Media Newser Philippines' Media Winners and Losers of 2017

By Media Newser Philippines | Sunday, January 21, 2018

Photos: Karen Davila/Summit Media/TV5/GMA News TV
Artwork: Media Newser Philippines
In our annual yearender, we will honor and recognize local organizations, programs, and individuals who have made significant contributions to the industry in 2017. We will also, of course, to the very nature of this piece, name those who have failed to fulfill their obligations — whether that be as a broadcaster or broadcaster-cum-propagandist — this past year.

And so, before the calendar continues to flip, rest a while as we here at Media Newser Philippines present to you our Media Winners and Losers for the year 2017.


Photo: GMA News TV

Bawal Ang Pasaway Kay Mareng Winnie

GMA News TV’s public affairs program Bawal Ang Pasaway first made it on our winners list in 2014. At the time, we praised the program and its host, Mareng Winnie Monsod, for giving us substantive interviews with people in the fields of politics and government.

In 2017, the program once again gave us that, and more, as it dominated political conversations with interviews with the likes of Senators Antonio Trillanes IV and Richard Gordon, PCOO Secretary Martin Andanar, self-confessed former Davao Death Squad member Arthur Lascañas, and before the year ended, Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

But perhaps no other interview gained as much attention as her top trending interview with Mocha Uson. In there, Monsod challenged the sexy starlet turned propagandist over a number of issues, including the growing number of extrajudicial killings in the country, her appointment as board member of the MTRCB, and her call for the impeachment of Vice President Leni Robredo.

Pressed by Monsod as to why she was asking for the VP’s impeachment, Uson gave an amusing, meme-worthy response. "Dahil po plastic siya," she said.

While Uson also appeared in a number of TV programs this past year — including a cozy one-on-one with Daniel Razon on UNTV's Get it Straight and on CNN Philippines' now-canceled Political Insider — no one held her feet to the fire over her lies as much as Mareng Winnie Monsod. There's a reason why they titled the program Bawal Ang Pasaway!

Photo: Karen Davila/CNN Philippines
Logos: ANC/CNN Philippines
Artwork: Media Newser Philippines

The news channels: ANC and CNN Philippines

In a lot of ways, ABS-CBN News Channel and CNN Philippines are very much alike. They are that identical to each other, reason why we decided to mix them two together in one entry.

ANC, of course, is superior in terms of business news reporting, with the indomitable Cathy Yang at the helm. They also have a bigger team of warhorses led by Karmina Constantino, Karen Davila, Lynda Jumilla, Tony Velasquez, Ron Cruz, and David Celdran.

But when you look at the way they cover the news, especially this past year, style and presentation aside, CNN Philippines is just as good as the Kapamilya News Channel.

(Pia Hontiveros, Pinky Webb, Mitzi Borromeo and Claire Celdran make up CNN Philippines’ core anchor team.)

Last year, both news channels alloted sizable amount of airtime to coverage of live breaking news events, with their respective reportorial teams flooding their programming lineups. Case in point: their extensive coverage of the Marawi crisis and the Resorts World Manila attack lasted for days — longer and more comprehensive than any other networks.

More important to note, and one that we hope they will continue to practice this 2018, is when important stories start to evaporate in national conversation, ANC and CNN Philippines both remained committed to continuing coverage with special programming aimed at helping the viewers deepen their understanding of the issues (i.e., ANC's Bangsamoro and Beyond: A National Conversation forum and CNN Philippines' Townhall on the first year of President Duterte).

Photo: Cathy Yang

Cathy Yang

When it comes to business news in the country, there’s Cathy Yang, and then there’s everyone else. The anchor and managing editor of ABS-CBN News Channel had another impressive year, locking down some of the big interviews with the movers and shakers in the business world.

Among those who appeared on her programs — Market Edge, Business Nightly and The Boss — were Fama Francisco, the only Filipino female boss at Procter & Gamble; McDonald Philippines CEO Kenneth Yang, BDO Capital President Ed Francisco, newly-retired BSP governor Amando Tetangco Jr., Rustan Commercial Corp. President Donnie Tantoco, and ABS-CBN chief content officer Charo Santos-Concio.

In addition, Yang has also emerged as the chief anchor of the Kapamilya news channel with her frequent guest anchoring gig at the venerable The World Tonight, while also leading some of its breaking news coverage, including the attack in Marawi city in May.

What's more, Yang also added another achievement to her growing résumé when was chosen in June as one of the select few journalists to attend the Wharton Seminars for Business Journalists. And capping off her 2017, Yang secured another Best News Anchor nomination at the prestigious Asian TV Awards.

Photo/Background/Logo: GMA-7
Artwork: Media Newser Philippines

GMA Public Affairs

GMA Public Affairs in 2017 delivered another year of quality documentaries through programs like Reel Time and I-Witness.

Reel Time, the GMA News TV’s flagship documentary program, gave us one of its most compelling pieces for the year with Ang Biyuda, a follow-up to its award-winning Maling Akala.

(Maling Akala won, and deservedly so, a boatload of international journalistic recognitions including a Gold World Medal at the 2017 New York Festivals and a Silver Screen Award from the U.S. International Film and Video Festival. In addition, it was also chosen as a runner-up in the Lifelong Category for the Japan Prize 2017.)

I-Witness, meanwhile, in December aired Atom Araullo’s eye-opening documentary on the Rohingya crisis called Silang Kinalimutan, a follow-up to his highly-praised Kapuso debut Philippine Seas.

Knowing the value of good storytelling, the Kapuso division, which is under the leadership of Nessa Valdellon, also produced the groundbreaking Martial Law special Alaala, and the weekend OFW-themed anthology Tadhana.

As what GMA Public Affairs demonstrated these past 30 years, telling the stories that truly matter to Filipino viewers can not only bring in solid ratings, it can also, most importantly, make a true and lasting difference. Here’s hoping they can sustain the viewers’ interest in quality programming this 2018.

Photo: Karen Davila

Karen Davila

Karen Davila has surprisingly become one of the important voices for the common Filipino people this past year. From offering her strong opinions on national issues, including one about the Senate’s apparent biases toward the first family — which resulted to Paolo Duterte making some sexist comments about her — to challenging the lies of a Duterte propagandist, Davila has not only brought rationality, but has also shown extraordinary courage and fearlessness in confronting the villains of this country.

In case you missed one of her “greatest hits” last year, the Headstart host gave a masterclass in television interviewing with her phone interview with Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo in late October.

Asked about his sexually suggestive jokes in an interview with journalists, in which he spoke about f*cking his clothes and being "better in bed," Panelo tried to dodge Davila with his usual “I was misquoted” excuse.

But Davila just didn't let him, and asked him point blank. "So you feel you did nothing inappropriate by saying stuff like 'I'm better in bed? Why would you say they (the journalists who interviewed him) are biased when you are the one who brought up very personal matters, jokes about being better in bed, using the word f-u-c-k in an interview?"

Talk about being chewed alive on live TV!

Screenshot: CNN Philippines

The Source

Another morning talker made it on our winners list for 2017. Living up to its program title, the team behind CNN Philippines' The Source had their hands full last year with big interviews with politicians and newsmakers.

From pressing PNP Chief Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa to answer questions about the government's war on drugs, to asking losing vice presidential candidate Bongbong Marcos directly about their family's ill-gotten wealth, Pinky Webb and her team made the program an appointment viewing.

The list of big gets didn't stop there as they also scored an exclusive interview with former DILG secretary Mike Sueno, who answered questions about the investigation on Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo's case; former COMELEC chair Andres Bautista, who denied his wife's accusation that he amassed nearly 1 billion pesos worth of ill-gotten wealth; and Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, who accused his political rival, Senator Dick Gordon, of "clearing" politicians known to be allies of President Duterte.

Heading into 2018, the team should just continue making the program more relevant by chasing more big stories and interviews, and also continue retaining a strong presence on Facebook, where it is being simulcast each morning.

Photo: GMA-7/ANC/CNN Philippines

The 9PM newscasts

If there's a more solid hour on TV today, it's the 9PM block composed of the Big Three newscasts: The World Tonight, State of the Nation, and CNN Philippines Newsroom.

Even with the absence of Tina Monzon-Palma, who is taking a sabbatical leave, and the departure of Jove Francisco as the program's executive producer, The World Tonight team successfully kept their focus on delivering good old-fashioned reporting and analysis in 2016, remaining the newscast beat in terms of substance and quality.

Jessica Soho's State of the Nation, meanwhile, remained the best produced Kapuso newscast last year — the broadsheet equivalent of the tabloidy, but still watchable, 24 Oras.

Over at the local CNN station, the primetime edition of Newsroom also made its own mark — with much of the credit goes to the outgoing Mitzi Borromeo and her team — as the harder edged, fast-paced, but still thought-provoking CNN Philippines broadcast.

Photo: GMA-7

Unang Hirit

Not a lot of shows have the staying power as that of GMA-7's long-running Unang Hirit. Marking its 18th anniversary last year, UH continued its winning streak as the most watched regularly scheduled morning show, at least according to AGB Nielsen. In fact, if you look at the data from last year, UH consistently finished ahead, albeit by a slim margin, of ABS-CBN's Umagang Kay Ganda and TV5's now-canceled Aksyon Sa Umaga.

But perhaps more important than the Nielsen numbers is that the production team behind UH, led by Mon Del Rosario Torres and Amy Sy-Guevarra, finally managed to improve the show's format by adding more interviews with the people in the news (i.e., former Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella, PCOO Sec. Martin Andanar, Vice President Leni Robredo, and CHR chair Chito Gascon) and intelligent analysis courtesy of Mareng Winnie Monsod and GMA News resident analyst Richard Heydarian.

Cast-wise, UH also remained superior to its direct competitor with its mix of journalists and broadcasters led by Arnold Clavio, Rhea Santos, Connie Sison, and Ivan Mayrina.

(Love Añover, Suzi Entrata-Abrera, Lyn Ching Pascual, Susan Enriquez, Lhar Santiago, Luane Dy, Atty. Gabby Concepcion, Regiine Tolentino and weatherman Nathaniel Cruz round up the current lineup.)

Photo: ABS-CBN
Artwork: Media Newser Philippines

Umagang Kay Ganda's Gretchen Ho

On the other hand, one person has brought a new lease on life to ABS-CBN's Umagang Kay Ganda, and it's no other than Gretchen Ho. Since joining UKG, off from a successful but short stint at the now-canceled Mornings@ANC, the 27-year-old former sports presenter has become the Kapamilya Network's secret weapon in the always-competitive morning TV market.

Her appeal, as well as her huge following (the coveted millennial audience) account for UKG’s dominance in social media, particularly on Twitter, where it frequently becomes a trending topic. And if we go by what the people are saying, she is likely one of the major reasons why UKG, already the ratings leader nationally according to Kantar, also improved its numbers in Urban Luzon and Mega Manila.

Photo: CNN Philippines

CNN Philippines' New Day Team

In February, CNN Philippines reintroduced its morning news program with a new team composed of Andrei Felix, Christine Jacob-Sandejas, Angel Jacob, James Deakin, and Claire Celdran, who returned to her old early bird slot after anchoring Global Newsroom.

So far in the 11 months since the new ensemble started, New Day has shown encouraging growth in the ratings — consistently improving its overall numbers from the previous year. By the end of the year, in fact, it ranked third behind the morning behemoths, Unang Hirit and Umagang Kay Ganda.

Jacob summed up their team pretty well during our roundtable interview in July. She said: “We’re a breath of fresh air in the morning. It’s a different flavor in a buffet of morning shows. You go to a buffet table and you have your favorites, but there’s something new that catches the eye. It is interesting, fun and current."

This 2018, the challenge for the program's production team is how they can sew together news and features, while also finding a way to appeal more to morning TV viewers who can consider them as an alternative.

Photo: ABS-CBN Global Corporate Affairs and PR

Balitang America

After a so-so 2016, Balitang America rebounded and recovered last year, thanks largely to the stewardship of Troy Espera, the program's executive producer; and news desk editor and reporter Henni Espinosa.

Aside from guiding and mentoring its award-winning Global reporters — composed of Don Tagala, Steve Angeles, Yong Chavez, Bev Llorente, Rommel Conclara, Jared Bray, Connie Macatula-De Leon and co. – the power tandem also brought in a new sense of purpose and energy to the 15-year-old TFC broadcast.

No longer did they have to rely on filler segments, like the one used to be hosted by Cher Calvin, which eventually got canceled, and they are now back to basics — reporting more relevant stories in this age of Trump and Duterte, i.e., Tagala's exclusive in September about President Duterte’s common-law wife Honeylet Avancena, which drew so much attention in local media.

Photo: Atty. Mel Sta. Maria

Ed Lingao and Atty. Mel Sta. Maria

Here, we are also recognizing the broadcasters and journalists who are leading the fight against the bullies in our society. This list could go on beyond our selections — and you can find some of them below in our honorable mentions section — but here are just two of the prominent names in the television news industry.

Kapatid news anchor Ed Lingao and legal analyst Atty. Mel Sta. Maria, albeit having only limited platforms at News5, following some changes at the organization, have repeatedly went after the president and his cohorts.

Often using their Facebook accounts, the two have called out Mr. Duterte for his dangerous language and rhetoric, as well as the lies and misinformation being put out by some of his allies.

When Mr. Duterte said that he would order the arrest of officers of the Office of the Ombudsman who would not cooperate in an investigation to be made by his proposed commission, Sta. Maria reminded him that it was unconstitutional, writing in a Facebook post, "Malinaw naman po ang Konstitution. Let us abide, sir, by the RULE OF LAW. Mas mabuti na po na bilang presidente, kayo ang example ng leader na sumusunod sa batas. Let us follow sir."

"Masama kasi na nangtatakot ang isang lider sa mga mamamayan para sumunod sila sa batas, pero siya mismong lider ay hindi naman sumusunod sa batas at gumagawa pa ng krimen. Ang tawag po sa mga lider na iyan 'despot'. Paalala lang po sir. Thank you," he added.

When Mr. Duterte made a joke in front of military troops, wherein he said he could go to jail if they committed rape, Lingao also took to Facebook to chide the president.

"Another joke. This time about rape. And Martial Law. And how he would support the troops if that happens. The troops I know would feel deeply insulted by remarks or 'assurances' like these. They are professionals who take pride in their flag and in their profession. They fight so that others may live; they do not rape so that others may take the blame. The country I used to know would feel deeply insulted by words such as these. But then, change has come," he wrote.

Also, when die-hard Duterte supporter Erwin Tulfo lambasted Sen. Risa Hontiveros in a Facebook Live broadcast for allegedly supporting the Maute group, Lingao took his TV5 colleague to task for failing to verify the veracity of that claim.

“The senator who was the target of his tirade never said that the Maute group was the epitome of courage and resilience. I watched the entire one hour UNTV episode that was supposed to be the reason for the tirade, and nowhere was any support for the Maute indicated by the subject of the tirade," he wrote in a viral Facebook post.

Photo: ABS-CBN/Jamela Alindogan/Chiara Zambrano

Jamela Alindogan, Chiara Zambrano and Jeff Canoy

Just by looking at the major events that happened in 2017, we cannot proceed without honoring three of the best journalists of this generation, Al Jazeera's Jamela Alindogan and ABS-CBN News' Chiara Zambrano and Jeff Canoy.

From covering the situation in Spratlys to the government’s barbaric drug campaign, these three ultimately were the leading voices in the Marawi crisis coverage, bringing not just their courage — which meant putting their lives on the line — but also their commitment and dedication to reporting the news.

Alindogan, who has been covering wars and conflicts for over a decade, described it as "one of the most challenging and difficult coverage" she has ever had, pointing out the challenges on reporting human rights abuses with the implementation of martial law down south.

Remarkably, that didn't stop her, Zambrano and Canoy from doing their job, and through their reporting, viewers were able to know the real situation of our kababayans during one of the darkest periods in Philippine history.

Photo: Southeast Asia Globe
Logo: Rappler


Finally, some of you might wonder why Rappler made it on our list given the fact that we are mostly "exclusive" in covering the television news industry and rarely devote our space to online media websites. But we are making an exception this time around.

Rappler's success and influence can no longer be ignored that even those in positions of power continue to take a special aim at it. President Rodrigo Duterte himself mentioned the website during his 2nd State of the Nation Address and made a false allegation that it is "fully owned by Americans." (This, of course, has already been debunked by Rappler many times.)

It's enormous reach is also the reason why it remains the main target of trolls and propagandists, and why it continues to be subjected to black propaganda. But despite some attempts to vilify their reporting, the online news outlet led by Maria Ressa remains to be one of the places in the digital world for pristine and impactful journalism.


■ Ces Oreña-Drilon, Lynda Jumilla, Lourd De Veyra, Ivan Mayrina, Ryan Chua, Barnaby Lo, Jam Sisante, Roices Naguit, Raffy Santos, Jacque Manabat
■ The Big Story with Roby Alampay
■ The Early Edition team: TJ Manotoc, Annalisa Burgos, Paolo Abrera, Michelle Ong, and Christian Esguerra
■ Jasmin Romero for her headline-grabbing exposé about Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada


Photo: Mocha Uson

Mocha Uson

Mocha Uson is to President Duterte what Alex Jones is to President Trump.

Like the fake news peddler that Jones is, Uson also remained an unstoppable force in the business of alternative facts in 2017, with her well-documented blunders ranging from the “Article 263” of the Constitution to Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV's non-existent foreign bank account, which was later proven to be a fabricated lie as admitted by Mr. Duterte himself.

Like Jones, who is well-known for his conspiracy theories, Uson is also a master in that area, and she has been in the constant habit of making unfounded claims, like that the Liberal Party and other opposition forces (or the dilawans as she likes to call them) are still, up to this very day, engineering an ouster plot against Mr. Duterte.

But unlike the situation in the U.S., ours is way, way more dangerous given that Uson, aside from being an influential DDS blogger, also holds a very powerful position in the government. As assistant secretary of the PCOO, she has the power to influence more Filipinos — more than her 5 million Facebook followers — and she could do that the way she wanted to.

And with the exception of Mareng Winnie Monsod, Karen Davila, Rappler and a few others in the media, we have yet to fully expose Uson the way the American media pantsed Alex Jones.

This 2018, we certainly hope that our colleagues in the media will be more aggressive in challenging Uson over her lies and her B.S., and begin holding her accountable the way government officials ought to be. She has done enough damage to the moral fiber of this country. Enough is enough.

And if our local journalists do not expose her or people like her, then who will?

Photo: Mocha Uson
Logo: DZRH News Television

DZRH News Television

Even if they acted on the complaint against Uson and eventually suspended her program — this after making a crude and malicious on-air rant against Vice President Leni Robredo — DZRH News TV still deserves to be part of our losers list for 2017.

Week after week, the network allowed itself to be used as a political tool where Uson can promote political and historical inaccuracies, i.e., portraying the Marcos family as corrupt-free during her interview with Ilocos Governor Imee Marcos, and claiming that the Martial Law era was a "golden age" for the Philippine economy.

So, why was it necessary for a broadcast institution like Manila Broadcasting Company to hire someone like Uson and have her host a program that she would inevitably use as a propaganda tool? Did it have anything to do with their anemic ratings? Well, as they say, desperate times require desperate measures.

Photo/Logo: TV5
Artwork: Media Newser Philippines


News5 had a promising start in 2010. Back then, the belief was that it would provide ABS-CBN and GMA News a new serious competitor given Manny Pangilinan’s overpouring support and resources to the team led by Luchi Cruz-Valdes.

Fast forward to today, the Kapatid news division enters the new year not just being seriously handicapped, but it also technically dead with TV5 terminating most of its news and public affairs programs as it leans towards sports programming with ESPN5.

(Among those cancelled last year were Aksyon Sa Umaga and ReAksyon, while Aksyon Tonite’s airtime had been reduced to 15 minutes.)

One has to wonder how News5 can cover the news if, God forbid, something terrible or tragic happen and they are airing a live sports coverage. Will they still be capable of switching to breaking news or will they even choose to?

But who really should get the blame at this point for the demise of News5? Weren't they given enough time to find their footing? You, our dear MNP readers, already know the answers.

Photo: CNN Philippines

Gilbert Remulla and CNN Philippines' Political Insider

When we first reported in December 2016 that Gilbert Remulla would be hosting a new political oriented program on CNN Philippines, there had been plenty of negative reactions from our readers. Some of them were questioning his selection given his background, while others wondered how he could be an objective host given his apparent political biases as displayed on his colorful Twitter account.

As it turned out, our readers were right as Remulla’s Political Insider became somewhat of a highbrow ka-DDS program with guests ranging from Alan Peter Cayetano to Bongbong Marcos to Mocha Uson. Sure it had opposition senators like Risa Hontiveros and Bam Aquino, but it mostly showcased politicians and personalities who are allied with the current administration.

And who could forget his now-infamous Twitter response to a netizen who called him out for being a “trapo” and a fanatic of President Duterte? In it, he said: “Go hide under a rock. Di ka marunong lumaban ng harap harapan. Wala ka pala. Fucking yellow.”

Reactions to that, as we documented here on MNP, of course, were swift and brutal — as they really should.

Screenshot: PTV

Erwin Tulfo

No other media personality had, and still has, the same amount of access to President Rodrigo Duterte as much as Erwin Tulfo. Since leaving TV5 and joining PTV4 full-time, the former anchor of Aksyon became one of Mr. Duterte’s loyal defenders.

No one was safe from his constant barking as he pounced on those he considers "destablizers" of the current administration — primarily the Liberal Party — namely Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, Vice President Leni Robredo, and former President Noynoy Aquino, just to name a few.

Added to his target list as well were some of his colleagues from the mainstream media including veteran journalist Ed Lingao, whom he maliciously attacked on a number of occasions.

Also, like Mocha Uson, Tulfo has also mastered the art of fake news and propaganda, with his “Mission X” about Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV’s supposed offshore bank accounts as his most recent one.

Photo/Logo: PTV4

PTV4: People's Television Network

2017 was the year when People’s Television Network had a complete makeover. From making Erwin Tulfo the new face of the network — this after the unceremonious firing of veteran journalist Kathy San Gabriel — the network also changed its overall look with new on-air graphics package, logo, and set.

Perhaps more important to note is that the network also changed the way they cover the news. Simply put: it has been transformed into a full-blown propaganda network where the news should always be, regardless of any available facts, in favor of the commander-in-chief.

To be equitable, PTV4 as a state-run TV network really was designed to be the TV arm of the administration, and its function is to help relay the president’s message to the public. That said, it’s not what Martin Andanar promised when he took over the Presidential Communications Operations Office in 2016.

Remember, he promised that PTV4 under the Duterte administration would “strive to work in having editorial independence,” and would be “critical” if necessary. These days, we are lucky if they can interview one of the opposition senators.


■ GMA News TV
■ Teddy Boy Locsin, Jr.
Noli De Castro

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