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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.


11 thoughts on “1986: A Turning Point in Philippine Media

  1. Ralph, what you’ve just written is the conventional story of People Power. Today, many post-EDSA babies, like you and me, are tainted with the revisionist story on the 1986 happening. It’s found on YouTube and even here on WordPress. After I surfed on such emphasized perspectives, it just can’t erase in my brain. Because of this surge and professionalism, many netizens would rather forget than to remember this day. They rather chose to mourn rather than to rejoice.

    The politically-motivated social media scholars (PMSMS), who practiced their apologetic self-righteousness, believes that the television era slumped beginning 1986. Though I know, it started (IMHO) in 2005-6.

    Listen carefully, Ralph. You are in hot water. The PMSMS’ stalwarts are ready to DESTROY you. Since you lauded ABS-CBN, they are surely ready to shoot death threats at you. When they succeeded in overthrowing the current government, dear God, I don’t know what will our country will shape? Restoring dictatorship (authoritarianism) is one of the only way to go, according to them.

    I am not in favor of their revisionist history but they should put their side at their proper place. Though, it is not appropriate to comment here on FTT, better comment on the recent post about the 1986 happening.


  2. Jake-jake Jacinto says:

    Why did GMA air the last inauguration coverage of Pres. Ferdinand Marcos, along with IBC-13, when the former (GMA-7) was the only one who aired the coverage on the assassination of Ninoy?

  3. Jc says:

    Can’t really believe that the world of Philippine media is now considerably becoming stagnant nowadays with the advent of social media in order to carelessly express their opinion on what they have watched and listen.

    Meanwhile, I’m really scared for this Martial Law to come back in our generation. The most vulnerable to this should have to be ABS-CBN, now that the network has so many platforms and resources to back up their day-to-day operations, and yet if this Martial Law will come back for no reason and obviously be stormed by these rebels again, every inch of ABS-CBN’s assists will be ceased (I just don’t know if TFC can back up for ABS if it persists) And if it will be lifted thereafter, they will have a hard time starting all over again considering their worked-hard efforts. Sorry if this part of the comment sounds imaginative and unrealistic, but I just have this hysterical feeling of being scared of this. Now how come GMA Network was allowed by the government to operate again after a few months in the middle of Martial Law? Not that I am against GMA, it’s that I’m just concerned.

    This next part of the comment may not involve or be related about the media, but talking about still on Martial Law and this time, crime, Crime may be the most demanding issue of Filipinos, but these aspirants for higher office and us Filipinos should realize that Martial Law won’t solve this problem, it will just get worse than that and censorship may play a vital role for the media in it.

    Sorry if some parts of my comment are redundant and irrelevant. Hoping for more articles from you.

    • In case you didn’t know, Timow Paragas invited you to write on his blog. Just click on this link below for instructions.

      It would be much better if you contribute on his blog instead of posting extremely long comments on my blog. Your insights could be helpful on Timow’s Turf, provided you conform to his strict standards.

      And by the way, here’s the Turf’s Facebook page for more info:

      If you’re so mad about the state of Philippine broadcast media, better write it in a blog such as Timow’s Turf. That’s all.

      • Jc says:

        Sorry Ralph for the long comment, it’s just that I don’t want this to happen again and don’t want this next leader to declare it for a reason that is unpurpose and not beneficial to solve the country’s issues. You know how ABS is already grown big, but being ceased again? It’s going to be a challenge to start over again. Hope you can still share viewpoints on what I said above. And like I said, Kapamilya man ako, pero di ibig sabihin laban ako sa ibang networks.

      • Like I said, you should think about becoming a contributor to Timow’s Turf. Instead of dragging the conversation with extremely long comments, better try to make it into a blog entry.

        And one more thing: pessimism has no place in this blog here.

      • Jc says:

        But still, I just want to ask, why did the government allowed GMA to operate again in the middle of martial law?

        Meanwhile, perhaps ABS-CBN was ceased by the government because of their reporting on the Marcos’ various controversies which found out to be true thereafter? Hope I got that right.

        Another thing, if we can apply martial law to our generation today, maybe not only local media will be affected, but international media as well (in short, you won’t get to watch CNN for updates when that is declared). Not that I am pessimistic here or my comment is long, because I just want to know.

      • No one knew why Marcos allowed GMA back on air. What we do know was that Uncle Bob Stewart was forced to sell the network to its current owners simply because Marcos banned foreigners from owning Filipino companies. Again, any reason why is pointless, since people lived in a more oppressed environment at the time and there is lack of freedom of the press.

        Anyway, better stop living in the past if I were you. It is no longer likely that Martial Law will be implemented here, so move on with it.

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