To mark TV Patrol’s 25 years in the broadcast media industry, ABS-CBN presents “Mga Nagbabagang Balita: 25 Taon ng TV Patrol,” a documentary on the journey and evolution of its flagship newscast in the last quarter of a century.
The documentary traces the humble beginnings of TV Patrol and the historical context by which it came to be – a little more than a year after the 1986 EDSA Revolution.
It also confronts some issues the program had to face: the ratings game, allegations of bias and adverse news events involving the network’s programs and personalities, and some ABS-CBN journalists’ foray into politics, among other things.
Also depicted are the difficulties and challenges the program encountered along the way, the triumphs and recognition, criticisms on its reportage, and the memorable stories that defined the program and helped shape Philippine contemporary history.
“Mga Nagbabagang Balita” airs on July 29 for Sunday’s best, 11:15pm to 1:15am on ABS-CBN Channel 2.
The Start of TV Patrol
Federico “FMG” Garcia, former president of ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation, said that when the press claimed its freedom once again after the 1986 EDSA Revolution, they did a little survey on what the Filipino masses would want to see in a newscast.
“Nakita namin na binabasa talaga ng masa eh, tabloid. Newspaper na tabloid. At ang tabloid ay sensational stories ‘di ba, kidnapping, murders, etc.,” he said, adding that stories such as these are the ones that directly affect people’s lives.
So they then decided to produce TV Patrol and use tabloid-style reportage. TV Patrol was named after Radyo Patrol, which was a big success in DZMM, the biggest and most successful radio news organization in the country before Martial Law.
ABS-CBN’s current Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Eugenio Lopez III said TV Patrol had the highest ratings throughout the primetime programming when they first introduced it in the country.
According to Lopez, “It rated higher in any primetime program after it. Of course, we are very proud of the beginnings of TV Patrol. It made a difference.”
He also said that despite the common thinking that the entertainment programs would generate the highest revenues, TV Patrol was actually the “highest-grossing program in the early years.”
The TV Patrol Legacy
News and Current Affairs Division Head Regina “Ging” Reyes said, “It (TV Patrol) has become a part of people's lives. Maaaring din nating sabihin na oo, nakatulong ito sa pagbabago, sa pag-aksyon ng gobyerno, sa paghuhubog ng polisiya at sa ilang pagkakataon sa pagkatupad ng mga pangarap kasi nagbibigay rin tayo ng mga public service sa iba nating kababayan.”
She also said that the ABS-CBN’s flagship newscast has indeed become part of the Filipino pop culture and left a huge mark on Filipinos’ everyday lives.
Korina Sanchez, one of TV Patrol’s anchors, said it has become a mirror of reality and of everything that happens in the society. She also said that the program has been relating to its viewers different news events that could have an impact on them; thus, making them more aware and well-informed of what’s going on around them.
“’Yan naman din ang parang pinakapuno’t dulo na gustong mangyari ng TV Patrol -- na maipakita ang realidad, ang maganda ay magaya, at ang masama ay sana hindi na maulit.”
Former Executive Producer of TV Patrol Becky Cabral said that during her stay as the program’s executive producer, TV Patrol was able to top all newscasts. “It went on for so many years na nandun ako. Hindi talaga kami natatalo ng kalaban. And the gap was really huge. Walang makahabol.”
“I just feel blessed na naging part ako ng TV Patrol,” Cabral said.
The Power of TV Patrol
TV Patrol’s primary role is to deliver the news to its viewers. But it has also become an active venue for journalists to voice out their freedom of speech, especially when reporting on how the government is performing its duties for the people.
Sanchez said, “Ni sa panaginip ‘di mo maiisip na magkakaroon ng pagkakataon ang isang mamamahayag na (magsabing) ‘Walang kwenta ang gobyernong ito!’ o ‘Hindi ginagawa ng departamentong ito ang trabaho nito!’”
She was pertaining to “Hoy Gising,” a former segment of the program’s newscast, which she said really pushed the limits of their freedom, “hindi bilang mamamahayag lamang kung hindi bilang mga mamamayan na nabigyan ng ganyang klase ng kapangyarihan na magkaroon ng say, ng boses sa pamamalakad ng bayan.”
According to TV Patrol anchor Ted Failon, some of the most watched segments of TV Patrol were the police reports and the PULSO or Pangkalahatang Ugnayan Laan Sa Opinyon, which discuss the masses’ views and opinions on particular issues.
“Araw-araw may pinupulsuhan sila at siyempre nandoon din ‘yung kagat naman sa usapin ng showbiz. ‘Yung mixture ng lahat ng klase ng balita na gustong malaman ng tao nandoon eh,” he said.
Being a “Working Journalist”
On being “working journalists,” TV Patrol news anchors Noli de Castro and Failon said their primary roles are to really know the facts behind the news they present everyday in TV Patrol.
“Ayokong nagbabasa lang ako. Kinakailangang may ginagawa ako sa TV Patrol. Ayokong tawagin lang akong news reader. Gusto kong tawagin akong news caster,” de Castro said.
Likewise, Failon said, “’Yung kaalaman mo kung papano ka kumalap ng balita at mabuo mo ang isang istorya ay napakalaking bagay doon sa pundasyon ng pagiging anchor mo, na hindi ka lamang tagapagbasa ng balita.”
They both shared that up to now, even as anchors, they still do their own stories for TV Patrol instead of leaving the work to the program’s news writers. Their advantage is that they can choose what stories they would want to pursue, depending on what they cover in their various television and radio programs.
De Castro said, “At least alam ko talaga kung anong binabalita namin. Alam ko kung mahalaga ang balita. Alam ko (kung anong) gusto ng tao. ‘Yun ang nangyayari sa TV Patrol.”
Failon said, “For example, may binubuo akong istorya, pwede kong sabihin na ‘I was there. I saw it. I felt it. I touched it. I smelled it.’”
Congratulating TV Patrol’s 25 years in the broadcast media, Lopez said that the program continues to have good ratings. “Then you know our anchors are going out of the field. Kailangan talaga nakikita sila sa field, not just in the studio. So we feel that (they) continue to play (their) roles,” he added.
The need for change and improvement
“Hindi naman laging nasa top ang TV Patrol. Kinakailangan i-improve mo: sa laman ng balita, kung paano mo i-pre-present ‘yung balita, the technology,” de Castro said.
Lopez likewise said that just like any program, TV Patrol had to evolve. He admitted that ABS-CBN’s main competitor, GMA Channel 7, was able to top the program’s ratings in the previous years.
But he said TV Patrol was able to come back and boost its ratings by improving its story-telling techniques. “I think story-telling is a major component of how you create a good news channel.”
While the use of social media is currently on the rise, Lopez wants to make sure TV Patrol takes advantage of it, especially that it is being considered as an “important element of change.”
“We have to adjust and make sure that TV Patrol continues to be relevant regardless of the platform it’s appearing (on),” Lopez said.