2013 Elections Coverage Review | ABS-CBN, GMA-7, TV5, Solar News: Who fared best?

Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of VoicePoints.

ABS-CBN Halalan 2013: 2013 Midterm Elections Coverage

TV5 Pagbabago 2013

Solar News Elections 2013

To read full review, go to Media Newser Philippines

The two-day election coverage of the networks began on Monday morning with different approaches but with the same goal: to be the most buzzed-about coverage of the season.

Election is one of those monumental events in the industry that will make or break a news organization.

For the past elections, viewers were given with only two options: ABS-CBN and GMA-7. It wasn't until the last election where TV5 was able to successfully penetrate the race. Joining the crowded race this year is the new kid on the block Solar News.

The GMA network reportedly allocated 91 million for this coverage alone. 

ABS-CBN Integrated News and Current Affairs did two separate coverages: one for the Channel 2 viewers or the "masang viewers," the other on ANC which was targeted to the upper and middle class or the same target audience as that of Solar News Channel.

This year, GMA News and Public Affairs had the most media partners, making an impression that they're offering the biggest and most comprehensive election coverage of the season.

To start, there was a sense of nationalism in the network's Eleksyon 2013 coverage. Originating in the grand Studio 7, home of Party Pilipinas, the studio was transformed in a two-level election set.

Part of the gimmick this year was the so-called election hub and social media hub which brought some excitement to the coverage. Add to the glossy set was this huge runway-like platform where they utilized the augmented reality graphics.
While we give a high mark to the network for a very ambitious concept as Eleksyon 2013, the coverage fell short of our expectations. For one, the set design somewhat gave us a gameshow feel. Too much colors, bad lighting and distracting production design.

On Twitter and forums, viewers gave them a low mark for what they put up in this election visually, some with whom we actually agree:

There's more research and work that should've done to perfect the use of augmented reality technology. Those with a good eye will notice that it lags every time the camera zooms in and out. Check out the video below:

One story that made waves during election day was the standoff in Cavite. ABS-CBN secured the first interview with Bong Revilla with its reporter Chiara Zambrano on the scene. On GMA-7, Ian Cruz did all the work, while Jeff Caparas did the reporting for TV5. ABS-CBN also scored an interview with PNP Chief Supt. Generoso Cerbo Jr. getting his take on the standoff.

ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC) offered more substance and had long-form interviews with election experts and key players. In fact, it was ANC anchors Ron Cruz and Gigi Grande who did most of the meaty discussions among the ANC newsers. 

One interview that's worth noting was Gigi Grande's smart conversation slash mini-debate with Rep. Toby Tiangco, spokesperson for Team UNA and Rep. Miro Quimbo, spokesperson for Team PNoy on Dateline Philippines. The interview which lasted for 30 minutes gave us Grande at her best persistent in asking the right questions and engaging to carefully handle two opposing views. From then on, they debate on which of the two political parties have an endorsement power come 2016, and also discussed the Conditional Cash Transfer program which both congressman agree on as a short-term "pantawid" program only. See video below:

One essential part of the coverage was the considerable use of social media. ABS-CBN and its news channel ANC held their own in utilizing it as part of the coverage with the likes of TJ Manotoc, Boyet Sison and Lexi Schulze acting as social media correspondents. They also highlighted their strong campaign Bayan Mo, iPatrol Mo, featuring the Bayan Patrollers, emphasizing that the network was "first" in this citizen and social media campaigns. 

On Solar News Channel, social media didn't become an integral part of the coverage. Instead they devoted more time on discussions and to make up for that, they had popular blogger Noem Lardizabal of Blogwatch Citizens Media as one of their many guests.

It's also worth noting that SNC was the only network that devoted time in discussing the role of the media in this election. High marks should be given to them for having CMFR's Melinda Quintos De Jesus and Vergel Santos. De Jesus, a media watchdog herself, praised Solar News for its election coverage specifically their Town Hall series.

Among the networks, it was GMA-7 which had the strongest social media coverage. They even organized their own chatroom in Google Hangout (renaming it E13 Hangout) and focused on the trending topics and hashtags on Twitter that developed throughout the run of the election.

The third-rated Kapatid Network, meanwhile, took the coverage as an opportunity to boost their news organization's online portal InterAksyon.com. The site's editor-in-chief Roby Alampay was also given a prominent role in this election coverage.  

Other than that, there's also the launching of LTE or the Long Term Evolution technology powered by SMART. While it's not really that impressive given the many technologies available out there, LTE made it possible for News5 reporters to report from different regions without those traditional cameras. Case in point: Jeff Caparas was able to report on the Cavite standoff just with the help of his smartphone. 

Visually, TV5 decided to go simple. The set wasn't anything as grand as that of GMA or ABS-CBN's, but it didn't appear distracting at all even with those horrid graphics package. There's a feeling of intimacy with them trading a normal anchor desk to a simple table, which enough to be occupied by rotating anchors.

Solar's coverage was full of judicious conversations, giving viewers a panel of experts who can give answers by the book. Karen Jimeno and Rod Nepomuceno for one surprised us with their commanding and telegenic presence and encyclopedic knowledge on the election.  

On another note, there's an unfortunate moment during Solar News' late-night coverage when anchor Pia Hontiveros was overheard taking swipes at Annabelle Rama for her weak showing in the first district of Cebu City saying: "Buti na lang hindi nanalo si Anabelle Rama."

Ultimately, all the networks have put their respective marks in this election coverage: GMA-7 and ABS-CBN being the most innovative and trendsetting while at the same too predictable. TV5 as the most traditional and accessible for the "masang viewers," and Solar News for being too "inside baseball," giving more to those who have wanted more critical information on everything and anything about the elections.

This 2013 election coverages will not solely be judged by the networks' Nielsen or Kantar numbers, it's their ability to give viewers more substance and content in this election season.

Author: Media Newser Philippines

Media Newser Philippines or MNP is the go-to website for news on Philippine TV News. It operates as an online community website for anything and everything related to Philippine broadcast news. Media Newser Philippines features smart opinions about the local broadcast media and offers original assessments of various news and public affairs programs.

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