Originally published by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ). This was originally a side bar to the report/article — MEDIA AGENTS SNARED P360M IN COMMISSION
Some 50 TV, radio, print outfits did not submit all pol ads docs?
by Floreen M. Simon. http://pcij.org/stories/some-50-tv-radio-print-outfits-did-not-submit-all-pol-ads-docs/. Date Accessed: August 11, 2017)

Supporting Media: pdf and png images

PCIJ: Ad Agents and Commissions , May 2016. pdf

PCIJ: Top Media Agencies by Receipted Ad Contracts , May 2016 Elections (based on submitted advertising contracts.

PCIJ: Pol Ads by Media Platform , 2016 Elections

PCIJ: Ad Agencies and Estimated Amount of Commission, May 2016 Elections

PCIJ: Media Windfall, May 2016 Elections , August 2017.

THE EXPENDITURE totals usually don’t quite add up and tallies from different entities don’t match. But there is no question that among those who strike it big during elections are media outfits, and the 2016 polls proved no different.

As in elections past, TV emerged as the platform of choice of the candidates for national office for their political ads that ran during the three-month campaign period. Nine TV stations in particular got the majority of these ads, which – based on receipts and ad contracts submitted to the Commission on Elections — ran up to at least P3.6 billion worth or 90 centavos for every peso that the candidates spent on ads.

These lucky nine TV stations are mainstream giants ABS-CBN, GMA 7, and TV5, along with the channels and relay stations they operate outside Metro Manila; the cable TV channels 2nd Avenue, Basketball TV, ETC, Jack TV, and Solar Sports; and the Pampanga-based CLTV.

Radio came second to TV in terms of ad buys from the candidates. Again based on receipts and ad contracts submitted to Comelec, at least 163 radio networks and stations snared a total of P378 million or 9.5 percent of the entire value of the national candidates’ political ads that ran from Feb. 9, 2016 to May 7, 2016.

The balance of pol-ad monies went to online, print, and combined TV and radio, the documents received by Comelec show. Although most of the sums presumably paid for 30- and 60-second ad spots, some were used to secure supposed TV features and radio interviews.

Comparative figures generated by Nielsen Media’s monitoring of political ads run during last year’s official campaign period yielded similar trends, with most of the ad buys also going to TV. Nielsen Media’s numbers, however, were far more than those based on documents submitted to Comelec. For instance, Nielsen said that TV’s share of the pol-ad bonanza came to P6.66 billion or nearly double the number based on Comelec documents. It also said that radio took as much as P1.7 billion in ad buys, or more than triple the figure derived from receipted ad contracts from Comelec. Nielsen said as well that the ads en toto amounted to P8.4 billion — more than double the comparative number from papers submitted to Comelec.

Then again, this is because Nielsen computes ad values based on the published rate cards of media outfits. Generous discounts are not uncommon among media firms, however; industry executives even say that these can be as much as half that of the published rate cards.

* Official receipts submitted by ABS-CBN for Mar Roxas and Lakas-CMD without corresponding Ad Contract or Telecast Order for unspecified media platform

In any case, here’s what the media outfits themselves reported as having collected from pol-ad spending by the national candidates and the political parties during the official campaign period last year:

— Reporting by Floreen M. Simon, PCIJ, with additional research by Fern Felix, Davinci Maru, Vino Lucero, Ana Ysabel Manalang, Jil Danielle Caro, Steffi Mari Sanchez, and Malou Mangahas, PCIJ, August 2017

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ASEAN and Social Media Coverage

Before we proceed let me just say that I am at present a senior media consultant of the PCOO. My sole area of concern for the consultancy is the ASEAN. I have also participated in the talks and discussions on accrediting bloggers and social media practitioners. What follows below is my opinion and my opinion alone.

As I watched the 50th year celebration of ASEAN on my smartphone and television set happen I noticed there were two news items and a few tweets criticizing the inclusion and accreditation of blogger at the ASEAN in the media coverage. In one article it was mentioned twice that these bloggers were given materials and fed using the people’s taxes. What was conveniently omitted in that article was that all accredited media were given the same thing. Whatever reason it may be you could feel the bile and poison dripping from the keyboard of that writer. However, It does give us the opportunity to discuss the accreditation of bloggers, social media practitioners who are opinion makers and sharers.


I started out as a blogger and I have seen the development of social media in the Philippines. However, I do know that the word blogger is an archaic term for one important reason — There are now more and more social media platforms coming out and being used to create, post, share and interact information/mews/opinion. In other words aside from blogs there is FB, Twitter and a host of other things/platforms. All you need is a smart phone, internet connection and a social media platform to become a Social Media User. Then if you intend to go beyond using your social media platforms for advocacy, vocation or work you become a Social Media Practitioner. All bloggers are social media users and social media practitioners but not all social media users and social media practitioners are bloggers.

As a social media practitioner it is surprising to learn about the howls and criticism of some about the accreditation of social media practitioners to press conferences and government events. This is because of the following things that I have experienced in my years as a blogger and a social media practitioner in the Philippines:

One, Before the advent of Facebook and Twitter bloggers were invited to cover news events and press conferences. Initially these were in the technology, food, culture and arts. Then it began tp widen to other fields.

Two, During the elections bloggers interviewed candidates. Local political news also began to be shared with the rising social media platforms FB and Twitter.

Three, Social media practitioners began to get organized into groups in order to pursue advocacies or to professionalize themselves. Groups like Blogwatch, CBS and the Davao Bloggers were the first of these.

Fourth, Government agencies and embassies began and continue to invite social media practitioners to cover their events and press conferences.

Fifth, Scholarships and fellowships were given to social media practitioners by the US State Department under the International Visitor Leadership Program and Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ)

Sixth, In several Internet Governance Forum meetings several social media practitioners have become delegates and have been described as advocates or media practitioners.

Seventh, In our present landscape there are a number of social media users and practitioners who have a high following an more important trust rating. In some cases higher then those of media outlets. Granted there maybe those who bloat their stats but it does not diminish the clout of those with legitimate stats.


First, Effective Communicators and the Fifth Estate

The ability to create, post, share and interact has made social media a fast channel of communication. Similar to the printing press , the Internet has enabled the fast distribution of news and information. On-line everyone is a publisher-writer of his or her content. There are those who have become effective communicators and because of that have built up a following: subscribers. It would be foolish not to invite such social media practitioners. This what some people call the fifth estate.

Second, Inclusivity

All must have access to its government. The advent of the Internet and Social Media has led to a channel of information, communication and knowledge that can and be used by government to reach its people and its people to reach its government.


As to inclusion/accreditation of social media practitioners: Historically, It has long been practiced and done; In terms of information dissemination: It is the most practical and reaches those connected online ; And it is in line of opening up government to the people. However, Place qualification rules and regulations to weed out the corrupt. Make it inclusive: make it democratic.

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Looking at ASEAN 2017 and ASEAN 50

The celebration of the 50th Anniversary of ASEAN has ended and as we go about our daily routine there will be a a number of things that have been observed. I make this observation as a senior media consultant of PCOO and more important as a citizen. My status as a senior media consultant might be and will prompt about a label that this is biased. post. Note though that as a consultant it gives me some additional insight as to how ASEAN was managed from January to the present.

First, ASEAN in its ministerial meetings, agreements and collective statements have come up with a few important things. The blue print has been laid down for the development of ASEAN as a regional economic center, this includes but not limited to the ASEAN integration — all the challenges and opportunities that will be encountered by every citizen of ASEAN. There is also the move towards a more independent and diplomatic move to handle the situation in the South China Seas. It may not be what the hawks would want but it is the most pragmatic approach to the problem. The same hawks who can and are also vocal seem to forget the lesson that can be learned from Aesop’s fable about the Lion and the Dolphin. Lastly, The issue on of the tinderbox situation in the Korean Peninsula was handle by ASEAN as skillfully and adroitly as it can.

Second, The celebration of the 50th of ASEAN was conducted in what can be described as a professional manner. Events, meetings and forums were accomplished without any major hitches. There were no major traffic monsters during the celebration. One would note that one did not see masses of Filipinos walking up and down the major roads . Security and safety considerations were in place for all participants . There were no untoward incidents reported and cases of phones left in cabs/cars were promptly returned. Security may have been strict but this is what is needed in events of this nature. What is amazing about the security arrangements is this was done in a non-glaring way. It was there but it blended in with the events and celebrations.

Third, It was interesting to see the collective of people who worked behind the scenes. It was a community of government people, volunteers, media and citizens who made the holding of all ASEAN events possible. There have been criticisms but not much has been said about the people working to make ASEAN possible. Not much has been said about the grass root information campaign done nationwide. Also It is not limited to the Philippines alone. Across the other ASEAN member states you could see aside from government, citizens engaging and talking about ASEAN.

At this point once could say that the 2017 ASEAN celebrations have been done professionally. It is not perfect. Nothing is. It has avoided the problems of past international events held but it still has to fix new problems and challenges it has encountered.

In a sense the Nation’ s management of ASEAN 2017 is practical, un-extravagant, efficient and competent.

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