Church mounts record-setting media coverage for 51st IEC

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Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Cardinal Quevedo, OMI reads a copy of the CBCP Monitor's Special IEC Issue (Photo by Rommel Lopez)

Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Cardinal Quevedo, OMI reads a copy of the CBCP Monitor’s Special IEC Issue (Photo by Rommel Lopez)

CEBU City, Jan. 30, 2016 – In a first in the modern history of International Eucharistic Congresses (IEC), the Church mounted a massive, multiplatform media coverage of the 51st staging of the IEC in the Philippines, involving 15 organizations and 250 personnel.

“It’s actually a lot of firsts, in  broadcast, print, radio and social media,” said Msgr. Pedro Quitorio, director of the CBCP Media Office and head of broadcast and media accreditation for the 51st IEC.
It’s the first time for an IEC to have a global satellite broadcast, with 12 hours of programming including coverage of remote sites in Cebu.

Because the IEC was not just a Catholic but a major international gathering that drew 15,000 participants from 75 countries, the Philippine Broadcast Pool under the auspices of Radio-Television Malacañang (RTVM) was activated, said Luis Enrico Eleazar, head of RTVM’s Media Production Division and Information and Technology Section.

“The plan was for a papal visit-style coverage,” Eleazar, a veteran  who assembled the broadcast operations for last year’s historic visit of Pope Francis and the Philippines’ successful APEC hosting, told CBCP News. “Iba ang tama sa akin ng papal visit (the papal visit made lasting impression on me). After that experience, excited kaming gawin ito (I was so excited to do this),” he said in an interview.


IEC Channel

State-of-the-art facilities and equipment, first used for the APEC meetings in Cebu, were again deployed for the IEC. The broadcast team put up the “IEC Channel” that carried 12 hours of programming, featuring all major IEC events and live and tape-delay broadcasts.

RTVM took charge of events at the IEC Pavilion and the International Media Center, aside from running the TOC or control room including the master switcher. The People’s Television Network was in-charge of outdoor broadcasts.

In all, there were 17 TV cameras, one ENG van, one OB van and four switches. Satellite operator Apstar Global provided the main satellite uplink  with the assistance of the Supreme Office of the Knights of Columbus. “We got a satellite that can reach up to Italy and also the US,” Eleazar said.

Video was also streamed live online and carried by top media outlets, receiving positive comments from netizens all over the world. Manny Pangilinan-led PLDT provided generous bandwidth, with 1 GB alone made available to the TOC.The IEC broadcast was picked up by Cignal TV and broadcast on two channels: Channel 99 for standard definition and Channel 199 for high definition. TV Maria likewise carried the broadcast while the Cebu Catholic Television Network or CCTN beamed it to viewers in Cebu, Mindanao and Asian clients.

For radio, Radyo Veritas broadcast IEC events to listeners in Luzon while DYRF handled Visayas and Mindanao on top of the stations of the Catholic Media Network.


Broadcast content

EWTN, the global Catholic network, was tapped for live and tape delay content, with Ma. Mercedes Robles, Angelique Lazo and Bernard Factor Cañaberal as well as Fr. Lorenzo Ruggiero and Fr. Joel Camaya, SDB, as anchors. Edwin Lopez, EWTN Asia-Pacific regional manager, put together a team of volunteers including Sydney-based Gerardo Cabellon as director.

“We have never done media coverage on this scale, ever,” Lopez said in an interview. “In the past, we  just covered the events and sent the  video to the satellite uplink. What happened here will last beyond our lifetime. It’s the best gift that the Philippine Church, the Archdiocese of Cebu can give to the next host of the IEC,” he added.

Lopez also moderated daily press conferences at the International Media Center, with mainstays such as Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma; Pasig Bishop Mylo Hubert Vergara, chairman of the IEC Communications Department; Msgr. Joseph Tan; and Fr. Jose Quilongquilong, who provided daily summaries of IEC proceedings.

EWTN itself broadcast IEC events to 230 million homes in 144 countries. Thirteen satellites picked up the signal and as a result, IEC events were viewed in China, France, Italy’s RAI, and CTV or Centro Televisivo Vaticano, Lopez said.


Daily newspapers

In yet another first for the IEC, CBCP News and Areopagus Communications produced daily special editions of the CBCP Monitor. Stories were also uploaded round the clock on, the website for the CBCP News special coverage of the 51st IEC, and shared on its official Facebook and Twitter accounts.

As of this writing, the Facebook page IEC2016SpecialCoverage has generated more than 36,000 likes, while the hashtag #EucharistPH generated as much as 37,235,807 impressions, Quitorio said.

“As a result, Church media became the news leader and a reliable source of information on the IEC for the secular media,” he added. CBCP and Areopagus deployed 25 personnel to Cebu, including  volunteers from Couples for Christ Global Mission Foundation who handled media accreditation using the Media Accreditation and Management System developed originally for the papal visit by Roman Paul Tesoro.

The Society of St. Paul also rolled out its own social media coverage, a new territory for the congregation known for its media apostolate, said Fr. Restie de la Peña, SSP. St. Paul’s deployed an army of 88  volunteers including three priests, two perpetually professed brothers, 23 seminarians, and students from the University of San Jose-Recoletos. “Our Facebook page had a total reach of 3 million in just two weeks,” de la Peña said.

St. Paul’s and the Order of Augustinian Recollects’ Recoletos Communications also produced video clips such as daily summaries, shown on giant screens at the IEC Pavilion.

EWTN’s Lopez said that what’s different this time was that Catholic media organizations were more cohesive than ever. As with every major undertaking involving several organizations, things tended to get disorganized at first.

“My takeaway from the IEC is this: that grace and freewill can cooperate,” Lopez said. (CBCP News)

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