#TheFilipinoDecides2016: Election Day Broadcasting Insights

As of press time, it's three days before Election Day and most of you wonder how the election coverage will go on free TV?

It’s three days before Election Day and most of you wonder how the election coverage will go on free TV?

THIS MONDAY (MAY 9) is Judgment Day for the Republic of the Philippines: Election Day (E-Day). 54.4 million registered voters will take part and flock to the polling stations to cast the ballot on who will be the 16th President and his/her Vice President.

For Philippine television observers and recorders, this day will mark the biggest assessment and battle of broadcasting technology, set design, impartiality of their news delivery and coverage continuity for each participating network.

The general picture

Generally, this will be a news marathon of 31 hours or sometimes longer, lasting from 5 a.m. on E-Day Monday until noon of Tuesday. Hence, no sign off will certainly happen in almost all networks during late and wee hours of May 9-10 for the quick count. Children’s programming, where available on free-to-air TV, is normally suspended or reduced for the valid and justified reason.

Come 5 p.m. or later (if the Commission on Elections agreed to declare an extension), the PCOS machine’s data will be transmitted electronically to transparency servers of the COMELEC and the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) after printing the receipt of the final results.

Throughout the night, the updates of the results for President, Vice President, and Senators will be provided by PPCRV as “partial” and “unofficial” quick count. Party-list results are not broadcast on TV but are displayed on their respective websites, official social media accounts and mobile applications.

In a few days, the senatorial, congressional and local winners will be proclaimed. The proclamation and allocation of party-list seats will be decided by COMELEC in PICC.

The two highest offices in the land — the President and Vice President — will be proclaimed afterwards in Batasang Pambansa, as prescribed by its prevailing laws including the 1987 Constitution (the supreme and fundamental law of the land).

The Turf assesses each network

From sign-on come Monday until the end of the coverage, most of the readers will ask to the Turf, “How will each broadcaster behave on E-Day Monday?” Here is how the comprehensive response of each of them:

  • ABS-CBN (Halalan 2016: Ipanalo ang Pamilyang Pilipino). In the past elections, in 2010 and in 2013, Channel 2 aired It’s Showtime, making the electoral coverage no longer served a marathon; this year, it can certainly happen again. It is certain that their Primetime Bida block will continue on E-Night as long as they should employ the lower third graphics for updates in the tally in national positions. Last January 2014, Studio 23 became ABS-CBN Sports+Action and that will face a dilemma. Aside from the channel name change, the NBA games for E-Day will be the continuation of the Conference Semifinals — Atlanta Hawks vs. Cleveland Cavaliers (Eastern) and Oklahoma City Thunder vs. San Antonio Spurs (Western). However, the UHF channel served as a buffer zone during the committed entertainment hours. Overall, Mother Ignacia will have a difficult time to manage an all-out simulcast of their broadcasting assets. The free-to-air coverage will end at 11:30 a.m. of Tuesday.
  • GMA (Eleksyon 2016 or simply, E16). GMA is praised for their consistency of their credible news coverage but in 2013, GMA 7 and GMA News TV 11 covered the election news separately rather than simulcast. This year, the separate coverage may prevail again but we should not be surprised for apathy in Strata 2000 with regular programming despite of studio design setup specializing on this momentous day. If the warning of no simulcast comes true, Gozon is still defending not to learn from its competitors. If Eat Bulaga on Channel 7 will air during Election Day like what happened in 2013, it would be certain that KalyeSerye will continue and that may distract a sector of first-time registered voters belonging to AlDub/MaiDen Nation and may lessen the influx of voters in the precincts during 2-3 p.m. hour. Not to mention, the hashtag assigned for that day may be No. 1 in the trending list than the election-related one instead. Their Telebabad will be 50-50 on whether they will air it or not but if they do, they must update their tally as possible in their lower thirds.
  • TV5 (Bilang Pilipino). In 2013, their last election coverage, Pagbabago 2013, was awarded by the 2nd Social TV Awards in the United States, thanks to their all-out reach from TV, radio, web and mobile. In 2016, it is very certain that they will simulcast the coverage and do the same outreach. TV5 will cover Bilang Pilipino uninterrupted for 28 hours (beginning 5 a.m.) — i.e. no entertainment and information programs not related to elections. However, we may expect their potential disgust from netizens on the lack of a certain personality on journalistic professionalism — specifically, Jun Sabayton — during the coverage.
  • CNN Philippines (The Filipino Votes). In the last election (2013) as Solar News Channel, it was barely heard and seen on the UHF channel 21. Like the last one, we should not expect to see much of set design except the titles and interstitials. This 2016, for the first time as a news channel on the VHF Channel 9, we will see how presenters will reinforce their composure as the news breaks in but keep in mind of entertainers masquerading as journalists (EMAJs) to expose more hours in the E-Day marathon. Like what happened in 2013, we will expect the MBC-DZRH exit poll within an hour or two after the poll closing. Their election marathon will end on Tuesday at 1:00 p.m. (32 hours).
  • Media ng Bayan (Hatol ng Bayan 2016). This media consortium is least attentive to viewers, thanks to the shocking assessment of necessary elements of coverage; this include few broadcast vehicles (lack of live OB vans), nearly outdated broadcasting equipment and inexpensive intangibles (such as broadcasting software). To be honest, their graphics are neither powered by ORAD nor VizRT (unlike the Big 3) but on the measly Adobe Premiere Pro & After Effects and Microsoft PowerPoint. This consortium will be IBC 13’s last election coverage – specifically, the last TV simulcast — under the hands of the National Government before privatization and we know that Old Balara cannot do it alone for obvious reasons. For those who are asking if there will be the Lotto draw on E-Day at 9:00 p.m., the answer is YES; there will still be the PCSO Lotto Draw, making a 15-minute break from becoming a continuous news marathon.
  • Other free-to-air national networks that are owned and/or influenced by religious denominations in the UHF with a news division such as NET 25 (Iglesia ni Cristo), Light Network 33 (Jesus is Lord Movement), UNTV 37 (Members Church of God, International) and SMNI 39 (Kingdom of Jesus Christ) are prone to their biases to their endorsements.
  • Regional networks (such as CLTV 36) will devote more on the results of their geographical service as they’ll summarize the tally in the national positions.

That being said, throughout E-Day on Monday until Tuesday or longer, we will not monitor only the votes of the people but every move of each TV network it will play and to all Filipinos, the power is all NOW in your hands.

Pilipinas, kinabukasan ay nasa ating kamay.

Like Timow’s Turf on Facebook and discuss on reddit.

[Photo courtesy of COMELEC]



    1. I heard about it and it is a good decision for TAPE and GMA. Having it air tomorrow would benefit Tito Sotto even more votes to be the topnotcher of this senatorial election with such indirect advantage. Aside from that, it could make a significant staunch criticism in Twitter when the AlDub hashtag topped the trending list instead of the election-themed for “not caring about the national happenings.”

      It’s looks like ABS-CBN will stay to the commitment to continue It’s Showtime tomorrow because they are nearly ending the first Tawag ng Tanghalan in the 21st century.

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