Tuning in to Mike Enriquez “Saksi sa Dobol B” and “Super Balita sa Umaga-Nationwide!” every morning is a daily ritual in our home, especially for my grandfather. At eighty-six years old, he is a big news junkie. We in the family had become so accustomed to hearing Enriquez every morning that it serves like an alarm clock for us.
Knowing that I am taking up a course in Mass Communication, my grandfather always tell me that it’s good to be a radio block timer. He frequently says: “Kapag block-timer ka, kumuha ka ng mga sponsor. Tingnan mo yan si Mike (Enriquez), pa-Arthro-Arthro lang (food supplement) pero ang laki ng kinikita.”
Of course, the audience-drawing power of Enriquez makes his program very enticing to advertisers. Also, his radio program airs during the peak hours of AM radio (around 6:00-9:00 AM). There is nothing wrong with getting advertisers for a news program because they provide the latter much needed revenues. However, there is something unique in the way some products get promoted during Enriquez’ program.
I have tuned in to his morning news program “Super Balita sa Umaga-Nationwide!” with Joel Reyes Zobel last Friday, January 11, 2008. Enriquez is known for his loud and exaggerated way of news reading. He also gained notoriety among media critics for reading advertisements as news- in a manner which would make it difficult for a listener to distinguish if it is still part of the news. Here’s a transcript of his word of mouth ad for Arthro food supplement.
“Alam nyo mga kapuso, Enero ngayun. Malamig na naman ang panahon, uso na naman ang Aray-tiis (a pun of Arthritis). Masakit na naman ang ating mga kasu-kasuhan…”
During the one hour that I listened to his show, I was able to list down a total of eight ads he read as news. The ads were aired during the duration of his news program with Joel Reyes Zobel at around 7:10 to 8:10 AM.
1. Banco de Oro loans (read twice)
2. NFA Rice and the Government’s Anti-Hunger Task Force
3. Kariza Homes
4. Centrum Multivitamins
7. Gargle Mouthwash
I know that radio stations are utterly dependent on ad revenues to survive but to read the ads as news without proper distinctions is not good. I am not at all in favor with the way Enriquez gives “special treatment” to his advertisers. I think that such an act diminishes the credibility of journalists. This shall be the case even if one might argue that it doesn’t affect the way he delivers the news.
Radio broadcasters need to exert extra effort to make the distinction clearer unlike in television wherein you can easily determine that a certain feature is a paid advertisement since it is clearly indicated at the top of your TV screens (like in GMA 7’s Unang Hirit).
The practice in DZBB is in clear contrast with that in ABS-CBN wherein those involved in the News Department are never allowed to endorse products themselves. Those who deliver hard news in ABS-CBN’s sister station, DZMM, can never be heard doing a voice-over for any ads.
Being the head of GMA Network’s Radio Operations, Enriquez wields influence and sets the standards for his fellow broadcasters. Because of the way he reads ads, other in DZBB seem to have followed suit. Joel Reyes Zobel also reads the ads as news in his daily afternoon program “Bangon na, Bayan!” (3:00-5:00 PM). I have also heard Rene Sta. Cruz read certain ads in that way (he can be heard at around 11:00 AM).
For DZBB, it seems that reading paid advertisements as news is a corporate affair. Anyway, I realize that I shouldn’t be that surprised since GMA Network doesn’t prohibit their news persons (even those who deliver hard news) from not only reading radio advertisements but as far as letting them endorse certain products in television commercials, (like Surf Powder for Arnold Clavio and Champion Detergent for Mel Tiangco).
Enriquez could have done better by pre-recording the ads and have the sound bite played during the program gaps. This is the practice of other broadcasters like Winnie Cordero of DZMM’s “Todo-todo, Walang Preno” (aired weekdays 10:30-12:00 noon with Ariel Ureta). She does advertisements for Rite-Med and Vaseline shampoo. This is also the case of DZEC’s Ka Totoy Talastas (“Liwanagin Natin”, weekdays 7:30-9:00 am).
In this manner, you can easily determine that the advertisement is not at all part of the news. Enriquez can also do better by recording ad sound bites as a sponsor of time-check or a certain program segment. This is the case of DZMM’s “Tambalang Failon at Sanchez” (weekdays, 8:30-10:30 am), hosted by Ted Failon and Korina Sanchez, wherein Petron Xtra Unleaded sponsors the program’s traffic update.
Mr. Oscar T. Serquina, a speech communication instructor in UP Diliman:
Does the trend that Mike Enriquez set as a broadcaster-cum-advertiser good for media persons and for the media industry in general? Aren’t there any conflicts of interest in terms of profession? Does this help or does it wobble up the credibility/integrity/ethos of a news reporter or a broadcast journalist? Imagine Korina Sanchez promoting Olay Moisturizer, and saying the lines: “My skin became firmer, my pores became smaller, at ang mga lines, nawala!” The horror!
(*This was originally posted in my Multiply page in January 2008)