A candid and personal examination of the Philippine comics scene from a social, cultural, economic and business point of view.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Media Demassification and Filipino Comics Part ONE


The three major mass media: print (newspapers, books, magazines), film (commercial films), and broadcast media (radio and television), arose out of the height of industrialization in the 20th century. During this time, the control and ownership of these media were confined either to the government or to a few private corporations and individuals.

Being products of an industrial age these three major media were termed as "second wave" media and their operations were characterized by a smokestack-like, factory managed system where its media products and images were mass produced in the millions on the assumption that the target mass audience had more or less standardized and homogenized tastes. In effect, the choice of media content was limited to the tastes and preferences of this one mass majority group oftimes at the expense of diverse minority audiences whose tastes and preferences were ignored.

With the arrival however of new technologies and increased market segmentation, the power and influence of second wave media progressively diminished worldwide during the latter part of the 20th century. This was the observation of acclaimed social thinker, Alvin Toffler, who said:

"The demassification of the media de-massifies our minds as well. During the second wave era the continual pounding of the standardized imagery pumped out by the media created what critics called a "massive mind". Today, instead of masses of people all receiving the same messages, smaller de-massified groups receive and send large amounts of their own imagery to one another. As the entire society shifts toward Third Wave diversity, the new media reflect and accelerate the process.

This in part explains why opinions on everything from pop music to politics are becoming less uniform. Consensus shatters. On a personal level, we are all besieged and blitzed by fragments of imagery, contradictory or unrelated, that shake up our old ideas and come shooting at us in the form of broken or disembodied "blips". We live, in fact, in a "blip culture". (Source: The Third Wave by Alvin Toffler, Bantam Books, 1981 edition).


To stress, the power and influence of traditional second wave media has been splintered, fractured and shared by more individuals and corporations who, because of increased market segmentation and new technology, were able to provide media content that cater to several diverse audience groups with distinct tastes and interests called "niches", that were previously ignored by second wave media.


Radio's influence for example, has diminished through the years with the advent of MTV, a music video cable channel launched in the 1980s, to MP3 in the 1990s, and more recently by the Apple I-Pod in the early 21st century.


Even commercial films are not immune having suffered stiff competition from cable television's movie channels, then by the video cassette recorder and betamax machines in the 1980s, the video compact disc and dvd players in the 1990s, to the digital camera and soon, online movies in the internet in the coming years.

Movie attendance in the United States particularly, is down. It was reported in the newly reformatted Manila Standard Today newspaper, that Summer 2005 was the worst since 1997 for movie attendance with a 9% drop in summer movie grosses from last year's $3.96 billion to 2005's $3.6 billion.

"What went wrong? "What didn't go wrong? That's the question," said Paul Dergarabedian, Exhibitor Relations president. "This was a summer that really could be characterized as under a cloud from the beginning. Usually, the first weekend in May, you have a big film that kind of kicks off the summer. It didn't happen that way this time, and that wa sort of an indicator of things to come."

Some movies did score big but the overall downturn lingered and then worsened, prompting gloom-and-doom predictions that audiences were growing tired of rising ticket prices, concession stand costs, preshow advertising and other movie theater hassles.

With so many other entertainment choices--video games, limitless TV programming, home theater setups--audiences may be edging away from moviehouses. In an Associated Press AOL News Poll inJune, nearly three-fourths of adults said they would prefer to stay home and watch movies on DVD, videotape, or pay-per-view rather than traipse to a theater. Almost half said they think movies are getting worse. Films suffered regardless of genre." (Source: "Hollywood worried about low ticket sales", Manila Standard Today newspaper, September 8, 2005 issue)


Television's mass audience has also been splintered by the arrival of cable and satellite television and its myriad channels serving different splintered audiences, electronic video recording, and electronic games in the 1980s to the internet, dvds, computer online games, and soon television on mobile phones.


Print media, especially newspapers and magazines, have suffered a progressive decline in circulation over the years in most countries worldwide (except China and India) especially today with the advent of the internet.

"Each of today's mass-circulated dailies now face increasing competition from a burgeoning flock of mini-circulation weeklies, bi-weeklies, and so-called "shoppers" that serve not the metropolitan mass market but specific neighborhoods and communities within it, providing far more localized advertising and news. Having reached saturation, the big city mass-circulation daily is in deep trouble. De-massified media are snapping at its heels." (Source: The Third Wave, Ibid.)

The almost worldwide rise of FREE newspapers in 2000 have also reduced advertising in major dailies. The free newspaper, unburdened by cover price, is now being read by more people in most countries worldwide with a high pass-on rate that ensures broader and immediate exposure for the printed advertisements inside. (Source: www.pcij.org/imag/Media/newspapers.html, and see "Paper Tigers" news article in The Economist, SEPTEMBER 10-16, 2005 issue.)

"From the mid-1950s on, hardly a year has passed without the death in the United States of a major magazine. "Life", the "Saturday Evening Post" --each went to its grave, later to undergo resurrection as a small-circulation ghost of its former self.

Between 1970 and 1977, despite a 14 million rise in U.S. population, the combined aggregate circulation of the remaining top twenty-five magazines dropped by 4 million.

Simultaneously, the United States experienced a population explosion of mini-magazines--thousands of brand new magazines aimed at small, special interest, regional, or ven local markets. Pilots and aviation buffs today can choose among literally scores of periodicals edited just for them. Teen-agers, scuba divers, retired people, women athletes, collectors of antique cameras, tennis nuts, skiers, and skateboarders have their own press. Regional magazines like "New York, New West", "D" in Dallas, or "Pittsburger" are all multiplying. Some slice the market up even more finely by both region and special interest--the "Kentucky Business Ledger" for example, for "Western Farmer".

With new, fast, cheap, short-run printing presses, every organization, community group, political or religious cult and cultlet today can afford to print its own publication. Even smaller groups churn out periodicals on the copying machines that have become ubiquitous in American offices. The mass magazine has lost its once powerful influence in national life. The de-massified magazine--the mini-magazine--is rapidly taking its place." (Source: The Third Wave by Alvin Toffler, Ibid.)

Even the Philippines is not spared from this phenomena. In a survey conducted in the third quarter of 2004 by A.C. Nielsen Media Research, covering 2,000 respondents aged 10 years and older from all socioeconomic classes in 31 cities in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, with a margin error of plus or minus 2 percentage points, it was found that overall readership for newspapers (broadsheet and tabloid) plunged by about 3% from 2003's 25.2%. Jay Bautista, Nielsen Media director, disclosed the findings as follows:

"Of the 2,000 repondents, 25.2 percent read newspapers (either broadsheet or tabloid or both) in 2004, down from 29.6 percent the previous year. Braodsheet readership dropped to 8.8 percent from 13.5 percent. Bautista noted that broadsheets were generally read by members of the upper and middle classes. They accounted for 55 percent of the broadsheets' reader base. Tabloids were more popular among the lower income classes. They represented more than 70 percent of the tabloids' reader base. Regional newspapers had the same reader profile as the tabloids." (Source: "PDI still most read newspaper, says poll", Philippine Daily Inquirer, October 10, 2005).

As will be shown in Part TWO of this entry, even the Philippine media is not immune to de-massification. And as previously mentioned elsewhere in this blog, Filipino komiks-magasins were the dominant print mass media in 1989 towering over traditional second wave media such as television, newspapers, magazines, radio, and newspapers. Yet it fell. What was de-massification's role if any, in the fall of traditional "second wave" Filipino komiks? We explore the issue in Part TWO.


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Blogger T.KESH said...

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Anonymous marie said...

seems like you have read the "third wave" by toffler pretty well. It would be my report in class as well and i read the book too but toffler presented a lot of points and i'm not sure where i should focus on. hope you can help me. thanks,, my e-mail address: newradicals123@gmail.com.

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