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Indicators of Risks to Media Pluralism

Media Audience Concentration

Result: High Risk

This indicator aims to assess the concentration of audience and readership across media platforms based on audience share. Concentration is measured by using the nationwide biggest 4 owners in the market.

With a highly concentrated TV, Radio, and online market, and a low concentration in the print market, media audience concentration puts a HIGH RISK on media pluralism in the Philippines.

Why?

Television market: In the Philippines Nielsen, a market measurement firm, measures Television audience. However, ratings were not available for all the TV outlets in the MOM sample. So for instance, CNN Philippines, UNTV, PTV and Net 25 have not been included in the ratings, most likely because they do not make the top 10 media by audience share. The top 10 Television data by audience share also includes four entertainment channels without news content which were not included in the MOM sample. Hence the audience share is difficult to calculate based on MOM methodology. However it has to be noted that the risk of concentration in the television market appears to be very high even with the data available.
The Average Minute Rating (AMR) in the second quarter of 2023 of the GMA Network (including GTV) is 4,772,004, which is 62,02% of the top ten (including the entertainment channels). The second in line TV 5 network (including One PH) doesn’t even have half of the AMR of GMA Network and represents 15.01% of the top 10 with 1,154,531 average number of viewers per minute. ABS-CBN through its affiliates A2Z and Kapamiliya channel come third with 888,253 AMR or 11.54% of the top 10 Nielsen sample. 

Radio market: AM stations usually air news, while most FM stations focus on music. Audience data for radio listenership is provided by Nielsen for the second quarter of 2023. The top 4 media companies in the AM market are GMA Network Incorporated ( (DZBB 594, 31.16%) Manila Broadcasting Corporation (DZRH 666, 29.64%), Eagle Broadcasting Corporation (DZEC 1602, 11.70% ), and Interactive Broadcasting Media Incorporated (DWWW 774, 9.21%). Taken together, these stations reach 81.71% of the audience - which indicates a high concentration in the news radio market.

Aside from dominating the TV audience, GMA Network’s AM radio station had the most listeners. 
Manila Broadcasting Corporation, with its six (6) radio brands (mostly in the FM band) is owned by the Elizalde family, who is also into amusement and real estate businesses.
Interactive Broadcasting Media Incorporated is a sister company of Radio Mindanao Network - the country’s largest nationwide network of AM and FM radio stations. The two companies are owned by the Canoy family. 

Print market: Instead of audience share, data available for print is in terms of incidents of readership or claimed media habits. Based on readership data provided by CMV for 2023, the risk of concentration appears high in the print market. The TOP 4 print companies in the country have more than 83.91% of the total readership sample consisting of 16 titles.

Two of the companies are family businesses. The Manila Bulletin Publishing Corporation with the readership audience of 28.77% is owned by the Yap family. The Rufino-Prieto family owns Pinnacle Printers, which holds the majority shares of Inquirer Holdings Incorporated - the umbrella company of the family’s media businesses. This includes the Philippine Daily Inquirer which reaches 17.90% of audience share.
Aside from a TV network, Pangilinan’s MediaQuest Holdings owns print and online outlets.
Prage Management Corporation is a relatively new player, having acquired Abante and Abante Tonite from the Macasaet family’s Monica Publishing Corporation. Prage is a start-up founded by former print journalists Rey Marfil and Gil Cabacungan. The two print media reach an audience share of 8.63%.

Online market: Data available for the online news market was readership share provided by Nielsen for the second quarter of 2023. The most popular news sites belong to companies that also own other media outlets, which show high concentration and strong cross-media presence.

 

MEDIUM HIGH 
Audience concentration in Television (horizontal) 

Percentage: 88.57%
(Based on second quarter of 2023 Nielsen)

GMA Network: 62.02%(GMA-7: 51.63%; GTV: 10.39%)
MediaQuest Holdings Incorporated: 15.01% (TV5: 12.99%, One PH (2.01%)
ABS-CBN Corporation: 11.54% (A2Z: 7.18%; Kapamilya Channel: 4.37%)

If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have an audience share below 25%.  If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have an audience share between 25% and 49%.  If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have an audience share above 50%. 
Audience concentration in Radio (horizontal) 

Percentage:  81.71%
(Nielsen’s Radio Audience Measurement, RAM, Q2 2023)

GMA Network: 31.16% (DZBB 594)
Manila Broadcasting Company: 29.64% (DZRH 666)  
Eagle Broadcasting Corporation: 11.70% (DZEC 1602)
Interactive Broadcasting Media Incorporated: 9.21% (DWWW 774)

If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have an audience share below 25%.  If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have an audience share between 25% and 49%.  If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have an audience share above 50%. 
Readership concentration in newspapers (horizontal) 

Percentage: 83.91%
incident of readership / survey based on self-reported readership (Nielsen Consumer and Media View Q2 2023)

Manila Bulletin Publishing Corporation: 28.77% (Manila Bulletin, 20.78%; Balita, 4.37%; Tempo 3.62%)
MediaQuest Holdings: 28.61% (Philippine Star: 16.14%; Pilipino Star: 10.28%; Banat News: 2.18%)
Pinnacle Printers Corporation: 17.90% (The Philippine Daily Inquirer: 17.90%)
Prage Management Corporation: 8.63%  (Abante, 5.75%; Abante Tonite, 2.88%)

If within one country the major 4 Owners have a readership share below 25%. If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have a readership share between 25% and 49%.  If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have a readership share above 50%. 
Audience concentration in Internet (horizontal) 

Percentage: 76.28%
incident of readership / survey based on self-reported readership (Nielsen Consumer and Media View Q2 2023)

GMA Network Incorporated: 26.7% (gmanetwork.com)
ABS-CBN Corporation: 22.74% (abs-cbn.com)
MediaQuest Holdings: 13.8% (philstar.com)
Pinnacle Printers: 13.04% (inquirer.net)

If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have an audience share below 25%.  If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have an audience share between 25% and 49%.  If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have an audience share above 50%. 

 

 

Media Market Concentration

Result: No Data

This indicator aims to assess the horizontal ownership concentration based on market share which illustrates the economic power of companies/ groups. Concentration is measured for each media sector by adding the market shares of the major owners in the sector. 

Why? 

The media market concentration based on market shares could not be computed. Although the financial data of media companies are available from the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Philippine Stock Exchange and websites of a few media companies, there is no industry-wide data or official government data that could be used to effectively compute their revenue shares in each media sector.  

 

LOWMEDIUMHIGH
Media Market Concentration in Television (horizontal)
Percentage: not assessed    
If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have a market share below 25%. If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have a market share between 25% and 49%. If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have a market share above 50%. 
Media Market Concentration in Radio (horizontal) 
Percentage: not assessed    
If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have a market share below 25%. If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have a market share between 25% and 49%. If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have a market share above 50%. 
Media Market Concentration in Print (horizontal) 
Percentage: not assessed 
If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have a market share below 25%. If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have a market share between 25% and 49%. If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have a market share above 50%. 
Media Market Concentration in Internet Content Providers
Percentage: not assessed 
If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have a market share below 25%. If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have a market share between 25% and 49%. If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have a market share above 50%. 

 

Regulatory Safeguards: Media Ownership Concentration

Result: High Risk

This indicator assesses the existence and effective implementation of regulatory safeguards (sector-specific and/or competition law) against a high horizontal concentration ownership and/or control in the different media. 

Philippine mass media are predominantly owned and controlled by a handful of conglomerates and influential families with an interest favorable to their political and economic interests. The same corporations are politically and ideologically conservative and resistant to any change that can adverse the effect of those interests. Thus, media ownership concentration raises concerns about media diversity, freedom of expression, and democracy. While an anti-trust body has been established by the Fair Competition Act (2014) - the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) - which monitors, prevents, and breaks up media monopolies, regulatory safeguards to prevent media ownership concentration remain scant. That is why a HIGH RISK was diagnosed.

Why?

  • Navigating the intricacies of media regulation in the Philippines presents a unique challenge, as the existing framework lacks a dedicated media regulatory body. Instead, responsibilities are divided among various entities. The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) issues Certificates of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) for TV and radio frequencies, while Congress grants franchises for TV and radio operations. To operate, two approvals are needed: legislative approval from Congress and administrative approval from the National Telecommunications Commission. Competition concerns fall under the jurisdiction of the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC), albeit without a sector-specific focus.
  • Licensing is done in a relatively transparent twin-franchising procedure in which the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Congress, and the National Telecommunication Commission (NTC) are involved “How to get a license?" The decision about whether to issue a license or not is not based on arguments that involve the applicant’s prior engagement in the media sector. There are no media-specific objective thresholds (e.g. number of licenses, audience share, turnover/ revenue) that would give SEC, NTC, and Congress a reason not to decide in favor of granting a franchise.
  • The NTC turns out to be powerless when it comes to revoking licenses – as they are based on a congressional decision and thus can only be revoked by Congress. Also, a reason for a franchise revocation or penalty would not be due to concentration but e.g. if technical supervision would be lacking.
  • For print and online, only a registration at SEC is necessary but no media-specific authorization. That is why there was seen no need for establishing a regulatory authority for print or online media companies.
  • Media-specific regulations for blocking a merger or acquisition don’t exist. However, the Philippine Competition Commission is a general anti-trust body that can prevent or otherwise break up media monopolies.
  • Questions 4.1 and 4.2 may yield a negative response, as they pertain to different legal frameworks than the affirmative response applicable to question 4.3, which involves the PCC. From 4.3 onwards, the discussion delves into PCC regulations, acknowledging the absence of active media monitoring by the PCC.

 

 

Regulatory Safeguard Score:

5 out of 20 = High Risk (25,5%).

1 = media-specific regulation/ authority0.5 = competition-related regulation/ authority

Television, Radio, print and OnlineDescriptionYesNoNAMD
4.1Does the media legislation contain specific thresholds or limits, based on objective criteria (e.g. number of licenses, audience share, circulation, distribution of share capital or voting rights, turnover/revenue) to prevent a high level of horizontal concentration of ownership and/or control in this sector?This question aims to assess the existence of regulatory safeguards (sector-specific) against a high horizontal concentration of ownership and/or control in the TELEVISION sector.0
4.2Is there an administrative authority or judicial body actively monitoring compliance with the thresholds in the audiovisual sector and/or hearing complaints? (e.g. media and/or competition authority)?This variable aims to assess if the law/regulation provides a due monitoring and sanctioning system for the regulation on audiovisual media concentration.0
4.3Does the law grant this body sanctioning/enforcement powers in order to impose proportionate remedies (behavioural and/or structural) in case of non-respect of the thresholds?

The variable aims at assessing if the law is providing a due system of sanctions to sector-specific regulation, such as:

  • Refusal of additional licences;
  • Blocking of a merger or acquisition; 
  • Obligation to allocate windows for third party programming; 
  • Obligation to give up licences/activities in other media sectors;
  • Divestiture.
0.5 (PCC)
4.4Are these sanctioning/enforcement powers effectively used?This indicator aims to assess the effective implementation of sector-specific remedies against a high horizontal concentration of ownership and/or control in the television media.0.5 / Medium risk:
the authority's powers are not always used in all the relevant
Total           1 out of 4
MEDIA MERGERSDescriptionYesNoNAMD
4.17Can a high level of horizontal concentration of ownership and/or control in the media sector be prevented via merger control/competition rules that take into account the specificities of the media sector?

This question aims to assess the existence of regulatory safeguards (sector specific and/ or competition law) against a high horizontal concentration of ownership and/or control in the media sector through merging operations. For instance, the law should prevent concentration in merging operations: 

- By containing media-specific provisions that impose stricter thresholds than in other sectors;

- The mandatory intervention of a media authority in merger and acquisition cases (for instance, the obligation for the competition authority to ask the advice of the media authority);

- The possibility to overrule the approval of a concentration by the communication authority for reasons of media pluralism (or public interest in general)); -that - even though they do not contain media-specific provisions - do not exclude the media sector from their scope of application.

0.5
4.18Is there an administrative authority or judicial body actively monitoring compliance with rules on mergers and/or hearing complaints? (e.g. media and/or competition authority)?This variable aims to assess if the law/regulation provides a due monitoring and sanctioning system.0.5 (PCC)
4.19Does the law grant this body sanctioning/enforcement powers in order to impose proportionate remedies (behavioral and/or structural) in case of non-respect of the thresholds?

The variable aims at assessing if the law is providing a due system of sanctions to sector-specific regulation, such as: 

  • Blocking of a merger or acquisition; 
  • Obligation to allocate windows for third party programming; 
  • Obligation to give up licences/activities in other media sectors;
  • Divestiture.
0.5
4.20Are these sanctioning/enforcement powers effectively used?This indicator aims to assess the effective implementation of sector-specific remedies against a high horizontal concentration of ownership and/or control in the television media.Medium risk: the authority's powers are not always used in all the relevant cases x (0.5)
Total

           2 out of 4

 

Sources: Media outlet and owners’ profiles Legal Assessment 2023 MOM 2016

Cross-media Ownership Concentration

Result: High Risk

This indicator aims to assess the concentration of ownership across the different sectors – TV, print, audio, and any other relevant media – of the media industry. Cross-media concentration is measured by adding up the market shares of the Top 8 media companies. The results are not an indicator for economic strength in different media sectors but rather for the potential influence on public opinion when considering all media types.

Why?

With the data collected from financial statements accessed from the Philippine Stock                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Exchange, Inc. (PSEI) and procured from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC),  the top eight (8) media companies with the highest revenue across all media sectors (TV, radio, print, and                                                                                                                                                                                                     online) were determined from calculating the ratio between their revenues and the whole revenue market.

(Note: The market shares are a proxy. Normally, market shares are computed by dividing the companies’ total revenues by the media industry's total revenue over a fiscal period. As the media industry’s total revenue was not available, the revenues of the 18 companies that disclosed their revenues were computed as 100% market share. Information from their official Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Documents was used. For most companies, data for the Fiscal Year 2022 was available.)

Results show that the leading 3 companies, GMA Network, ABS-CBN Corporation, and MediaQuest have 90 percent of the market. These players are active across all media markets, television, online, print and radio indicating a high risk of cross media ownership concentration.

Top 8 media with highest revenues
The Gozon, Duavit, and Jimenez families have 31.61% of the market (GMA Network Inc - GMA -7, GTV, iMovies, Heart of Asia, DZBB 594, gmanetwork.com)
The Lopez family has 31% of the market (ABS-CBN Corporation - Kapamilya Channel, Cine Mo!, abs-cbn.com/news)
Manny V. Pangilinan has 28.04% of the market (TV5 Network - TV5, Radyo5, The Philippine Star, Pilipino Star, Banat News, philstar.com)
The Elizalde family Manila Broadcasting Company has 2.8% of the market (Manila Broadcasting Company - DZRH 666, 90.7 Love Radio, 101.1 Yes The Best, 96.3 Easy Rock, Aksyon Radyo Network, Radyo Natin Network, dzrh.com.ph)
The Yap family has 1.72% share of the market (Manila Bulletin Publishing Corporation - The Manila Bulletin, Tempo, mb.com.ph, balita.net.ph)
Maria Farah Z.G. Nicolas-Suchianco has 0.94% share of the market (Nine Media Corporation - CNN Philippines, Radio Philippines Network, cnnphilippines.com)
Bro. Eddie Villanueva has 0.92% share of the market (Zoe Broadcasting Network, Inc. - A2Z Channel, Light TV Channel)
The Rufino-Prieto family has .90% share of the market (Pinnacle Printers Corporation and Inquirer Holdings - The Philippine Daily Inquirer, Bandera, Inquirer Libre, Inquirer.net, DZIQ 990, cebudailynews.inquirer.net)

The top eight firms/media owners have a cross-media concentration of 87.13% of the market.

LOW (1)MEDIUM (2)HIGH (3)
3Percentage: 97.93%
If within one country the major 8 owners (Top8) have a market share below 50% across the different media sectors.  If within one country the major 8 owners (Top8) have an audience share between 50% and 69% across the different media sectors. If within one country the major 8 owners (Top8) have a market share above 70% across the different media sectors.

 

 

Regulatory Safeguards: Cross-media Ownership Concentration

Result: High Risk

This indicator aims to assess the existence and effective implementation of regulatory safeguards (sector-specific and/or competition law) against a high degree of cross-ownership between media types (press, TV, radio, internet).

There is very limited regulation that affects cross-media ownership, which is ultimately not preventing cross-media concentration. Therefore a HIGH RISK for market distortion through cross-media concentration exists.

Why?

  • The Public Telecommunications Policy Act of the Philippines (1995) provides that a single entity cannot engage in both telecommunications and broadcasting under a single franchise. But this does not prohibit a single entity from getting a telecommunications franchise separately from a broadcasting franchise. Although online media does not require franchise, it is considered mass media such as in the case of Rappler.com.
  • There is no effective merger control in the Philippine media market. Although the antitrust body Philippine Competition Commission (PCC), which was established in 2016, could monitor and break up monopolies, there is no political or judicial awareness that could prevent cross-media ownership. Due to the lack of regulation, media empires such as ABS-CBN Corporation, GMA Network, Inc. and MediaQuest Holdings, Inc. continue to thrive and dominate the media market.
  • However, a rare instance was in 2022 when the PCC issued a statement regarding its preparedness to review the potential market impact of ABS-CBN’s plan to acquire 34.99% common shares of TV5 Network, Inc. worth PhP2.16 billion (US$38.004 million). On Aug. 11, 2022, a day after the Lopez family-owned ABS-CBN sealed an investment agreement to acquire ownership in TV5 headed by businessman Manuel “Manny” V. Pangilinan, the PCC expressed its readiness to review the impact in the media market of the transaction, including its potential “result in a substantial lessening of competition in the relevant markets.” It also took note of the acquisition of 38.88% in TV5’s affiliate cable provider Cignal Cable Corporation worth PhP2.862 billion (US$47.188 million) by the Lopezes’ Sky Vision Corp. (owner of Sky Cable). A few days after pausing the deal, ABS-CBN and TV5 mutually canceled later in the month the finalization of the transaction following the PCC’s statement, the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) telling ABS-CBN and TV5 to secure clearances and clear any liabilities like unpaid taxes and securing before it approves the deal, and the conduct of a congressional hearing into the transaction led by lawmakers who opposed the renewal of ABS-CBN’s franchise in 2020 such as SAGIP Party-list Rep. Rodante Marcoleta. The Sky Cable and Cignal Cable likewise terminated their proposed deal.
  • In a related case to ABS-CBN, the PCC also sought to clarify its role in the re-allocation of frequencies formerly assigned to the network to Advanced Media Broadcasting System Inc. (AMBS), Aliw Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), and Swara Sug Media Corporation (SSMC). Although it recognized the NTC’s regulatory function in the re-allocation of frequencies, the antitrust body recommended in a January 2022 statement to be included as an approving body in the assignment of vacated or available frequencies, saying it is a practice done in other countries “in consideration of the impact on competition of players over scarce public goods like frequencies”.
  • Asked about its actions to maintain competition in free television, the PCC responded via the Freedom of Information portal in 2020 that it “continues to monitor and analyze the practice of competition in markets that affect the Philippine economy, implement and oversee measures to promote transparency and accountability, and ensure that prohibitions and requirements of competition laws are adhered to.” Advocating to establish pro-competitive policies of the government, its actions include (1) reviewing economic and administrative regulations, motu proprio or upon request, as to whether or not they adversely affect relevant market competition, and advising the concerned agencies against such regulations; and (2) advising the executive branch on the competitive implications of government actions, policies and programs.
  • An example of high-degree of cross-media ownership is the Pangilinan-led MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., which was established using the pension funds of the telecommunication company PLDT, that has ownership stakes in at least 14 media outlets that operate radio, television, print and online news websites. Among its eight newspapers, it owns the broadsheets Philippine Daily Inquirer and The Philippine Star, and tabloid Pilipino Star Ngayon, which are the second, third and fourth leading newspapers in the country, respectively, as of second quarter of 2023. It also owns the second leading television station TV5 as of second quarter of 2023, and the news-oriented channels ONE News and One PH. It also operates the radio station 92.3 True FM (Radyo 5).
  • GMA Network, Inc. owns a network of over 100 TV and radio stations, with its flagship TV channel GMA 7 and flagship radio stations DZBB 594 (AM) and 97.1 Barangay LS (FM). It also operates the website GMA News Online. 
  • Although ABS-CBN has lost its broadcast franchise in 2020, it continues to survive in the broadcasting business by utilizing its digital and social media platforms, and through blocktime and content distribution agreements for its television programs with Zoe Broadcasting Corporation and former competitors GMA and TV5. It also founded the new radio station DWPM 630 and its counterpart cable television TeleRadyo Serbisyo through a joint venture with Prime Media Holdings, Inc. It also operates the website abs-cbnnews.com, the publisher ABS-CBN Books and lifestyle magazine Metro.

Regulatory Safeguard Score: 2 out of 8 – High Risk (Regulation: 25%)

CROSS-MEDIA OWNERSHIPDescriptionYesNoNAMD
5.1Does the media legislation contain specific thresholds, based on objective criteria, such as number of licences, audience share, circulation, distribution of share capital or voting rights, turnover/revenue, to prevent a high degree of cross-ownership between the different media?This indicator aims to assess the existence of regulatory safeguards (sector-specific and/or competition law) against a high degree of cross-ownership in different media sectors.  0
5.2Is there an administrative authority or judicial body actively monitoring compliance with these thresholds and/or hearing complaints? (e.g. media authority)This variable aims to assess if the law/regulation provides a due monitoring and sanctioning system for the regulation on audiovisual media concentration.0.5 (PCC) 
5.3Does the law grant body sanctioning/enforcement powers in order to impose proportionate remedies (behavioural and/or structural) in case of non-respect of the thresholds?

The variable aims at assessing if the law is providing a due system of sanctions to sector-specific regulation, such as: 

  • Refusal of additional licences; Blocking of a merger or acquisition;
  • Obligation to allocate windows for third party programming;
  • Obligation to give up licences/activities in other media sectors;
  • Divestiture.
0.5 
5.4Are these sanctioning/enforcement powers effectively used?

The relevant authority never uses its sanctioning powers.

The question aims at assessing the effectiveness of the remedies provided by the regulation.

  0
5.5Can a high degree of cross-ownership between different media be prevented via merger control/competition rules that take into account the specificities of the media sector?

For instance, cross-ownership can be prevented by comptetion law: 

- by the mandatory intervention of a media authority in M&A cases (for instance, the obligation for the competition authority to ask the advice of the media authority); 

- by the possibility to overrule the approval of a concentration by the competition authority for reasons of media pluralism (or Public interest in general);

0.5 
5.6Is there an administrative authority or judicial body actively monitoring compliance with these rules and/or hearing complaints? (e.g. media and/or competition authority)This variable aims to assess if the law/regulation provides a due monitoring and sanctioning system for the regulation against a high degree of cross-ownership in different media sectors via merger control/competition rules.  0
5.7Does the law grant body sanctioning/enforcement powers in order to impose proportionate remedies (behavioural and/or structural) in case of non-respect of the thresholds?

Examples sanctioning/enforcement powers and remedies: 

- blocking of a merger or acquisition;

- obligation to allocate windows for third party programming;

- must carryobligation to give up licences/activities in other media sectors ;

- divestiture.

0.5 
5.8Are these sanctioning/enforcement powers effectively used?The question aims at assessing the effectiveness of the remedies of the regulation.  0
Total                2 out of 8

Conversion rate on Oct. 17, 2023. US$1=PhP56.836
Sources: Consultation with lawyer Romel Bagares, January 2024

Ownership Transparency

Result: Medium Risk

This indicator assesses the transparency of data about the political affiliations of media owners as ownership transparency is a crucial precondition to enforce media pluralism.  

Companies registered in the Philippines have to disclose their ownership structures to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), where that information can be purchased. In order to complete missing data which was neither available online or offline (SEC documents), media outlets and companies were contacted with a list of follow-up questions. In total, the risks related to ownership transparency are assessed as MEDIUM.


Why?

The Media Ownership Monitor again analyzed publicly available data, both online and offline from PSEI and SEC for 2023. Media outlets with missing data were contacted with a list of follow-up questions. More than 53 media outlets were analyzed and traced to 27 media companies. The results are:

For the majority (21) of the companies together with their related outlets, ownership data was available by request from the SEC. In three cases the registers either have outdated General Information Sheets or Audited Financial Statements.

Actively transparent were the media outlets of stock-listed companies, legally obliged to inform proactively and comprehensively about their ownership on the website or in the newspaper. This concerned 13 of the outlets, belonging to ABS-CBN Corporation, GMA Network, Inc.,  Manila Bulletin Publishing, Manila Broadcasting Company, and Prime Media Holdings. State-run outlets of the Presidential Communications Office were considered actively transparent since issuances on appointments were released publicly.

Three media companies, Manila Bulletin Publishing, GMA Network, and ABS-CBN,  were considered passively transparent, which means representatives from their respective companies reacted to follow-up questions and were open to talking to the research team.

None of the media companies had publicly unavailable information.

No company actively disguised the ownership structure, e. g. through bogus companies.

 

LOW (1)MEDIUM (2)HIGH (3)
TRANSPARENCY
6.1

How would you assess the transparency and accessibility of data about media ownership?

Active Transparency – 22.22%

Passive Transparency – 11.11%

Data Publicly Available – 77.77%

Data Unavailable – 0%

Active Disguise - 0%

Data on media owners as well as their political affiliations is publicly available and transparent.

(Active Transparency)

Code if that applies to > 75% of the sample

Data of media owners and their political affiliations are disclosed based on investigations of journalists and media activists or upon request.

(Passive Transparency, Publicly Available)

Code if that applies > 50% of the sample. 

Data on political affiliations of media owners are not easily accessible by the public and investigative journalists of activists are not successful in disclosing these data.

(Data Unavailable, Active Disguise)

Code if data is available for < 50% of the sample 

Regulatory Safeguards: Ownership Transparency

Result: High Risk

This indicator aims to assess the existence and effective implementation of transparency and disclosure provisions with regard to media ownership and/or control.

Laws on corporate disclosures and beneficial ownership transparency also cover media companies.  However, this does not prevent the layering of company structures to obscure the path to tracing beneficial owners. Moreover, information on beneficial ownership is not publicly available even in procured documents from the SEC. The SEC also denied the request of VERA Files to access the beneficial ownership information, explaining that it is only to be made available for law enforcement purposes. Overall, there is a HIGH RISK related to  media ownership transparency because either regulatory safeguards are insufficient or they are poorly administered.

Why?

  • Setting up a company requires registration as a franchise by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). As of then, companies have to submit annually both a Financial Statement (FS; includes revenues, profits, capital stock, etc.) and General Information Sheets (GIS; ownership structures & shares, information about executive and non-executive boards, etc.). Those data can be purchased at the SEC. Corporations that are listed at the stock market are additionally obliged to disclose their ownership structures on their websites.
  • Sanctions in case of non-respect of disclosure obligations could be theoretically imposed and brought to court – however, there has notably been no such case. Moreover, the latest audited financial statements from a few of the media companies we’ve looked into are outdated.
  • The removal of the reverse search feature in SEC platforms with the implementation of the Data Privacy Act is still a major hurdle. Reverse searching allowed search using the names of media owners to get information on all shares they hold in other businesses.
  • The regulatory safeguards that promote transparency tend to be superficial as the practice of layering company structures to obscure ultimate beneficial owners is still common. Those complex structures are legal and can theoretically be delayered – but it requires time and financial resources to request more documents. VERA Files requested the beneficial ownership information for the documents it was able to obtain; however, the Anti-Money Laundering Division of the Enforcement and Investor Protection Department of the SEC denied the request, citing that beneficial ownership declaration (BOD) information shall only be made available for law enforcement purposes to protect the data privacy rights of individuals.

Note that disclosure of changes in ownership structure to the public is mandatory only for publicly-listed companies (PSE), otherwise, the disclosure is made only to the public authority (SEC).

Assessment looks at all four sectors and applies to them.
Regulatory Safeguard Score: 1 out of 5 – High Risk (20%)

Transparency ProvisionsDescriptionYes No NAMD
7.1Does national (media, company, tax...) law contain transparency and disclosure provisions obliging media companies to publish their ownership structures on their website or in records/documents that are accessible to the public?The aim of the question is to check regulatory safeguard for transparency towards the citizens, the users and the public in general.0
7.2Does national (media, company, tax...) law contain transparency and disclosure provisions obliging media companies to report (changes in) ownership structures to public authorities (such as the media authority)?The aim of the question is to check regulatory safeguard for accountability and transparency towards public authorities.0.5
7.3Is there an obligation by national law to disclose relevant information after every change in ownership structure?This question aims at assessing if the law provides rules on the public availability of accurate and up-to-date data on media ownership. This is a condition for an effective transparency.0
7.4Are there any sanctions in case of non-respect of disclosure obligations?This question aims at assessing if the law on media ownership transparency can be enforced through the application of sanctions.0.5
7.5Do the obligations ensure that the public knows which legal or natural person effectively owns or controls the media company?This question aim at assessing the effectiveness of the laws that deal with media ownership transparency and if they succeed in disclosing the real owners of the media outlets.0
Total (Mean of L-e und L-I sub-indicators)           2 out of 5

Political Control Over Media Outlets

Result: High Risk

This indicator assesses the risk of political affiliations and control over editorial independence of newsrooms. It also assesses the level of interference by politically affiliated actors in the work of news media.
Political affiliation means that a company belongs to a party, a partisan group, a party leader or a clearly partisan person (either directly or indirectly through proxies).

Why?

Media ownership is one of the most problematic aspects of the media situation in the Philippines. Since the American period in the 1920s, mass media in the Philippines have been owned and controlled by business and political interests. The pattern has continued to this day, with major newspapers, TV, and radio outlets being in the hands of various interests.

PCIJ Executive Sheila Coronel noted that media owners “have not been shy about using their publications or their broadcasting facilities to advance their political or business interests.” Given the extent to which owner interest often intrudes on the kind of media content the audience can access, the question of whose reality is presented through the media is linked to who controls and owns the media and in whose interest they exercise that control.

Political affiliations of TV owners:

8.1 - For TV, 5 out of 10 television stations in the sample have politically affiliated owners. The owners with political affiliations reach an audience of at least 88.57%, i.e. the Duavit Family with their GMA Network reaches an audience share of 62, whereas Manny V. Pangilinan through MediaQuest holdings has an audience share of at least 15%, and Lopez Family together with Bro Eddie Villanueva have an audience share of 11.54%. The list of owners with political affiliations is provided below:

Manny V. Pangilinan, through his multimedia enterprise MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., acquired the majority of stakes in the television station TV5 and of the leading broadsheets The Philippine STAR, and its other multimedia enterprises including People Asia, BusinessWorld, The Freeman, Pilipino Star Ngayon, Pang-Masa, Banat, and InterAksyon. He also has shares in the broadsheet Philippine Daily Inquirer. Outside media, Pangilinan is also the chairman of the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) and the Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC), Manila Electric Co. (Meralco), Philex Mining Corp., Metro Pacific Tollways Corp., and Maynilad Water Services Inc. Although Pangilinan has no political affiliation, in an article from ABS-CBN News, political analyst Ramon Casiple and veteran journalist Vergel Santos said that he is influencing politics. Meanwhile, Mon Casiple, the executive director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reforms (IPER), said that Pangilinan’s political agenda is through buying stakes in all of these companies and sectors.


The Duavit Family is a political family from Rizal who has business interests in media and real estate. Gilberto Duavit, Sr., the founding chairman of GMA Network, Inc., was then-president Ferdinand Marcos Sr.’s presidential assistant who helped draft the 1973 Constitution as a delegate to the 1971 Constitutional Convention. He entered politics in 1992, serving in the legislature as Rizal congressman, and got reelected until his third term from 1998 to 2001. His son Michael John ran as a district representative in 2001 to replace his father, and won, serving three terms until 2010. Jack’s brother, Joel Duavit took the helm in 2010 to run as congressman serving two terms until 2016. Jack then returned to politics in 2016, after a year in GMA Network Inc. as a Board Director. He is an incumbent congressman of Rizal and has held the position since the 17th Congress.


The Lopez Family is an influential family with roots in Iloilo, a province in the Visayas in central Philippines. The Lopezes make the bulk of their money from mass media but aside from their media venture, their other businesses include power and energy generation and distribution, property development, financial services, and manufacturing. The founder of ABS-CBN was a fourth-generation Lopez: Eugenio Lopez Sr., son of former Iloilo governor Benito Lopez and brother of former Vice President Fernando Lopez. In a study by Alfred McCoy (1993), the postwar climb of the Lopez brothers was based on their “masterful manipulation of the state’s regulatory and financial powers.” McCoy described the Lopezes as, “the most successful rent seekers, prospering largely because they were skilled in extracting special privileges from a “state apparatus” (p. 435). From the founding of their provincial bus company during the 1930s to the formation of corporate conglomerates in the 1960s, the rise of Eugenio and Fernando Lopez was due to state licenses that restricted access to the market.


Iglesia Ni Cristo, headed by its Executive Minister, Eduardo V. Manalo, is a religious sect founded in November 1913 by his grandfather, Felix Y. Manalo. The INC was officially registered as a formal religious corporation in 1914. INC owns Eagle Broadcasting Corporation, the church’s commercial subsidiary broadcasting network that operates DZEC Radyo Agila, an all-news AM radio station, and NET25, EBC’s flagship television channel known for its news coverage, public affairs, entertainment programs, and religious content. The church’s growth is well exemplified by the increasing number of large and elaborate INC church buildings throughout the country, and how it openly participates in politics through its highly centralized authority structure. The INC wields political clout by practicing bloc voting during national and local elections. As the executive minister, Manalo has the monopoly of power and is solely responsible for the affairs of the sect, and its members are expected to be politically loyal to the directions of the hierarchy.


Eduardo "Bro Eddie" Villanueva is a known religious and political leader. He owns ZOE Broadcasting Network, the broadcasting arm of JIL that operates the television channel A2Z. Before joining politics and officially declaring his leave of absence as its Spiritual Director during the launching of the Bagong Pilipinas Movement on March 28, 2009, he was best known as the founder and leader of Jesus Is Lord Church, a Christian church founded in 1978. In 2004, he ran for president but lost to Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, placing last in a field of five candidates. In 2010, he ran again as president but lost to Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, placing fifth among nine candidates. In 2013, he ran again as a senator but also did not make the cut. His eldest son, Eduardo “Jon-Jon” Villanueva, Jr., was charged with murder for allegedly ordering the shooting of a soldier of the Armed Forces of the Philippines during the May 2007 elections. His daughter, Joni Tugna, served as a municipal mayor until she died in 2020. His other son, Joel, is an incumbent senator.

Political affiliations of radio owners:

According to Nielsen’s Q2 2023 Philippine Media Landscape Report, radio dips as fewer listeners tune in to morning time bands. 8 out of 11 radio stations in the sample have politically affiliated owners, including one government-controlled radio station. The list of owners of radio stations with political affiliations is provided below. While the cumulative share of politically-affiliated owners was only 43.85%, the number could have been higher because of owners whose radio stations failed to make it to the Top 10.

Iglesia Ni Cristo operates DZEC Radyo Agila, an all-news AM radio station, through its church’s commercial subsidiary broadcasting network Eagle Broadcasting Corporation.

The Canoy Family owns and manages Radio Mindanao Network, Inc., the country’s largest radio network founded by the patriarch Henry Canoy, consisting of 60 AM and FM stations nationwide. Aside from RMN, the family’s holding company owns Interactive Broadcast Media Incorporated (IBMI), which runs AM radio station, DWWW 774. The family also owns EDCanoy Prime Holdings, Inc. that have shares in marketing and advertising firms, Echo Media Marketing Innovations Corporation, RMN Networks Marketing and Media Ventures Incorporated. Henry’s son, Eric S. Canoy sits as the President and Chairman of EDCanoy Prime Holdings, President and Chairman of IBMI, and President, Chairman, and CEO of RMN. The brother of Henry, Reuben Rabe Canoy, was a Filipino lawyer, writer, and politician who served as mayor of Cagayan de Oro and legislator in the 1970s and 1980s.


Elmer V. Catulpos had humble beginnings as an insurance agent, multi-level marketer, treasure hunter, and contractual radio news reporter for Bombo Radyo. Determined to rise from poverty, he founded the Brigada News Philippines daily in 2005. His business expanded to Brigada Mass Media Corporation operating local TV and national radio stations. He then ventured into other industries such as pharmaceuticals, leisure, construction, and security agency, and built the Brigada Group of Companies. While he owns several radio stations, their audience reach was not enough to make it to the Top 10. He and his wife, Yelcy Y. Catulpos, hold the majority of ownership of Manila-based BayComms Broadcasting Corporation, which they acquired in 2013. BayComms operates the franchise of Brigada’s FM radio stations, and Media Serbisyo Production Corporation’s  DWPM Teleradyo Serbisyo 630 – formerly ABS-CBN’s flagship AM station. In 2022, Elmer V. Catulpos ran for the mayoral post of General Santos City under the Achievement with Integrity Movement (AIM) party, founded by the Antoninos. He lost to Lorelie Pacquiao, sister of boxing champ, Manny.

Political affiliations of newspaper owners:

8.3 - There is a lack of readership data for the press in the Philippines. However, 9 out of 14 print media outlets, with a cumulative audience share of 80.77% have political affiliations.  


The Belmonte Family is known for their involvement in the media industry through their ownership of one of the country’s leading newspapers, The Philippine STAR, and other multimedia enterprises that include People Asia, BusinessWorld, The Freeman, Pilipino Star Ngayon, Pang-Masa, Banat, and InterAksyon. The family has played a pivotal role in shaping the direction of the family’s newspaper business having been involved in the industry for years and has maximized the Internet to maintain a strong presence online. Their eldest son, Isaac was the former head of Philippine STAR’s editorial board. Their second son Miguel currently sits as the CEO of the broadsheet The Philippine STAR and has grown the company as a multimedia enterprise. On the other hand, Kevin currently manages the broadsheet’s online website, philstar.com, and currently sits as its CEO. The family is not only involved in the media industry. Their father Feliciano was a former House Speaker and their sibling Joy, is the incumbent Quezon City mayor.


The Rufino-Prieto Family owns the Inquirer Group of Companies which handles the Philippine Daily Inquirer, inquirer.net, DZIQ 990 Inquirer Radio, Inquirer Bandera, and Inquirer Libre. The family is also into printing, content production, real estate, and logistics.The matriarch, Marixi Rufino-Prieto, is the chair of Inquirer Holdings, Inc. the umbrella company of Inquirer’s media and other businesses. Her daughter,  Ma. Alexandra "Sandy" Prieto- Romualdez who is the CEO, is married to mining executive Benjamin Philip G. Romualdez, brother of House Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez. The Romualdezes are also into media, as Philip chairs the newspaper, Manila Standard. Martin has his own media empires, the Philippine Media Collective Corporation (PCMC), operating radio stations in Tacloban, and Prime Media Holdings, Inc., which entered into a joint venture with ABS-CBN Corporation to operate and manage DWPM Radyo 630. Marixi and her family were included in the 2007 and 2008 Forbes list of richest Filipinos, ranking 39th and 40th, respectively. But the family’s wealth did not only come from their media empire, as they are also involved in other businesses, particularly with the following real estate companies: Marilex Realty Development Corporation, Corinthian Commercial Corporation, Lexmedia Realty Corporation, and Sunvar Realty Development Corporation. Mercedes “Peachy” Prieto, Marixi’s sister-in-law, is among the top three shareholders of Inquirer Holdings. Aside from this she also runs restaurant and cafe Casa Roces in Malacanang.


The Garcia Family owns and operates SunStar Publishing Incorporated, a publishing company that holds a significant position in the Philippine media landscape for its regional and community newspapers. SunStar is widely recognized for its newspaper publications and online news platforms that cover major cities in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. The political Garcia clan is the first cousin of Jesus B. Garcia Jr., whose family owns 30% of SunStar Publishing Incorporated through its holding company, Armson Corporation, which is wholly owned by his wife, Armi, chief executive officer of Tablea Chocolate and national chairperson of the Philippine Cacao Industry Development Council, and their children, Marie Kalinaw, Michelle Himaya, Gahum Vincent, and Bayani Jess. Jesus Jr.’s sibling, Alvin, was a former mayor of Cebu City and was charged with violating the Fair Elections Act due to alleged excessive political advertisements in SunStar Cebu in 2004. Jesus Jr.’s cousin, Pablo Garcia, was a former Cebu governor and congressman while his daughter Gwendolyn is an incumbent governor in Cebu. Her sibling Winston served as a board member of Cebu, and Pablo John is an incumbent Congressman of the 3rd District of Cebu.

Political affiliations of online owners:

8.4 - There is no data on audience share of online media. However, 7 of 11 online media outlets, with at least 76.28% of audience share in the sample have partisan/politically affiliated owners. These include outlets owned by the Duavit family, the Lopez family, the Rufina-Prieto family, the Belmonte family, and Manny Pangilinan. Other owners include:
                                                                                                                               
The Ang Family is the fourth owner of The Manila Times after the EDSA People Power in 1986 that ousted the dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr. The patriarch Dante Arevalo Ang is known in the newspaper industry as he published the business magazine, Money Asia, and founded the Filipino broadsheet, Kabayan. He formally acquired The Manila Times from then-owner Mark Jimenez during the term of former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in 2001. A known loyalist of the former president, he became her senior publicist. Arroyo later appointed him chairman of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas from December 2005 until Arroyo’s last day in office in 2010. He was also appointed as a special envoy for international public relations by then-president Rodrigo Duterte. His son, Dante Francis “Klink” Ang II, currently sits as the President and CEO of The Manila Times Publishing Corporation. He is a recent presidential appointee of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. as an Acting Member of the Board of Directors of Clark International Airport Corporation. His other son, Michael Alexander Ang, is the Chief Financial Officer of The Manila Times Publishing Corporation and is also part of the National Committee on Communication (NCCom) under the Subcommission on Cultural Dissemination (SCD) as the Vice Head for Print Media (Luzon) of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts. Aside from his active involvement in media, he is also an Honorary Consul General of Jordan in Manila.


Apollo C. Quiboloy is the founder of the Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI), the official broadcasting arm of his Davao City-based religious group Kingdom of Jesus Christ, The Name Above Every Name (KOJC TNAEN). A preacher since 972, Quiboloy proclaimed himself as the “appointed Son of God” and began using this as his official brand in 2003. His network uses its branding as an alternative media with the tagline, “Truth that matters.” The media network disguises propaganda as news and uses its platforms to attack journalists and activists. SMNI operates on various media platforms, including television, radio, and online channels, through which it broadcasts news, religious programs, talk shows, and other media content. The network is known for being supportive of former president Rodrigo Duterte. Quiboloy’s church’s broadcasting arm is receiving government favor in the form of airwaves despite its failure to abide by journalistic standards. The Facebook page of its news and public affairs network, SMNI News, is at the core of the network of accounts, pages, and websites that red-tag government critics and attack the media


8.5 - In the Philippines, the transparency of politically affiliated ownership in the media landscape is a matter of concern. Out of the 20 individual owners identified in the sample, a significant majority, encompassing 13 owners, were found to have political affiliations. What adds to the complexity is the observed lack of transparency surrounding the financial interests tied to politically controlled media entities. The majority of these media outlets appear to maintain a shroud of secrecy regarding their financial connections to political figures, raising questions about the extent to which ownership structures are disclosed and accessible to the public.


8.6 - In addressing conflicts of interest between media ownership and political affiliations in the Philippines, it becomes evident that there is a lack of specific regulation governing this intersection. While rules for divestment by politicians from their business interests exist, their effectiveness has been limited. Section 9 of Republic Act 6713 emphasizes the imperative for public officials or employees to avoid conflicts of interest. It mandates their resignation from any private business enterprise within thirty days of assuming office and the divestment of shareholdings or interests within sixty days of assumption. This requirement extends to partnerships involving public officials or employees. Notably, exemptions exist for those serving the government in an honorary capacity, as well as for laborers and casual or temporary workers. Despite these provisions, the absence of targeted regulations addressing conflicts of interest specifically between media ownership and political entities highlights a regulatory gap that merits attention and potential reform.


8.7 - Examining the landscape of media ownership and political interests in various newsrooms indicates a concerning trend of systemic interference with editorial autonomy. The influence wielded by politically affiliated owners appears to permeate the decision-making processes within news organizations in subtle or overt ways, impacting the freedom of journalists and editorial teams to independently report and analyze news to align with the preferences of media owners. In an article from Vera Files, CNN reportedly faced tensions over the usage of the terms "dictator" and "strongman" in the context of political reporting. The article highlights instances where political pressures, including the preferences of politically affiliated owners, have led to internal debates and adjustments in the editorial approach of the media outlet. Despite the media organization's commitment to editorial independence, the article suggests that external influences, potentially linked to political interests, may play a role in shaping news content.


8.8 - In a report by journalist and executive director of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) Melinda Quintos-de Jesus, “Journalists and news staff often find themselves caught in a bind where unequal pay and employment conditions lead to unacceptable compromising of ethical standards.”  Self-regulation in the Philippines has been described as “a means of balancing interests of the government and private media sector.” In the Philippines, the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) is the self-regulatory board of broadcast media founded during the martial law period under a government mandate for the broadcast media to regulate themselves. According to a published report by the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, the KBP has a Standards Authority that enforces standards in programming, advertising, and trade practice through its Radio and Television Codes. While these codes are extremely detailed, in reality, the KBP has difficulty enforcing them due to a lack of manpower to monitor all the radio and TV stations in the country. Many reputable media organizations guarantee editorial independence in their statutes, emphasizing a commitment to unbiased reporting and autonomous editorial decision-making. Furthermore, a significant number of leading news entities subscribe to self-regulatory codes that reinforce editorial independence. Codes such as the Journalist's Code of Ethics of the Philippine Press Institute, serve as internal guidelines for journalists in fostering a culture of journalistic integrity and safeguarding against external pressures that could compromise the editorial autonomy of newsrooms. The convergence of statutory provisions and self-regulatory frameworks among the nation's esteemed media outlets underscores a concerted effort to prioritize and uphold the principles of editorial independence in the pursuit of delivering accurate and impartial news coverage.

Score:  High Risk

LOW (1)MEDIUM (2)HIGH (3)
POLITICISATION OF MEDIA OUTLETS
8.1

What is the share of TV media owned by politically affiliated entities?

Value: 88.57%

The media having <30% audience share is owned (controlled) by a specific political party, politician, or political grouping, or by an owner with specific political affiliation.The media having <50% >30% audience share is owned (controlled) by a specific political party, politician, or political grouping, or by an owner with specific political affiliation. The media having >50% audience share is owned (controlled) by a specific political party, politician, or political grouping, or by an owner with specific political affiliation.
8.2

What is the share of Radio stations owned by politically affiliated entities?

Value: 43.85%

The media having <30% audience share is owned (controlled) by a specific political party, politician or political grouping, or by an owner with specific political affiliation.The media having <50%>30% audience share is owned (controlled) by a specific political party, politician, or political grouping, or by an owner with specific political affiliation. The media having >50% audience share is owned (controlled) by a specific political party, politician or political grouping, or by an owner with specific political affiliation.
8.3

What is the share of Newspapers owned by politically affiliated entities?

Value: 80.77%

The media having <30% audience share is owned (controlled) by a specific political party, politician or political grouping, or by an owner with specific political affiliation.The media having <50%>30% audience share is owned (controlled) by a specific political party, politician or political grouping, or by an owner with specific political affiliation. The media having >50% audience share is owned (controlled) by a specific political party, politician or political grouping, or by an owner with specific political affiliation.
8.4

What is the share of Online News Media owned by politically affiliated entities?

Value: 76.28%

The media having <30% audience share is owned (controlled) by a specific political party, politician, or political grouping, or by an owner with specific political affiliation.The media having <50%>30% audience share is owned (controlled) by a specific political party, politician, or political grouping, or by an owner with specific political affiliation. The media having >50% audience share is owned (controlled) by a specific political party, politician, or political grouping, or by an owner with specific political affiliation. 
8.5To what degree is politically affiliated ownership transparent? The majority of politically controlled media are secretive about their related financial interests. 
There is only limited politically affiliated ownership in the country and in all cases, the owners and their interests are disclosed to the public.The majority of politically controlled news media are transparent about their ownership and interests.The majority of politically controlled media are secretive about their ownership and interests.
8.6Are there laws that regulate conflicts of interests between media ownership and political parties, partisan groups, party members, office holders and relatives?
There is clear and effective regulation that highlights the incompatibility of political office (on the local, regional, national level) with media ownership and requires transparency in the case of other political offices.There is regulation, but only covers some politically affiliated groups (effectively).There is no regulation, or regulation is ineffective.
8.7Do politically partisan owners or other political interest systematically interfere with the editorial autonomy of newsrooms?
The available evidence suggests very few or no attempts at interfering with editorial autonomy.The available evidence suggests occasional interferences and/or some degree of self-censorship in newsrooms. The available evidence suggests systemic interference with editorial autonomy, which may or may not be accompanied by self-censorship in newsrooms. 
8.8To what extent is editorial independence guaranteed in editorial statutes or in self-regulatory mechanisms?
Most news media in the country guarantee editorial independence in their statutes, or they subscribe to self-regulatory codes that do so.The most prestigious news media in the country guarantee editorial independence in their statutes, or they subscribe to self-regulatory codes that do so.Neither editorial statutes, nor self-regulation mentions editorial independence, or the guidelines are not respected by newsrooms.

Philippines: How media corruption nourishes old systems of bias and control, Accessed 10 January 2023

Political Control Over Infrastructure

Result: Low Risk

This indicator assesses the political control over important infrastructural layers in the distribution, as well as in the value and supply chains of media content. It also assesses the level of discrimination in favour of politically affiliated media distribution networks. Infrastructural elements are in most cases privately owned and access is provided to news publishers for a fee.

  • Leading infrastructural element is defined as a network covering more than 15% of the national market.
  • Political affiliation means that the network belongs to a party, a partisan group, a party leader or a clearly partisan person. In some cases, infrastructural elements can be state-owned, but effectively under the control of a governing party.
  • Discriminatory actions include unfavorable pricing and posing barriers to media accessing the distribution channel.

Why?

9.1 - Print Distribution Networks – Researchers tried to research and request from top print outlets the list of their own printing houses, including third-party printers, and distribution networks (kiosks, newspaper stands and resellers), but they received no response.

In practice, aside from their own delivery/distribution service, newspapers tap third-party couriers or agents to deliver and sell their newspapers across the Philippines. Air shipping is the preferred method to distribute newspapers across the archipelagic country, composed of 7,641 islands.

9.2 - Radio Distribution Networks – All radio stations in the Philippines are required to obtain a franchise from Congress in order to operate. Upon obtaining a legislative franchise, they need to secure permits including a certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN) from the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), which is under the executive branch led by the Philippine president. Pending the grant of the CPCN, the NTC may issue a provisional authority, for a limited period, to a qualified applicant to operate and maintain a broadcast station.

Frequencies are considered finite resources by the government, which is why not all franchise holders can immediately broadcast on television and radio unless they are allocated their own frequencies. For example, in the National Capital Region there are only 30 AM radio frequencies and 25 frequencies in the FM band as of June 2023.  

In securing a broadcast franchise, there is always a potential for political influence as demonstrated by what happened to ABS-CBN, which failed to renew its franchise in 2020 during the administration of former president Rodrigo Duterte. Duterte is arguably the first politician to publicly threaten to block the franchise renewal of the network for airing a paid advertisement against him during the 2016 elections by his staunch critic Antonio Trillanes and hurling erroneous claims such as improper payment of taxes.

Several lawmakers, such as SAGIP Party-list Rep. Rodante Marcoleta, in the House of Representatives, where applications for broadcast franchises originate, opposed the network’s franchise renewal due to various allegations such as unpaid taxes even when officials from the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and Securities and Exchange Commission repeatedly cleared the network of any tax liability.

Among the top 11 radio stations, four are known to have political affiliations or directly operated by the government. Radyo Pilipinas UNO DZRB 738, the flagship AM radio station of the Philippine Broadcast Service-Bureau of Broadcast Services (PBS-BBS), is under the control of the Presidential Communications Office (PCO), the communications or de facto propaganda arm of the Philippine president.

The religious group Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC), which owns DZEC Radyo Agila 1602, is known for endorsing candidates and bloc voting in Philippine elections. In the last two presidential elections in 2016 and 2022, both of its endorsed candidates —immediate past president Rodrigo Duterte and his successor Ferdinand Marcos Jr.— won. As of the latest government census in 2020, 2,806,524 Filipinos, or 2.6% of the 108,667,043 total population, are members of INC.

Prime Media Holdings, Inc., which jointly owns with ABS-CBN Corporation the AM radio station DWPM 630 and cable channel TeleRadyo Serbisyo, is said to be owned by the family of House Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, cousin of President Marcos. However, corporate documents of Prime Media do not list Romualdez or other known relatives as officers or shareholders, although at least one corporate officer is his fraternity brother.

Brigada Mass Media Production, which owns Brigada News FM, also has political links through Catulpos and Balleque, who have both forayed into politics.

9.3 - Television Distribution Networks – Similar to radio stations, all television stations are required to obtain a legislative franchise from Congress and secure a CPCN and other permits from the NTC to operate. A provisional authority may also be issued pending the NTC’s approval of a CPCN.

Five television stations are known to have affiliations with the government: People’s Television-4 (PTV-4), A2Z, CNN Philippines, Net 25 and UNTV.

People’s Television Network, Inc., the operator of state-owned People’s Television-4 (PTV-4), is operated by the PBS-BBS, which is under the control of the Philippine president’s de facto propaganda arm PCO.

Zoe Broadcasting Network, Inc., which operates A2Z, is owned by Christian religious group leader and House Rep. Eduardo “Eddie” Villanueva. Hi’s son Joel is also an incumbent senator.

The Nine Media Corporation, operator of CNN Philippines, holds 34.2% shares in Radio Philippines Network, Inc. (RPN), which is formerly a state-owned radio-television entity. Although RPN has been privatized in 2011, the government still co-owns the network.

Although they are not owned by the government or any politicians, Net 25 and UNTV produce shows hosted by lawmakers and police officers, respectively.

9.4 - Internet Distribution Networks All telecommunication companies in the Philippines are required to obtain a legislative franchise from Congress and secure a CPCN and other permits from NTC to operate. The NTC may also issue a provisional authority pending the grant of CPCN. Meanwhile, companies that provide value added services, including internet service providers (ISPs), only need to secure the appropriate certificates and requirements from NTC.

As of December 2023, the PLDT, Globe, and DITO Telecommunity are the only telecommunication companies in the country. Meanwhile, there are 776 ISPs, including the three telecommunication companies, in the Philippines based on NTC’s list as of August 2023.  

Davao City-based businessman Dennis Uy, chairman of Dito, which officially entered the telecommunication market dominated by the duopoly of PLDT and Globe in March 2021, is a known close friend of former president Rodrigo Duterte, who personally awarded the CPCN to the company in an event in Malacanang Palace in 2019 and approved the renewal of its legislative franchise in 2021. Uy, who served as presidential adviser for sports of Duterte, donated PhP30 million (US$527,834) for his friend’s presidential campaign during the 2016 elections. Salvador T. Medialdea, an independent director of Dito since July 2023, served as executive secretary of Duterte during his term (June 2016 to June 2022).

In June 2022, on the last month of Duterte’s term, the government’s influence over ISPs was tested when then-national security adviser Hermogenes Esperon requested the NTC to order telecommunication companies to block public access to the websites of alternative online media outlets Bulatlat and Pinoy Weekly, the Communist Party of the Philippines and 23 other organizations with alleged links to communist rebels. Bulatlat’s website is now accessible after the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 306 blocked the enforcement of NTC’s order in August 2023.  

Meanwhile, most media outlets are free to use social media to disseminate their news reports. Except in the case of the Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI) News Channel and its program “Laban Kasama ang Bayan” when YouTube took down their original channels in July 2023 due to alleged community violations, which came after a gaming vlogger raised the pending criminal charges in the United States of the network’s founder and honorary chairman Apollo C. Quiboloy.

SMNI News and Laban Kasama ang Bayan have since created new YouTube channels, but have yet to regain the over 1.7 million and 100,000 subscribers in their original accounts, respectively.

8.5 - Service providers in the advertising market
There is a lack of data that can be used to assess political control among leading advertising firms. When it comes to managing advertising agencies, Section 11, Article XVI of the 1987 Philippine Constitution provides that only Filipinos can serve as executives and managers of such firms. Only advertising agencies 70% owned by Filipinos may operate.

8.6 - Audience measurement services
There is no data that can be used to assess political control among leading audience measurement firms in the country. Some of the well-known survey firms are Nielsen and Kantar Media.  

Score: Low Risk

LOW (1)MEDIUM (2)HIGH (3)
POLITICISATION OF INFRASTRUCTURE
9.1How would you assess the conduct of the leading distribution networks for print media?
Leading distribution networks are not politically affiliated or do not take discriminatory actions.At least one of the leading distribution networks is politically affiliated or takes occasional discriminatory actions.All of the leading distribution networks are politically affiliated and has a record of repeated discriminatory actions.
9.2How would you assess the conduct of the leading radio distribution networks? NA
Leading distribution networks are not politically affiliated or do not take discriminatory actions.At least one of the leading distribution networks is politically affiliated or takes occasional discriminatory actions.All of the leading distribution networks are politically affiliated and has a record of repeated discriminatory actions.
9.3How would you assess the conduct of the leading television distribution networks? 
Leading distribution networks are not politically affiliated or do not take discriminatory actions.At least one of the leading distribution networks is politically affiliated or takes occasional discriminatory actions. All of the leading distribution networks are politically affiliated and has a record of repeated discriminatory actions. 
9.4How would you assess the conduct of the leading internet distribution networks?
Leading distribution networks are not politically affiliated or do not take discriminatory actions.At least one of the leading distribution networks is politically affiliated or takes occasional discriminatory actions.All of the leading distribution networks are politically affiliated and has a record of repeated discriminatory actions.
9.5How would you assess the conduct of the leading service providers in the advertising market?        No Data
There is no indication that major commercial advertising agencies / sales houses would discriminate against independent media.At least one of the leading commercial advertising agencies / sales houses discriminates against independent media due to political affiliations (despite having a significant audience share).Independent news media don’t have access to commercial advertising agencies / sales houses discriminating against independent media due to political affiliations (despite having a significant audience share).
9.6How would you assess the conduct of the leading audience measurement services?
Audience measurement services are in practice available to all relevant market players and comply with industry standards; transparency, non-discrimination, proportionality, objectivity and inclusiveness of the methodology and the service is guaranteed.At least one of the leading audience measurement services raises concerns related to transparency, non-discrimination, proportionality, objectivity, and/or inclusiveness. All of the leading audience measurement services raise concerns related to transparency, non-discrimination, proportionality, objectivity, and/or inclusiveness.

State Control Over Media Resources

Result: Medium Risk

This indicator assesses the influence of the state on the functioning of the media market, through control over public funds and resources, with an emphasis on the risk of discrimination in the distribution of state support and advertisement. The discrimination can be reflected in favouritism towards political parties or affiliates of political parties in the government, or in penalising the media criticising the government.

  • State advertising should be understood as any advertising paid by governments (national, regional, local) and state-owned institutions and companies.
  • Direct state support/subsidies are forms of support that have a predetermined monetary value and include a transfer of funds to news producers (including grants or interest-free loans), excluding the PSM.
  • Indirect state support/subsidies do not include a transfer of funds to news producers, and, in most cases, do not have a predetermined monetary value (such as tax exemptions or reductions, reduced distribution costs, or reduced social security contributions).
  • Disclaimer: Spectrum allocation can be considered a state-controlled resource, but we opted to include it in the previous indicator (D.9) on political control over infrastructure, as it is the key means of distributing radio content. Including it in this indicator as well, would have led to double-counting.

Why?

10.1 - Under the Government Procurement Reform Act, procurement of all goods and services – including advertising space – should undergo public bidding. This aims at preventing State advertising from being distributed exclusively to few media outlets but spent in the public interest. These regulations are, however, hardly enforced or implemented. Government agencies are required to publish bids on their websites and in newspapers of general circulation – which is not done. The Commission of Audit (CoA) is obliged to disclose those bidding processes and justify how state funding is spent – which is also not done. The objective of state advertising is to disseminate information to the general public. Audience share is not a criterion for state advertising.10.2 - The evaluation of the rules governing the distribution of state advertising in the Philippines reveals a notable gap in specificity, raising questions about transparency and fairness in the allocation of government advertising across media outlets. Currently, the existing regulations primarily focus on public bidding for the supply of goods and services, leaving a void in terms of guidelines for the distribution or allocation of state advertising among different media channels. The rules, while comprehensive in addressing procurement processes for goods and services, fall short of providing explicit directives for the advertising sector. Instead, they primarily outline procedures for entities interested in supplying goods or services to the government through a competitive tendering process. This lack of dedicated guidelines for state advertising distribution raises concerns about the potential for ambiguity, favoritism, or lack of a standardized approach in allocating government advertisements.10.3-10.6 - In the Philippines, the landscape of advertising expenditure diverges significantly from the presence of substantial state advertising. Unlike in some other countries, state advertising is not a prominent aspect of the media economy in the Philippines. There are even occasions when networks will provide free airtime for state announcements, especially during emergencies or when the country is in a state of calamity. tInstead, the advertising arena is primarily driven by multinationals and large corporations, which allocate significant budgets to promote their products and services. These entities outpace the government in terms of advertising spending, shaping the media industry's financial dynamics. Consequently, the absence of substantial state advertising underscores the reliance on private sector investments to sustain and propel the advertising sector in the country. This distinctive feature reflects a media environment where commercial interests wield substantial influence in shaping the messaging and content disseminated through various channels.10.7 - The government does not directly support media other than state media. However, most mainstream media are funded by political interests, with politicians and government officials buying segments of airtime, known as “block timing” to broadcast their own shows. 10.8 - There are no media-specific rules on the allocation of indirect state subsidies in the Philippines.10.9 - There is a state-financed news agency in the country that is accessible to all news media under the same conditions. Among the government media channels are People’s Television Network Inc. (PTNI), the Philippine Broadcasting System (PBS), and the Philippine News Agency (PNA). Government-controlled media outlets are generally accessible to other media outlets in the Philippines. Being a state-owned network, it operates under the government’s jurisdiction of providing public service broadcasting. Although media outlets have access to the state-financed news agency, some information may be biased. According to State Media Monitor, state-controlled media in the Philippines such as PTV is closely supervised by the administration. Generally, while other media outlets may access PTV4 and RTVM’s content for news purposes, most of the media outlets in the Philippines have their way of providing news coverage to Filipino audiences.The only time that private media outlets rely on the state-financed agency is when there are events not open for coverage such as presidential visits and engagements, major summits, conferences, and meetings.10.10 - The People’s Television Network, Inc. (PTV4), the Philippine News Agency (PNA), the Philippine Information Agency (PIA), and the Philippine Broadcasting Service (Radyo Pilipinas) are under the umbrella of the Presidential Communications Office, which is part of the Office of the President. The funding model of state-run media outlets is fully funded by government revenues. These state-owned media receive annual budgetary allocations from the General Appropriations Acts. In a report from the State Media Monitor, fluctuations in the income of PTV4 can be observed as it is dependent on the government. However, the state continues to cover most of the expenditure and losses of state media outlets in the Philippines.10.11 - From the State Media Monitor, The People’s Television Network is officially run by People’s Television Network, Inc. (PTNI) operating under the Presidential Communications Office. PTNI is led by the five members of the board who are appointed by the President of the Philippines. However, rules on appointment are not clear which enables political influence and motivation.

Score: Medium Risk

LOW (1)MEDIUM (2)HIGH (3)
10.1Is state advertising distributed to media proportionately to their audience share? 
State advertising is distributed to the media relatively proportionately to the audience shares of media.State advertising is distributed disproportionately (in terms of audience share) to the media. State advertising is distributed exclusively to few media outlets, which do not cover all major media outlets in the country.
10.2How would you assess the rules of distribution of state advertising?
State advertising is distributed to media outlets based on fair and transparent rules.State advertising is distributed to media outlets based on a set of rules but it is unclear whether they are fair and transparent.There are no rules regarding distribution of state advertising to media outlets or these are not transparent and/or fair.
IMPORTANCE OF STATE ADVERTISING
10.3

What is the share of state advertising as part of the overall Television advertising market?

VALUE: N/A

Share of state advertising is <5% of the overall marketShare of state advertising is 5%-10% of the overall marketShare of state advertising is > 10% of the overall market
10.4

What is the share of state advertising as part of the overall Radio advertising market?

VALUE: M/D

Share of state advertising is <5% of the overall market.Share of state advertising is 5%-10% of the overall market.Share of state advertising is > 10% of the overall market.
10.5

What is the share of state advertising as part of the overall Newspaper advertising market?

VALUE: N/A

 

Share of state advertising is <5% of the overall market.Share of state advertising is 5%-10% of the overall market.Share of state advertising is > 10% of the overall market.
10.6

What is the share of state advertising as part of the overall Online news media advertising market (without amounts spent on news intermediaries)?

VALUE: N/A

Share of state advertising is <5% of the overall market.Share of state advertising is 5%-10% of the overall market.Share of state advertising is > 10% of the overall market.
10.7Is direct financial support distributed fairly, transparently and based on clear rules? N/A
There are clear rules on the allocation of direct state subsidies and, in practice, subsidies are transparently and fairly allocated (criteria may not only be based on market share, but also public interest content, underserved communities, the need for innovation, etc.)The rules on the allocation of direct state subsidies are either not clear or the process of allocation lacks sufficient transparency or shows signs of political bias.There are no rules on the allocation of direct state subsidies and/or the allocation of subsidies is opaque and/or clearly discriminatory.
10.8Is indirect financial support distributed fairly, transparently and based on clear rules? N/A
There are clear rules on the allocation of indirect state subsidies and, in practice, access to indirect subsidies is transparent and fair.The rules on the allocation of indirect state subsidies are either not clear or the process of allocation lacks sufficient transparency or shows signs of political bias.There are no rules on the allocation of indirect state subsidies and/or the allocation of indirect subsidies is opaque and/or clearly discriminatory.
10.9Do all media outlets have access to the state-financed news agency, and do they receive quality content relevant for their news production?
There is a state-financed news agency in the country that is accessible to all news media under the same (and fair) conditions, providing objective, well-sourced information.There are some concerns related to access to the state financed news agency or possible bias in the content provided.Access to the state-owned news agency causes unnecessary burden for some news media and/or its content is biased.
10.10Do you consider the financing of the PSM independent and adequate?
The financing of the PSM is adequate, without distorting competition with private media; and the process includes sufficient guarantees against political dependencies (e.g. through licence fees)?The financing of the PSM is insufficient or could distort competition with private media; and the funding process may enable political dependencies?The financing is insufficient to a degree that quality journalism is not or hardly possible and/or the funding process is clearly under political control.
10.11How do you assess the independence of the appointment and dismissal process of the PSM management?
There are clear rules on the appointment and dismissal of the PSM management, independence from political actors is guaranteed; and in practice appointments and dismissal decisions are made based on professional considerations.Appointment and dismissal rules of PSM management may allow for some political influence and/or the practice of appointments and dismissals shows signs of bias.Rules on appointment and dismissal of PSM management clearly enable political influence and/or appointments and/or dismissals are clearly politically motivated.

Regulatory Safeguards: Net Neutrality

Risk: High Risk

Network neutrality is the principle that all data on networks should be treated equally by not discriminating or charging differently in terms of users, content, sites or applications. Protecting net neutrality is essential to safeguarding media diversity because it guarantees equal ability to access and disseminate information, opinions, perspectives, etc. online, which is essential to media diversity. This indicator aims to capture the landscape of legal regulation of net neutrality as well as the specific regulatory mechanisms that address net neutrality.

Why?

  • There are currently no specific net neutrality laws, policies, or regulations in the Philippines.
  • There is a single provision (Sec. 23 - Equality of Treatment in the Telecommunications Industry) in Republic Act No. 7925, also known as the Public Telecommunications Act of 1992, that tackles net neutrality, but it is insufficient. There are pending bills in Congress to enact a separate net neutrality law.
  • The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has issued a directive pursuant to the provision in RA 7925 that expresses net neutrality, but is likewise not sufficient.  For example, the NTC extended the validity of prepaid services in [2018] to get the full value of the load until it is consumed.
  • When it comes to blocking of websites, there is the case of alternative media outlets Bulatlat and Pinoy Weekly, which were ordered blocked by the NTC for their alleged links with communist rebels. A Quezon City Regional Trial Court nullified the website blocking order of the NTC, which was based on the request of former national security adviser Hermogenes Esperon.
  • Republic Act No. 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, had a provision on blocking websites but the Supreme Court struck that down in 2014 due to petitions filed by various groups such as journalists, lawyers and lawmakers.  

 

Score: 3 = High Risk (30%)

NET NEUTRALITYDescriptionYesNoNAMD
Does national law address net neutrality directly or indirectly?neutrality is regulated by domestic law in any way; it also aims to reflect any agreement between countries, as in the EU and countries that are part of the Council of Europe.0.5
Does national law contain norms that prohibit blocking of websites or content online?This question determines the degree to which a country’s net neutrality norms prevent blocking, one of the key components of a robust net neutrality framework0.5
Does national law contain norms that prohibit throttling of services or content provided online?This question determines the degree to which a country’s net neutrality norms prevent throttling, one of the key components of a robust net neutrality framework0
Does national law contain norms that prohibit zero-rating and/or paid prioritization?This question determines the degree to which a country’s net neutrality norms prevent zero-rating (of which paid prioritization is a common form), one of the key components of a robust net neutrality framework0
Where net neutrality is protected by law, does the legal framework recognize any exceptions, e.g. for reasonable network management?This question establishes when reasonable limits are placed on net neutrality protections versus other limits that may undermine its effectiveness.0.5
Norms that prohibit or limit zero-rating are successfully implemented: Paid prioritization does not take place.This question aims to flesh out the extent to which paid prioritization occurs in practice despite its prohibition in law; a number of countries with ostensibly strong zero-rating protections experience this phenomenon. This indicator may shed light on the degree of difference between law and practices on the ground0
Norms that prohibit or limit zero-rating are successfully implemented: No other forms of zero-rating take place.Same as aboveX
Norms are successfully implemented: Blocking and/or throttling do not take place.This question seeks to determine how the legal framework in place to protect net neutrality operates in practice with respect to blocking and throttling 0.5
Are there regulatory or other entities charged with monitoring and enforcing net neutrality protections?This question highlights whether there are authorities charged with enforcing net neutrality protections 0.5
Have sanctions been imposed for violations of net neutrality protections where these exist?This question may illustrate the extent to which violations of net neutrality norms are taken seriously as a matter of rule of law and political will0.5
Are the enforcement mechanisms in place to identify and respond to net neutrality violations viewed as effective?This question shows the extent to which net neutrality norms actually achieve their goals 0
Total (Mean of L-e und L-I sub-indicators)                   3

Should the Philippines Adopt Net Neutrality Regulation? (2023), Accessed on 04 December 2023

Gender Imbalance in the Media Industry

Result: Medium Risk

This indicator assesses the representation of women in news media, focusing on relevant newsroom policies and the share of women in management positions.

Why?

In the Philippines, at least half of the media sky is being held up by women. The Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) quotes a 2011 study by the International Women’s’ Media Foundation (IWMF) that 50% of Filipino women journalists “are at parity with men in middle management, which includes senior editors and chiefs of correspondence.”

  • In media boardrooms, women are in decision-making positions:
    Marixi Prieto is Chairman of the Board of Inquirer Holdings, Inc., which owns the Philippine Daily Inquirer. Her daughter, Ma. Alexandra “Sandy” Prieto-Romualdez is the CEO.
    Maria Georgina Perez-De Venecia is the independent director of the Manila Bulletin.
    Maria Ressa is the co-founder and CEO of Rappler.
    Maria Farah Z.G. Nicolas-Suchianco is the president/chairperson and 100% owner of Broadreach Media Holdings, Inc., the ultimate parent company of Nine Media Corporation which owns CNN Philippines.
  • A quick look at the newsrooms of top media companies shows women in the position of deciding what stories are to be consumed by the public:
    Luchi Cruz-Valdes, head of TV5 News and Information;
    Ana Marie Pamintuan, editor-in-chief, Philippine Star;
    Glenda Gloria, executive editor and Natashya Gutierrez, president, Rappler;
    Carol Arguillas, Mindanao Times;
    Frances B. Toral, head of ABS-CBN Integrated News & Current Affairs.

Toral succeeded Regina “Ging” Reyes, who won the public’s admiration with her calm and firm courage amid pressure from former president Rodrigo Duterte and his allies which led to the shutdown of the television giant network in 2020.


Even during the repressive years of Martial Law under Marcos, women were at the forefront of delivering information to the public and played a big role in the ouster of the dictator. Lourdes “Chuchay” Fernandez, the first female editor- in -chief in Philippine media industry, steered the alternative newspaper, Ang Pahayagang Malaya (The Free newspaper), under the most challenging situation when its sister newspaper, We Forum, was shut down, the publisher and columnists were arrested for publishing a story about the fake war medals of Marcos.
Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc, editor-in-chief of the Philippine Daily Inquirer from 1991 until she died in 2015, is being helped in the media community for standing up to powers-that-be who attempt to control media.

The Philippine media landscape continues to be risky. Correspondents in the provinces face greater danger away from the national attention. Julie Alipala, Inquirer’s Western Mindanao correspondent, continues to do her work amid harassment from the state as well as a civilian lawless element in the area.
Journalist Frenchie Mae Cumpio, in her mid-20s, continues to be in prison almost four years after her arrest for alleged illegal possession of firearms.

Women journalists Shine amid Challenging Situations
Almost all news programs in all TV and radio programs have women anchors. A number of popular talk shows and TV magazine shows are hosted by women.
It is also worth mentioning that the National Telecommunications Commission, which regulates TV and radio licenses is headed by a woman: Commissioner Ella Bianca B. Lopez.

Women journalists under the Duterte Administration
Generally speaking, the political leadership is often wary of the role of the media as a watchdog. Women journalists continue to experience harassment.
The worst perpetrator was former Rodrigo Duterte, who has labeled media as an enemy and has declared to “kill journalism” early in his presidency from 2016 to 2022. During press conferences, he would either flirt with or verbally insult women reporters. His active online trolls also targeted women journalists with insults and death threats.
Nobel laureate Maria Ressa and Rappler had been a target of Duterte’s harassment.

Women journalists under the Marcos Jr. Administration
Marcos is not Duterte but NUJP has documented 47 incidents of press freedom violations from June 30, 2022 to March 8, 2023, with 14 incidents involving women journalists. As the CMFR observes, “While these numbers don’t specify gender-based attacks, they highlight the dual risk of women in the media: as women and as truth-tellers.”

Score: Medium Risk

LOW (1)MEDIUM (2)HIGH (3)
12.1Do the leading news media in your country have a policy aiming at a balanced representation of women in the newsroom?
Most leading news media have a gender equality policy or other kinds of self-regulatory measures to make sure that there is adequate representation of women in the newsrooms and in management positions. Moreover, there are mechanisms at place to make sure women in the newsroom don’t encounter harassment or discrimination.Some news media have a gender equality policy or other kinds of self-regulatory measures to make sure that there is adequate representation of women in the newsrooms and in management positions. In these news media, there are mechanisms at place to make sure women in the newsroom don’t encounter harassment or discrimination.There is no gender equality policy in the newsrooms assessed, or they are not effective, leading to discrimination and harassment of female journalists.
12.2Are women journalists subject to harassment or online/ offline violence in your country?
The working environment of women journalists is safe, harassment online or offline is not common, sufficient safeguards are in place.Both men and women are harassed to a similar extent, (physical) violence against female journalists is not common.Cases of violence are reported and harassment of women journalists is common in the country, with many known and reported cases. Women are considered to be more targeted by harassment and violence than men.
12.3

What is the share of women among owners of leading news media?


VALUE TV: 2/10 = 20%

VALUE Radio: 3/11 = 27.27%

VALUE Print: 9/14 = 64.28%

VALUE Online: 4/11% = 36.36%

Average of VALUES: 36.97%
40 percent or moreBetween 39 and 30 percentLess than 30 percent
12.4

What is the share of women among founders of news media?

VALUE TV: 0/10 = 0

VALUE Radio: 0/11 = 0

VALUE Print: 5/14 = 35.71%

VALUE Online: 1/11 = 9%

Average of VALUES: 11.17%

40 percent or moreBetween 39 and 30 percentLess than 30 percent
12.5

What is the share of women amongst top managers of news media (such as editor-in-chief or CEO)?

GMA for Atty. Anna Teresa M. Gozon-Valdes, Judith R. Duavit-Vazquez, Ms. Laura J. Westfall - 3/10 = 30%
ABS-CBN (no women) = 0/11 = 0
TV5 (from SEC) for Jane Basas, Marife Zamora, Estrelita G. Gacutan - 3/10 = 30%
A2Z (from SEC) for Virginia Jose, Genoveva Mendoza, Carmencita Tobias, Virgie Hernandez, Aida Castro - 5/10 = 50%

Average of VALUES: 27.5

40 percent or moreBetween 39 and 30 percentLess than 30 percent
12.6

What is the share of women in key editorial positions in the newsroom (such as leading editors below the level of editor-in-chief or department heads at television stations)? 

VALUE TV:  2 out of 10 = 20%

VALUE RADIO: 3 out of 11 = 27%

VALUE PRINT: 4 out of 14 = 28.5%

VALUE ONLINE: 3 out of 11 = 27%

Average of Values: 25.6%

40 percent or moreBetween 39 and 30 percentLess than 30 percent
12.7

What is the share of women in key (board) positions in the newsroom (meaning non-editorial management positions, such as chief financial officer, head of sales and marketing, etc.)? 

VALUE TV: 5/10 = 50%

VALUE Radio: 4/11 = 36.36%

VALUE Print: 8/14 = 57.14%

VALUE Online: 5/11 = 45.45%

Average of VALUES: 47.24%

40 percent or moreBetween 39 and 30 percentLess than 30 percent

Women in media: Ten women killed for their work as journalists (1990-2014) (2015), Accessed 20 December 2023
Strong record of empowerment: The feminist movement in PH media (2023), Accessed 20 December 2023
Attacks and harassment: Women journalists in the Philippines on the cost of truth-telling (2020), Accessed 20 December 2023
Women in Media in the Philippines, Doreen G. Fernandez in Media Asia (1987), Accessed 20 December 2023
Suporta ng masa, susi sa tagumpay ng ‘mosquito press’ (2023), Accessed 8 January 2024
Three years in detention, Frenchie Mae Cumpio inspires new breed of journalists (2023), Accessed 8 January 2024

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