BY the rules of contemporary journalism, the report that US President Donald Trump called Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th “a little narco” should now be classified as a factoid.
According to Norman Mailer, who coined the term, a factoid is a fact that had no existence before appearing in a newspaper or magazine. The “little narco” comment has now appeared in several newspapers and been broadcast on TV and radio.
What makes things worse for Trillanes is that there is plausible corroboration from recent historical records.
During the 2016 US presidential campaign, the presidential candidates, Donald Trump and Marco Rubio, exchanged insulting words.
Trump attacked the Florida senator via Twitter: “Little Marco Rubio is just another Washington D.C. politician that is all talk and no action.”
Rubio replied in kind: “Trump is always calling me Little Marco. And I’ll admit he’s taller than me. He’s like 6’2”, which is why I don’t understand why his hands are the size of someone who is 5’2”.”
When Trillanes joined Marco Rubio in Washington for a cabal, little did he know that he was linking with a kindred soul.
When Trump touches down in Manila next week to attend the Asean and East Asia summits, Filipino media will doubtless bring up the “little narco” comment with him and his media staff.
The “little narco” quip, says one report in the Bulletin, was made when Trump was asked by an embedded reporter on Air Force One about Senator Trillanes’ meeting with Senator Rubio.
Based on the source who flew with Trump going home from an official function in Texas, President Trump considered Trillanes a virtual nobody.
Said Trump: “Senator who? Like I said senator who? The li’l narco who met Marco? How did he get a visa? Isn’t he wanted, doesn’t he have an arrest warrant or something?”
Trillanes must console himself with the thought that the brand, which will now tail him everywhere he goes, was stamped on him by a US president.
Are TV ratings fake?
Mainstream media, both broadcast and print, would have a fighting chance of surviving the communications revolution and the onslaughts of online media, if they will only return to the fount of their service to society: reporting the truth of events and developments, and transparency about their own operations.
The point was impressed on me during a conversation with a foreign corporate executive, who asked me 1) why our top TV networks present different and contrasting TV ratings regarding their audience share; and2) why there is still no accredited Audit Bureau of Circulation to authenticate the circulations of local newspapers.
His point is unavoidable. The stakes are very high, running into billions of pesos, particularly in advertising revenues for broadcast media, which is the most dominant and profitable in the country. The value in terms of media’s prestige as a social institution is incalculable, because media, especially print, has constitutional protection.
Newspapers can more easily roll with the problem, because their revenue share is modest compared to the broadcast networks. Their bigger problem is the pervasive erosion of their business by the flight of readers and clients to the Internet.
This week, the nation was treated to the annual ritual of both ABS-CBN and GMA-TV simultaneously boasting that they have respectively won the ratings war against each other, and over the smaller TV networks in the country.
Is it comprehensible for each of them to be on top of the totem pole, and claim bragging rights?
What special manipulation do their favorite market researchers perform so each can claim supremacy?
The question is in order because the market researchers, Kantar Media and AGB Nielsen, have not wavered one bit from their predestined findings, year after year after year.
ABS-CBN of the Lopez Group was the first to announce its victory. It said that it posted an average national audience share of 46 percent in October, up 23 percent compared with rival GMA Network Inc. with 33 percent, according to data from Kantar Media.
ABS-CBN took the lead in all territories, including Mega Manila where it scored an average audience share of 36 percent against GMA’s 34 percent, and in Metro Manila with 41 percent against GMA’s 27 percent.
ABS-CBN also won in Total Luzon with 43 percent compared with GMA’s 34 percent, in Total Visayas with 53 percent against GMA’s 28 percent and in Total Mindanao with 50 percent against GMA’s 33 percent.
ABS-CBN also led other networks across all time blocks in October, including the morning block, where it scored an average audience share of 39 percent against GMA’s 32 percent.
GMA, for its part, reported that it maintained its supremacy in the nationwide television ratings competition in October based on data from Nielsen Phils. TV audience measurement.
According to GMA, its ratings in the National Urban Television Audience Measurement (NUTAM) posted an average total day people audience share of 41.7 percent from October 1 to 28, higher compared with ABS-CBN’s 38.1 percent.
The network also registered winning numbers across all day parts in NUTAM. In the morning block, GMA registered a 38.5 percent people audience share versus ABS-CBN’s 35.9 percent.
In the afternoon line-up, GMA dominated its time block with 45.4 percent as against ABS-CBN’s 37.5 percent. Subsequently, the evening block was also ruled by GMA with 40.2 percent versus the competition’s 39.4 percent
The market researchers
These perplexing ratings reports prompted me to look up the credentials of the market researchers who did the survey research.
Kantar Media Research, which did the survey favoring ABS-CBN, is a market research firm in the Philippines specializing in broadcast media. Kantar Media is responsible for audience measurement of television ratings for the entire Philippines.
As of 2017, Kantar Media uses a nationwide panel size of 3,500 urban and rural households, with a respondent base of 10,000 individuals that represent 100 percent of the total Philippine TV viewing population.
The panel reports on seven sectors, namely National Capital Region, Suburbs, North Luzon, Central Luzon, South Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.
AGB Nielsen Media Research, or AGB Nielsen, is a market research firm in the Philippines specializing in broadcast media. AGB Nielsen conducts audience measurem ent of television ratings for certain areas in the Philippines, most notably in urban areas.
As of 2013, AGB Nielsen uses a panel size of 1,980 households based solely in urban areas that represent 57 percent of the total Philippine TV viewing population.
In October 2006, AGB Nielsen established the Philippines’ first national television audience measurement panel called the “Nationwide Urban Television Audience Measurement (NUTAM)” that covered 95 percent of urban areas in the country.
On December 20, 2007, ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corp. filed a civil case against AGB Nielsen after ABS-CBN discovered alleged tampering in the ratings in Bacolod. The next day, ABS-CBN reported through their AM station DZMM that AGB Nielsen pointed to GMA Network as the one behind the manipulation of ratings in Bacolod. On January 3, 2008, GMA filed a P15 million libel suit against ABS-CBN and some of its employees. On January 7, 2008, the Quezon City regional trial court (RTC) junked ABS-CBN’s case against AGB Nielsen saying it was “prematurely filed” before the court.
Why isn’t there one TV ratings system in the country that regularly and methodically measure the audience ratings of specific shows and networks? Why are the two measures providing persistently contrasting results.
Why is it that in the US we are informed every month how specific programs and shows and networks outperform one another, even with particular audience segments?
Surely, this is not the fault of Filipino audiences?
The simple answer is that the ratings are being produced by the market researchers on demand by the TV networks. There is plenty of money in this transactional arrangement.
Advertisers’ satisfaction ratings
It struck me while puzzling over the TV ratings maze, that there is one worthwhile satisfaction survey that the Social Weather Stations should be commissioned to conduct as a service to the Filipino public and the business community.
SWS should survey the legions of TV advertisers, big and small, that advertise at great cost on the leading broadcast networks, ABS-CBN and GMA-TV. It should ask companies one by one whether they are satisfied with, or find credible, the TV ratings system that each network parades as proof that it is on top.