comedy, entertainment, humor, news, Philippines, politics, television, United States

The Absence of Fake News on Philippine TV

In the United States, the two most popular fake news programs today are Comedy Central’sThe Daily Show with Jon Stewart‘ and ‘The Colbert Report‘. Both shows offer a humorous take on current news events that affect both the United States and the international scene, with ‘The Colbert Report’ emphasizing a commentary and pundit-based approach similar to ‘The O’Reilly Factor‘. The popularity and critical acclaim of the two programs make them one of the most iconic television shows in the US.

In the Philippines, fake news programs are a rarity, and only a few programs ended up gaining  high viewership figures. One of the earliest fake news programs is ‘Sic O’ Clock News’, aired on IBC-13 in the late 1980s. The program was hosted by Jaime Fabregas and Ces Quesada, with the late Rene Requiestas as one of the program’s most notable players. The program focused on issues that affected both the country and internationally at the time, and the way they delivered the news in a humorous and often riotous manner made it a television icon during the administration of Cory Aquino.

‘Sic O’ Clock News’ was directed by Marilou Diaz-Abaya, who later presided in the filming of ‘Jose Rizal’ and ‘Muro-Ami’ in the late 1990s, both of which likewise earned praise and critical acclaim.

After the demise of ‘Sic O’ Clock News’, elements of fake news skits were seen in programs such as ‘Bubble Gang’, ‘Tropang Trumpo‘, ‘Ispup’, ‘Super Laff-In‘ and other gag shows in the late 1990s and early 2000s. It was not until 2004 that the fake news program was revived, in the form of Studio 23’s ‘Wazzup Wazzup‘. Hosted by then-newly-contracted Kapamilya Toni Gonzaga, Vhong Navarro and Drew Arellano, the show aired for three years and featured mockups of news stories, rather than commentaries on current issues.

While ‘Wazzup Wazzup’ enjoyed decent audience figures, the show was eventually axed three years later, owing to the busy schedules of the main hosts. Nevertheless, the program served as a vehicle for Studio 23’s shift of viewership from the niche upper class to the youth and ‘masa’, an emphasis that I wrote in a previous article.

In 2011, GMA News TV launched ‘May Tamang Balita‘. Originally hosted by Ramon Bautista, Sheena Halili and Janna Dominguez, the show ran for two years before it was axed for unknown reasons. Like ‘Wazzup Wazzup’, ‘May Tamang Balita’ offered mockups of news stories, presented ’24 Oras’ style unlike the more freelance approach of ‘Wazzup Wazzup’. The most popular segment of the show would see Dominguez strip to her underwear in the middle of her mock weather report. The original iteration of ‘May Tamang Balita’ lasted for 60 minutes.

After the departures of Halili and Dominguez, Betong Sumaya, Maey Bautista, Boobay and Jinri Park would arrive and the show’s format would emphasis less on mock news reporting in favor of more celebrity-related reports. Their arrivals caused the show to cut air time to 30 minutes, but failing ratings and lack of originality would cause the program’s demise.

As of the moment, the fake news genre is absent on Philippine television. Perhaps it is the ongoing sensitive nature of the news that prevented the creation of full-time news parodies. Whatever the case, we may never see comedians deliver fake news to the viewers in the near future.

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