A few years back a giant broadcasting network prohibited its news anchors from endorsing products outside their network time. So most of the anchors, who probably made a killing endorsing canned tuna, brandy, and the like, grudgingly obliged. A popular couple left the network, moved to the rival network, and sued the old network for illegal dismissal. Last I heard, they lost the case. But I thought for a while that this entire episode in Philippine television was a triumph of ethics. Advertising is advertising, and news is news. If you have news anchors doing advertisement, it blurs the divide, and you run the risk of the public being led to believe that their product endorsements are news.
Of course, I was dead wrong. It was a triumph of network business bullies, instead. It appears that what they are doing now is worse. They are injecting advertisement directly into the news. This morning this lady reporter doing the traffic news tried to sell skin protection products while appearing to be doing a feature on traffic reporting. Before her segment went on air, the studio anchor introduced the traffic girl, and said that the reporter had something important to say. I popped up the volume a little, because I wanted to know if the number coding system was suspended today (it is). Then she went on air, telling us how she starts her report, where she stays during her Edsa Kamuning report, the difficulties in doing the traffic report, and concluded that, because of the heat, she had to use this skin protection lotion. I asked myself what the ...?
Another segment was introduced by the news anchor about a reporter who was in the bus terminal in Araneta Center Cubao, Quezon City. She started with the report on the people in the terminal and concluded with the PLDT Goldmine promo, which gave a chance for people who recruit PLDT subscribers to earn cash commissions and PHP 1 Million in a raffle. I shook my head, and decided it was time to blog this.
Last night, I was watching the early evening news of the same network, and I overheard an entire segment about what was happening in the telenovela being aired by the network. Since when has telenovela plotlines been news? Of course, that's an advertisement of the telenovela (which is probably heavy with advertisement itelf).
So indeed what might be happening now is that the network is cornering the endorsement business from the advertisers with such a clever scheme: putting the advertisement directly into the news. Too bad for the anchors, and too bad for the public.