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The Resilience of Television

The media landscape has changed tremendously over the past couple of decades. I remember when I was young the source of entertainment and information was the radio. At night, some of us would gather around the radio listening to soap operas and the news.


Then the television came along and changed our entire way of life. Our information, our source of entertainment revolved around that box with antenna that broadcast news and TV shows initially via black and white then later in full color.

TV and radio are still around but advances on communications technology, the ubiquity of the internet and smartphones and the prevalence of social media has upended the reign of TV as source of information. It has also threatened the viability and existence of traditional media. Traditional newspaper circulations have dwindled and TV has seen a decline in viewership.

According to a 2023 study entitled, Digital 2023 Global Overview Report by Meltwater and We Are Social, there are 85.2 million internet users in the Philippines. Just to gain a bit of a perspective, in 2013 the number of internet users was 32.3 million. Those who use social media said that their primary reason for using social media was to keep in touch with family and friends (69.2 percent) followed closely by “reading news stories” (47.3 percent).

A very recent poll by Publicus Asia Inc. conducted from March 14 to 18, 2024 showed that 65 percent of Filipinos browse the Internet as their main source of news. Interestingly, television is still hanging tough. The survey found that “61 percent of Filipino adults access Facebook to get their news, while around 65 percent still consume news through television.”


This mirrors the 2021 study made by the Ateneo de Manila University School of Government which found that 79 percent of Filipinos often get their news from random feeds on the social network. But again, television was second at 66 percent, followed by YouTube at 57 percent and other news websites at 54 percent.

A Pulse Asia survey during the same year actually found that television was still king despite the quick ascent of the internet as a source of news and information. Ninety one percent of respondents said they get their news from television, 49 percent from radio and 48 percent from the Internet. What do these numbers tell us? 

Filipinos, in this day and age, use multiple sources to get their news and other information. Despite being bombarded by news—real and fake—from various social media platforms a good number of Filipinos remain devoted to their TVs. In fact, despite complaints about the proliferation of fake news, social media has added additional options for information sources. I think television can play an important role to checking false information. Ideally, social and traditional media should be able to co-exist harmoniously to provide accurate and timely information to our people.

These thoughts and numbers were at the back of my mind when we decided to welcome TV Patrol to the Advanced Media Broadcasting System (AMBS) broadcast. This was part of the agreement that we signed with ABS-CBN Corp. that will officially bring, on May 13, iconic Filipino entertainment programs and relevant news to more audiences via our free-to-air channel ALLTV. This is all part of ALLTVs commitment to provide quality entertainment and timely information to the Filipino nation.

Television will remain an integral part of the lives of Filipinos. Sure, things have changed. We no longer have those big, bulky TV boxes, we now have slick, slim and smart TVs. No more antenna that you need to adjust constantly in order to get a strong signal. The screens are LED, OLED or QLED instead of the grainy black and whites we used to enjoy years ago. But I think the essential lesson remains the same—we need information and we need to be entertained.

There might come a time when artificial intelligence will render the TV extinct, but for the time being let us enjoy this wonderful box that has been our trusted companion, whether alone or in communion with others.




Manila Bulletin/Views/MannyVillar