Switching Channels

‘TV Patrol’ and tabloid journalism

There was a time when newscasts left sensational stories such as bloody killings and sex scandals to the tabloids and newscasters like Jose Mari Velez and Bong Lapira had the same calm, controlled voice in reporting good and bad news. All of that changed in 1987 when ABS-CBN launched "TV Patrol" and unabashedly admitted that the network was shifting to tabloid journalism. The new one-hour format called for more crime stories (murders, rapes, kidnapping), showbiz developments (love triangles, marital break-ups, sex scandals) and less issue-oriented stories.

On top of that, the news was delivered in Filipino, lingua franca of the mass audience and announcers were instructed to add several decibels to their voices.  English newscasts such as "The World Tonight," which featured more substantial topics, were moved to the ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC) where newscasters Tina Monzon-Palma and Angelo Castro delivered the news in a subdued manner.

The tabloid formula must have worked because "TV Patrol" managed to get unprecedented high ratings that attracted many advertisers. For once, the news department became a profit center for ABS-CBN. In the past, news operations always resulted in red ink but the network didn't mind because of the prestige that came with broadcast journalism.

More than two decades later, "TV Patrol" continues to follow the same format with some modifications. Anchors Noli de Castro, Korina Sanchez and Ted Failon now shout "TEEVEEE (long pause) PATROL" before commercial breaks. There is also a regular survey where viewers can answer yes or no to such questions as "Sapat na ba ang sampung libong piso para sa mga kawani ng gobyerno sa kapaskuhan?" Isn't it obvious that viewers will reply in the negative since most government employees are underpaid? Besides, non-scientific surveys do not necessarily reflect public opinion and may mislead the viewing audience.

The three comment on the news and exchange jokes at the end of the show. In most newscasts abroad, news anchors are not allowed to editorialize. Also, the network doesn't see anything wrong with a cabinet official's wife and a former vice president doing the news, not even when Noli was the subject of a news story on Pag-Ibig funds and Korina's hubby, Transportation and Communications Secretary  Mar Roxas figured in several reports. Can you imagine former US vice president Dick Cheney anchoring a newscast?

To be fair, Noli and Mar are not involved in any form of impropriety. However, I have always believed newscasters should be perceived as objective. How can a news program be perceived as unbiased when two of its news anchors have political connections?

The ABS-CBN newscast probably obtained record-breaking ratings in the past two weeks with the Ramgen Bautista murder case and the Maguindanao massacre hogging the headlines. These are two stories that deserve prominence on "TV Patrol."

The Ramgen killing implicates the victim's relatives and involves a prominent family. The Maguindanao incident sent shock waves not just locally but also on the international scene because 58 people including 38 journalists were slaughtered.

I don't understand why minor stories like a motorcycle accident, a rumble involving Korean tourists, the mauling of an unknown ex-actor by a group of basketball players, none of which involved someone getting killed, are given importance on primetime. That's what happens when a network practices tabloid journalism.

GMA and TV5 have also joined the fray with the stentorian voices of Mike Enriquez and Erwin Tulfo.

On a positive note, "TV Patrol" shines when natural disasters such as storms, floods and earthquakes strike. The network goes all the way in informing viewers about the latest developments. Armed with modern TV equipment, ABS-CBN is able to air reports, most of which are supported by video, from different parts of the country. Its reporters brave the elements to give live updates from the field. The network is also quick to respond when it comes to distributing relief goods to calamity victims.

Disclaimer: The views and observations of the author do not represent the position of Yahoo! Southeast Asia on the issue or topic being discussed.


Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • 15 wounded in 2 explosions in restive southern Philippines

    MANILA, Philippines (AP) — At least 15 people have been wounded in two separate blasts that hit a police camp in a restive southern Philippine province where Muslim militants operate, police said Saturday. …

  • 15 wounded in mosque attack at Philippine police camp
    15 wounded in mosque attack at Philippine police camp

    Fifteen people including 10 police officers were wounded in an attack on a mosque at police camp on a remote Philippine island long plagued by Islamic militancy, officials said on Saturday. Successive blasts targeted the mosque inside Camp Kasim on the island of Jolo early evening Friday -- an initial grenade attack followed by a bomb explosion less than 10 minutes later that was intended to target police who rushed to the scene, local authorities said. "It seems the (first) explosion was set …

  • US missile cruiser docks at Subic
    US missile cruiser docks at Subic

    A US Navy missile cruiser has dropped anchor in Subic Bay as part of “routine port call,” amid rising tension in the West Philippine Sea stirred by China’s island building activities and other threatening moves by its forces. The arrival of the Ticonderoga-class missile cruiser USS Shiloh (CG-67) at the Subic Bay Freeport in Olongapo City yesterday was “just a routine port visit for ship replenishment and routine maintenance of shipboard system,” said Philippine Navy Public Affairs Office …

  • Agri, power sectors should brace for El Niño
    Agri, power sectors should brace for El Niño

    The agriculture and power sectors, as well as the general public should brace for a prolonged El Niño phenomenon that could further reduce water supply for electricity and irrigation, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) warned yesterday. Flaviana Hilario, acting deputy administrator for research and development of PAGASA, said the El Niño condition is expected to intensify from weak to moderate by August this year. Anthony Lucero, …

  • China to US: Help cool down Phl on sea row
    China to US: Help cool down Phl on sea row

    The US should help “cool down” the Philippines and realize that its meddling in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) dispute would only stir tensions, a Chinese newspaper reported. “Washington should know its meddling in the South China Sea has been destabilizing the region. The US has vowed not to take sides in the territorial dispute, which involves China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan. …

  • No stopping K to 12 despite SC case, protests
    No stopping K to 12 despite SC case, protests

    K to 12 is the fruit of years of comprehensive consultations involving different sectors in education,” Aquino said during the launching of the program at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City. Organized by the Department of Education (DepEd), the launch was attended by teachers, students and representatives from different stakeholders supportive of the K to 12 program. It was held two years after the signing of Republic Act 10533, or the Enhanced Basic Education …

  • MNLF pushes review of peace pact with gov’t
    MNLF pushes review of peace pact with gov’t

    The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) maintained its bid for completion of the tripartite review of the implementation of the peace agreement with the Philippine government in 1996. The MNLF’s desire to put consensual closure to the tripartite effort was relayed by its leaders to Sayed El-Masry, the special envoy of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), during the annual foreign ministers conference in Kuwait last Thursday. The MNLF peace agreement with the government in Sept. 2, …

  • Noy to raise sea dispute issue with Abe
    Noy to raise sea dispute issue with Abe

    President Aquino is expected to raise the West Philippine Sea dispute during his meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Japan next week. However, there is no word yet if the Philippines will specifically ask Tokyo to join calls for China to stop its massive reclamation activities in disputed waters. Aquino will leave for Tokyo on June 2 for a state visit until June 5. …


Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Poll Choice Options