What's the Big Idea series

At House hearing on ABS-CBN franchise, Kidlat Tahimik laments all networks’ ‘bias for trending’


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The National Artist calls on all broadcast networks to be mindful of their roles in shaping culture

NATIONAL ARTIST. Kidlat Tahimik, National Artist for Film, is invited to speak before the House of Representatives. File photo by Mau Victa/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – With a disclaimer that he isn’t used to speaking in what might be considered the most formal of settings, National Artist for Film Kidlat Tahimik made an appeal for broadcast networks to be mindful not just of ratings but of their role in shaping current culture.

Itong (This) responsibility, if the government is giving them the franchise, parang naging (it’s like they are) trustees sila to the common good. This is a concept to the networks that is, maybe, forgotten. Meron kayong malalim ng responsibilidad (You have a responsibility) which has to be followed,” said Kidlat Tahimik said on Monday, July 6, as the House of Representatives resumed hearings on media giant ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal.

Speaking via Zoom call, the Baguio-based National Artist said his plea wasn’t just for ABS-CBN but for all broadcast networks.

“I think sometimes the competition between networks and because of this, nagiging importante yung patok (what’s important is what rates), that the show is going to keep grabbing the audience and therefore the ratings will convince the advertisers to keep putting [ads] in the same company,” he explained, after first explaining the evolution of the commercial broadcast system, particularly the the United States.

I’m not here para sa panig ng depensa or para sa prosecution ng ABS-CBN (I’m not here to defend or prosecute ABS-CBN),” said the renowned film maker.

“The actual bias we’re talking about now, the bias is actually for trending… dahil uso, yang ang magiging programa (because it’s what’s is vogue, that’s what will be on air) and there are many subjects that are being neglected,” he said.

He earlier cheekily admitted that he only learned days prior what “trending” – a colloqiual term to refer to any top topic – actually meant. 

This wouldn’t be the first time for Kidlat Tahimik, a long-time cultural advocate, to call on mainstream media – from TV to film – to support stories that are important, even if they’re not popular just yet. (READ: Kidlat Tahimik’s 7th Monday in lockdown: 499th ‘Hapi LapuLapu Day!’)

The House resumed hearing proposed legislation to reissue a legislative franchise for ABS-CBN, the country’s biggest media conglomerate. ABS-CBN went off-air for the first time since the EDSA Revolution on May 5 because its legislative franchise expired on May 4 after the House failed to renew it.

The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has since issued two other orders against ABS-CBN, ordering it to shut down both the SkyDirect and TV Plus services. As of writing, ABS-CBN programs can only be access via the internet or cable TV – a far cry from its reach prior to the NTC orders.

ABS-CBN’s TV operations include news and entertainment programs. Its top executives, including its news head honchos, were in attendance during the House during on July 6.

The House is set to vote on the ABS-CBN’s franchise within the week. – Rappler.com

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