No More Free TV

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   In a report by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) entitled “Wowowee and the Women of 200 P. de la Cruz St.” (PCIJ iREPORT, March-June 2006; this article is also accessible here), Sheila Coronel writes:

The poor are a willing and captive audience of television.  In fact, poor people watch free television more, if only because they have few other alternative distractions.  In some poor households, the TV is on 16 or 18 hours a day.  The better off have cable TV, DVDs, and cinemas.  They visit malls, travel elsewhere during their vacations, eat out in restaurants, and look for nighttime entertainment in theaters and clubs.  The poor watch TV all day and all night. 

   It’s a small wonder why GMA-7 and ABS-CBN will fight like Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees not over the matter of killing a camp counselor, but denying the Filipino audience out of the freedom to choose.

   I’ve made my choice: screw them.

   For the past few weeks, both stations have been running long advertisements on tampered ratings: whether it’s on “24 Oras” or “TV Patrol World,” “Saksi” or “Bandila,” TV ratings are headline stories.  The two biggest free TV stations of the Philippines are demanding your undivided attention, ladies and gentlemen.  The media has polarized the country yet again into being either a “Kapuso” or “Kapamilya.”  It’s either you’re with them, or you’re against them.  This is nothing short of fascism: the kind of “us-against-them” mentality that threatens our freedom to choose.

   I made a decision today to quit watching free TV.  I’m boycotting free TV: I will no longer watch ABS-CBN or GMA-7.

   Tomorrow, I’m posting a manifesto.

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