I'VE already lost count on how many times I've seen in the headlines on publications and even on personal account posts regarding the possible shutdown of the ABS-CBN Corporation. The same topic is being watched and heard over and over again on its channels and on its radio frequencies on various time slots. The issue went viral as if it's attempting to go at par with the real virus, the Covid-19, in terms of media exposure.
A sense of urgency from the network apparently became obvious after the solicitor general filed the petition. Various write-ups about the issue come flooding in all day and all night. Can't deny the power of the media, it's everywhere. And so, any soundbite pertaining to the same discussion that can potentially be squeezed in to make a qualified story seemed to be considered subject for dissemination.
Surprisingly, not all regular readers and avid viewers are die-hard supporters of the giant network. A lot of netizens who are even labeled as "Top Fan" followers on some of the network's official FB pages are actually supporting the what could be the second shutdown of ABS-CBN. Some even posted previous negative political ads that attempted to discredit a political opponent implying preference. Others posted former employees who filed numerous cases against the network. While some parents and viewers expressed their concerns on how one main host manipulates the daytime show to a point where the comedian gets away with the bizarre antics, and the network seemed to be just cool with it.
Abundant with talents, the network capitalized by taking testimonials from its exclusive celebrity superstars emphasizing on the importance of giving joy and entertainment and not focusing so much on the status of their employment or contract. Others went as far as comparing the issue to the status of democracy. Then, suddenly mentioning the welfare of hundreds of their employees which in a way I found it somewhat hypocritical.
I owe so much from ABS-CBN. I was a "Kapamilya." I started my career in media with ABS-CBN. The training was like no other. It opened a window of opportunity but the journey was not as shiny as their stars on teleseryes. I was conveniently categorized as a talent instead of an employee with a salary rate similar to those in secluded rural areas. Initially, my extra benefit was a cavan of rice given by the end of the year. I was like a Swiss knife on-call. It was all multitasking with a limited liberty. Back then, our regional head controlled our personal Facebook accounts. We would login one by one in front of her and she would look into our list of FB friends and instructed us to delete those who are politically affiliated. Crazy wasn't it?
Yes, we felt we were underpaid and overworked but we seldom complain because we loved our roles. We were the front-liners and we really felt the tag line 'In the Service of the Filipino" to a certain point. I felt the value of what we do on a daily basis and I felt that it was my purpose in life to help at least one soul a day. But through the journey, there were a number of situations when changes in leadership happened and we tried to adjust through those changes.
After being a local TV Reporter, I became the Pampanga Provincial Correspondent for dzMM Teleradyo. The title was so huge that people thought I was being paid hefty from the station. I just smiled at them to preserve my dignity. And after those sleepless duties, the working weekends and holidays, the hungry gatherings, those flash reports, breaking news and exclusive stories, when the boss decides that you are no longer needed, they would just leave you hanging... just like that. No sweet words, no tributes, not even goodbyes, and no compensation.
It's tough to find a clean one in this industry. Unbiased? No preference? Non-partisan? That's a lot of talking through one's hat. Integrity? In the service of? Come on, now. We all have a connection to somebody. But having a connection is not entirely wrong. It is how one particular person uses or communicates with the connection that can be weighed if it's tolerable, beneficial or abusive.
In this particular network crisis, are they reaping what they sowed? Just look at those who openly supports the shutdown. Who are they affiliated to? Now, think of those who sympathize with the giant network. What is their common denominator? Is this becoming a war of "Dilawans" versus DDS?
How do you tell a balanced reporting? Is it by making the testimony of a star in support of the network and put it on headline? Or is it by showing the viewers how some people enjoy their free time watching their favorite shows and programs? Or perhaps by reporting how a legislator whose parents were both in showbiz had an interest to discuss the matter on televised plenary session? Media can manipulate.
People are starting to get tired of these infomercials. I would appreciate more if the network sticks to unbiased reports instead of self-serving dramatic stories. General viewers and readers nowadays can tell if a report is legit or just a sympathy catcher.
Any person who gets consumed with too much power and abuses it will not have a good ending. If a network allows a perennial behavior or attitude of their bankable star to air on their show on a daily basis, what vision would they like to convey? If an institution continue to treat provincial talents as dispensable commodity, how can you believe when they say "iisang pamilya tayo?"
Am I in support for the shutdown of ABS-CBN? I am not. And it's not because I was a "Kapamilya," not because I have friends in the corporation, not because it provides entertainment and news. I am not in favor of shutting down ABS-CBN because I believe that at least one of the heads in the corporation might have reached into a realization and that they have learned a lesson from the ordeal. And I personally believe that ABS-CBN deserves a chance to correct the mistakes in the past and be genuine again in the service of the Filipino.
Kuya J Pelayo IV is a Kapampangan broadcast journalist. For comments and suggestions, e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.