Media consumption in the Philippines shows how Filipinos today favor screen-based media. TV is at the peak of the country’s media landscape, followed by mobile, outdoor (out-of-home), the Internet and radio. Across all media sector, the market demand leads to a media coverage that focuses on trivial topics, entertainment and presenting rivalling elites.
While there are evidently physical challenges to distribute news all across the scattered island state, literacy, as a personal precondition for news access, is generally not the problem. Literacy rate in the Philippines is one of the highest in Asia: in 2013, 96.5 percent of 74 million Filipinos 10 years old and over were basically literate, while functional literacy stood at 90.3%.
Filipinos trust in media – more than in politics, business and NGOs
The Church is deemed as the most trusted institution in the nation followed by the academe, according to EON’s Philippine Trust Index (PTI) 2015. Media maintains its position as the third most trusted institution, before the government, business and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
This implicates especially a relatively high influence on public opinion through media, especially amongst the less informed public that tends to even trust more. Television remains to be the most trusted source of information (99%), then radio (58%), internet (44%), tabloid (38%), broadsheet (16%) and magazines (8%). Trust in online media has also risen considerably as trust in other top sources of information plateau or even decline. For information about the Government, NGOs, and the Media, radio is after TV the second most trusted source. For businesses, newspapers take this rank.
"When Manila sneezes, the rest of the country catches pneumonia”
The Philippines is an island country that consists of over 7600 islands. Despite or because of this fissuring, there is a dominance of Metro Manila that has led to serious urban-rural gaps and imbalances also regarding media landscape and journalistic culture.
On the one hand, this centralization has an impact on the physical news infrastructure: it is concentrated in areas where fair return on investment is ensured – which leaves especially the distribution of print outlets to rural areas as unprofitable and results in high pricing and delivery delays. This might be a reason why not even a third of Filipinos regularly reads newspapers, and relies on audio-visual media.
The internet created hopes for change towards better access to news all across the island state. But again , Manila proofs as a magnet: According to an interview with the National Telecommunication Commission, web traffic concentrates to 70% on the Metro Manila area – which doesn’t provide enough economic incentives for the Internet Service Providers to expand and improve the broadband infrastructure and supply to rural areas.
This nuclear pattern around Metro Manila and other key urban areas has on the other hand also a content-related effect: the reporting of the major networks is Manila-based, which means that cultural and other minorities do generally not appear on the agenda, except during disasters and other calamities.
Language is a basic requirement for gaining access to media – which can get at time confusing in a country with 187 languages and dialects. English, Tagalog as well as Taglish – a combination of both - serve as the lingua franca. TV and radio content is for the largest part in Tagalog. Newspapers – especially the business papers and broadsheets that target the elite and college educated – are in English. Tabloids, that are in general cheaper and targeted at a broader audience, are mostly in Tagalog/ Taglish. They enjoy a higher pass-on readership.
Philippines - Key Data Society
Democracy and the Philippine Media, 1983-1993 (2000), Desmond Smith
The New Media, Society and Politics in the Philippines (2012), Paul Pertierra
SOCIOCULTURAL FACTORS AS DETERMINANTS OF PRESS FREEDOM: THE PHILIPPINE EXPERIENCE (1996), Ramon R. Tuazon
The Philippine Trust Index (2015), EON
Functional Literacy, Education and Mass Media Survey (2013), PSA
Interview with NTC (2016)