Philippine Radio Broadcasting — A Report
Philippine Radio Broadcasting -- A Report by Brian Dexter M. Medija
As with other forms of media, Radio Broadcasting started in the West. It was during the American Period of Philippine history that the first Radio station was set up by the Americans. The first radio station was called KZKZ (KZRQ), set up by American Henry Mann in Manila in 1922. Thereafter, more stations were established such as KZRM and KZEG. In 1929, radio was introduced into the provinces.
Since early Philippine radio stations followed the same nomenclature as US stations, confusion was eschewed by assigning new prefixes: DZ for those established in Luzon, DY in the Visayas, and DX in Mindanao-to replace the American “KZ”.
Early radio programs in the Philippines were mainly for entertainment. This was especially true before the Second World War. After the war, a “maturation” of radio broadcasting came forth, this time focusing more attention on the elements of information and education-to bring relevance into the medium. This stemmed from the premise that broadcasting should cease to be merely entertainment, or that there is more to broadcasting than entertainment. This marks the early foundations of Development Broadcasting in Philippine radio.
Before Martial Law, Philippine media was devoid of government control. It enjoyed full freedom of expression hence abuses and excesses were commonplace among radio broadcast practitioners. Yellow journalism (e.g., tabloid media) flourished with all its vulgarities and irresponsibility, earning the ire of politicians and public figures. This is clearly explained in the words of Pañares (chapter XIV, Philippine Mass Media: An Introduction), “no politician or public figure could hope to be spared from the ‘bomba,’ the term for vitriolic and abusive comments.” There was no doubt that Philippine radio broadcasting-and Philippine media as a whole-was among the freest in the world. Philippine media was, in essence, a truly Libertarian system.
On September 21, 1972, Martial Law was declared. This was the muzzle that silenced much of Philippine media but also ushered in an era of alternative media. However, martial rule, too, brought about encouraging concepts as to how Philippine broadcasting should run. For the first time, government control on the otherwise freewheeling broadcast industry was instituted with the establishment of the Broadcast Media Council (BMC) and the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas (KBP). The Authoritarian system finally made its mark on the media.
The BMC was tasked, among others, to: ‘assist and support the government in developing the masses, through the massive dissemination of broadcast information and development broadcasting.’
The KBP is an assembly of media practitioners, which seeks to self-regulate and ‘standardize’ the broadcasting industry. Likewise it seeks to inspire and encourage development broadcasting. This is a surviving legacy of the Martial Law on Press control.
Founded in 1972, it had for its general objectives:
- to unify broadcast practitioners
- to formulate policies and standards
- to represent broadcasters as their spokesman regarding matters concerning policies and legislation.
The Top Level Management Conference (TLMC) acts as the KBP’s highest governing body. It has the following thrusts:
- Professionalize and elevate standards of broadcasting
- Enhance mass media for national development
- Effectively disseminate information to all sectors
- Consultations on matters concerning policies
- Preserve Filipino culture and heritage
The Standards Authority of the KBP takes charge of complaints and enforcement of the different rules and regulations. It handles the following:
- Fines, suspensions and expulsion of members
- Standard rules and regulations
- Complaints and violations
- Inspections and investigations
At the KBP symposium in the 1st Semester 1998-99, the following data was presented:
- There are 36 local chapters in 13 regions
- 283 AM stations nationwide
- 234 FM stations nationwide
- 91 TV stations nationwide
- 8 UHF stations nationwide
- in Davao, there are 24 radio stations
Although the thrust for “Development Broadcasting” was already around since after the Second World War, this direction in programming “was given impetus during martial law period” as the establishment of the BMC and KBP brought forth support encouragement for Development Broadcasting.
Broadcast Media operators are categorized into:
- Commercial — private corporations/associations, private schools, civic institutions or independent business entrepreneurs. They are business- and profit-oriented.
- Non-Commercial — civic or religious organizations with specific target audiences for their programs.
- Government sector — operated by a government department, agency, organization or state university/academic institution. They provide public service, information, culture and education programs to motivate and reinforce development activities. They also disseminate information on government activities.
- Educational (Formal) — programs integrated with regular school, from primary grades through the university (college).
- Educational (Non-formal) — programs designed for training and learning experiences pertaining to technical / vocational work and good citizenship.
- Informational — programs that seek to develop/encourage public awareness and disseminate information related to development (e.g., news, public affairs, news analyses, interviews, speeches, lectures, documentaries, etc.)
- Entertainment — variety shows, drama, comedies, contests, specials, etc.
- Lack of Organization
- Lack of Competent Manpower
· Establishment of the BMC and KBP
· Training of Personnel
· Partnership with the academe
· Listing of 10 needs/interest to be addressed (for renewal of BMC Permit)
· Adoption of Program Code
· Program controls
· Radio Drama
· Professional Standards & accrediting of broadcasters
The Radio Broadcasting Industry in the Philippines has gone through several changes througout its nearly eight decades of history. From its fetal stages of pure entertainment, to its adoption of its role as a tool for information in the late 40s, it has enjoyed a great deal of freedom as government control over it was at absolute zero. It can be considered a truly Libertarial system–varied and downright chaotic, which had its good and bad parts.
However, the government, the butt of ridicule and criticisms by the media (not only radio broadcasting, but the Philippine media as a whole), bore animosity towards it and when martial law cam, the government immediately unleashed its vindictiveness over the media.
The Martial Law had its main thrust on tearing the yellow curtains of sensationalism and vulgar journalism in the halls of Philippine media. It suceeded, with the establishment of government cotnrols via the BMC, KBP, NTC and other gatekeepers. To move furtheir in it attempt at controlling the media, the military government strove to “purge” the media of “aggressors” and “potential hazards.” And purge it did. During martial law, dozens of journalists (including radio broadcast practitioners) were murdered or jailed. It proved to be a nightmare to the once “freest” media in Asia.
After the People’s Power Revolution of 1986, Corazon Aquino took over the presidency and restored democracy. In the process, she revised the constitution which now uholds the Bill of Rights, including the provision on an “inviolable” Freedom of the Press. This injected much hope for the new media, although Marcos’ legacy still lives on–the press control of KBP and NTC.
Although Philippine Radio is relatively “free” in terms of its being a watchdog on government, and its censure of public figures, it is highly unlikely that it will match its “unrepressed” status of the pre-martial law days. ¤