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1986: A Turning Point in Philippine Media

The late June Keithley, along with husband Angelo Castro Jr., were instrumental in bravely covering the EDSA Revolution and the eventual inauguration of President Corazon Aquino.

Today marks the 28th anniversary of the People Power Revolution. In commemoration of the event, this article will focus on the year 1986, a year that marked a new era in Philippine media history.

Before 1986, media in the Philippines was virtually dominated by the cronies of President Ferdinand Marcos. The most prominent of these networks were the Banahaw Broadcasting Corporation (BBC-2), and the Kanlaon Broadcasting System (KBS-9; later Radio Philippines Network). The now-People’s Television Network (PTV-4) and Intercontinental Broadcasting Corporation (IBC-13) were also established during Martial Law. The only non-crony owned network at the time was GMA, which was sold by Bob Stewart to Felipe Gozon and operated under limited three-month permits. Some radio stations were also given permission to air, provided that they avoid airing any anti-Marcos statements.

However, certain events in Philippine history forever changed the media industry. The soon-to-be Kapuso network was the only station to cover the Ninoy Aquino assassination, and wife Cory’s declaration to run for the presidency. The defections of Juan Ponce Enrile and Fidel V. Ramos from the Marcos regime was also covered by GMA. Channel 7’s brave stand was only the beginning, though.

Radio Veritas followed GMA’s lead by broadcasting Jaime Cardinal Sin’s message, urging people from all walks of life to flood the Murphy and Greenhills sections of EDSA in an effort to protect Enrile and Ramos. When Veritas was seized by the Marcos troops, Radyo Bandido (DZRJ 810) took over, with real-life couple June Keithley and Angelo Castro, Jr. broadcasting the proceedings.

Meanwhile, a broadcast of President Marcos’ press conference was aired on Channels 4 and 9, only to be cut off the air by the rebels. By this time, Marcos’ grip on power was slipping away, although he made a final official TV appearance as president when GMA and IBC covered his inauguration, which like Channels 4 and 9 were also invaded and cut off by the rebels.

While the inauguration of Corazon Aquino at Club Filipino was preserved on videotape, it was unclear if any network in the Philippines aired the said event. Nevertheless, with the departure of Ferdinand Marcos from Malacanang, the freedom of the press was restored, and with it came the return of ABS-CBN and the sequestration of Channels 4, 9 and 13.

The year 1986 was a period of change and progress in the Philippine media industry. The once-censored media is gone, and with it came a more free-wheeling and conscious approach to broadcasting, although it remains subject to various regulations by the Kapisanan ng Broadkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) and the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB). Even with the media now more widespread than ever, the lessons of Martial Law and EDSA will never be forgotten, and the experiences of each outlet will continue to have a huge impact on the industry in the years to come.

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