You know it’s the start of election season when senator-wannabes are being given undue airtime and printspace. You know it is undue because they’re really not saying anything newsworthy (by that, we mean: timely, significant, of consequence to the nation, etc.), but their faces and names are there, in the news, everyday. Why? Reporters are for sale: read the book “News for Sale” by Chay Florentino-Hofilena of the PCIJ, here’s an excerpt of how much it costs for a politician’s name mentioned in a news story or for him to be quoted, what’s the tag price to be interviewed, or to be covered in this or that press con, to have favorable call-ins (that’s when a news program accepts phone calls but actually, those are paid for), to have an “embedded” reporter assigned to the politician, etc.: Excerpts:
“In 2004, Ong (publicist Yoly Ong) says one radio station offered some candidates, among them, Roco, a P20 million package to cover the 90-day campaign. Ong was told similar offers were made to at least two senatorial candidates and two other presidential contenders. The contract guaranteed three interviews a week, call-ins that are favorable to the candidate, an `embedded’ reporter, and a package of radio ad spots. Though supposedly a contract, the offer did not come with an official receipt.
xxx “But Nicdao (of KBP sees nothing really wrong with such an arrangement. He says that DZRH itself offered candidates a package of discounted radio ad spots, a reporter to cover rallies, particularly the miting de avance or proclamation rally. Normally, according to his estimates, the station would need about P200,000 to cover production costs and airtime of a two-hour miting de avance coverage. xxx
“Like DZRH, rival station Radio Mindanao Network (RMN) put out its own version of packages during the campaign period. xxx Candidates were given an option for a nationwide already discounted P5.5 million package for the duration of the campaign or a lower nationwide P2.75 million package to cover only one month of the three-month campaign period. xxxThis package included four 30-second spots a day for one month in the station’s satellite news program. xxx two interviews a month xxx eight press releases a month in news time slots xxx 12 press releases in an hourly newsbreak xxx two features xxx two- to three-minute interview, 40 jingle playbacks for a month xxx one liner in a month xxx one interview in all the network’s FM stations.” (Chay Florentino-Hofilena, News for Sale volume 2, pages 64-64).
The two volumes of the book cover television, broadsheets, tabloid, and radio.
These payoffs, payola, and packages, of course, drive up the cost of winning in elections, and when the candidate most-covered by the media win, we pay for it with government officials that pocket 20% commissions off all government contracts.
It’s an S.O.P..