(STAR) HIDDEN AGENDA By Mary Ann Ll. Reyes - Itís all about the ratings.

ABS-CBN has commissioned global market research organization TNS to conduct an independent nationwide survey of television ratings by the end of this year. TNS is also the second biggest research agency in the Philippines and an independent survey of TV ratings hopefully could put an end to speculations on who really is number one in the country.

Apparently, AC Nielsen, which used to conduct nationwide ratings, stopped going nationwide beginning February this year and decided to concentrate on Metro Manila, which unfortunately is not reflective of the provincial sentiments. In Metro Manila, ABS-CBN and its arch rival GMA 7 are neck-to-neck especially during the crucial noon time and prime time and a provincial survey would decide once and for all who is really the leading network in the country. During the third quarter, GMA accounted for 26 percent and ABS-CBN, 25 percent of the primetime (6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.) Forty percent of audience share went to GMA and 38 percent to ABS-CBN during the same timeslot.

As for noontime, both networks registered 20-percent ratings during the third quarter but in terms of audience share, GMA was slightly higher at 39 percent with ABS at 38 percent.

The numbers were more lopsided in favor of GMA last year when during prime time, said network registered ratings of 29 percent as against ABS-CBNís 23 percent, and an audience share of 45 percent compared to the latterís 45 percent.

The same was noticeable for noontime in 2005 when ABS accounted for only 19 percent as against GMAís 23 percent. GMAís audience share was 44 percent as against ABSís 36 percent.

With GMA still slightly leading in Metro Manila as of the third quarter of this year, the multi-million dollar question in the minds of advertisers is why it has not increased its rates while ABS has kept its rates high.

Music-loving Filipinos

Expect the Philippines not to be far behind.

Right now, South Korea and Japan dominate the mobile music market. Asia Pacific holds the largest market for services to download music onto cellular phones with sales worth $3.2 billion in 2005, according to Warner Music.

It is expected that for telecom operators facing declining average revenue per user (ARPU), providing subscribers with services to download music will become more important and Asia is the place to be.

Warner says that in contrast to declining voice ARPU however, data-driven ARPU is on the rise and that the bottomline is that rich data services such as music and music related content will help drive this growth further and faster.

In fact, to tap into the growing popularity of mobile music downloads, Warner Music Goup is transforming itself from a pure recording company to include work with content service providers, like video-sharing website YouTube, to promote its stable of artists.

The US recording label has also invested millions of dollars on popular Asian artists like Japanís Rip Slyme, Thailandís Carabao, Indonesiaís Jikustik to tap the growing popularity of music downloads in the region.

Warner officials say the future of music definitely does not rest on simply exporting Western superstars and that on the consumption side, Asia Pacific already constitutes a healthy 20 percent of the global recorded music market and is the largest mobile music region in the world.

While local telcos say that text messaging still accounts for the largest bulk of profits, revenues from downloads are fast growing. This includes music downloads.

Downplay or cover-up

A provincial news report says that two months since the oil spill in Guimaras began, the sunken MT Solar 1 remains at the bottom of the Guimaras Strait and continues to leak bunker oil, displacing over 40,000 residents and destroying the environment. But apparently, the International Oil Pollution Compensation or IOPC wants the media to downplay the environmental disaster and instead focus on the positive.

It says that according to IOPC deputy director Joe Nichols, the media is fond of presenting pictures of "human blue, ecological disaster" and beaches soiled with bunker fuel.

I agree with the National Union of Journalists of the Phils or NUJP that media only reports what it hears and sees. Nichols praised Petron for its clean-up operations and said that the oil refiner is equally a victim and should be helped anyway, even as he warned the media that Guimaras may not recover from its economic and tourism losses "because media always played negative comments."

Media is a necessary evil in a democracy and instead of complaining, IOPC and Petron should fast-track their clean-up efforts. Their foot dragging is what is destroying Guimaras, not mediaís commentaries.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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