news, Philippines, public affairs, television

GMA News TV Does Sleep

GMA News TV

Despite its designation as a news network, GMA News TV does not air 24 hours a day, uncharacteristic for a network devoted to news coverage. (Logo courtesy of GMA Network).

During every broadcast of the GMA 7 news program 24 Oras, they would always end their program with the tagline ‘Hindi Natutulog ang Balita (The News Never Sleeps)’. But it is not always the case, especially when GMA has its own news network.

GMA News TV was launched on February 28, 2011. It claims to be the No. 1 news network in the Philippines based on NUTAM ratings. However, the network does not air 24 hours/day, and is usually off the air during Holy Week. Now here I think are the reasons why they do not air 24/7.

Funding Issues

GMA News TV is a VHF television station, airing on the Channel 11 frequency, which means that maintaining the airtime of the station is expensive at times. Let’s face it, most of the money GMA 7 spent is on lavish production of their teleseryes and variety shows, which means they usually neglect the most important aspect of television viewing: news production. And as I’ve mentioned before, they also do not allocate those funds on sports coverage. And unlike ABS-CBN and TV5, GMA is not owned by a conglomerate. Which leads to this next reason.

Lack of Variety in Programming

With only an average of 20 hours of programming time, GMA News TV’s programming lineup is not as deep as ANC’s or Aksyon TV’s. Most of the weekday programming is used to air reruns of former GMA 7 public affairs programs, classic Filipino or foreign movies, and religious programs like The 700 Club Asia. On weekends, they air programs produced by the Zoe Broadcasting Network, along with more GMA 7 program reruns and classic films. The lack of depth in terms of programming explains why GMA News TV, despite its name, is not a true news network. This leads to the next reason.

Less News Than Expected

The network’s flagship news programs were Balitanghali and State of the Nation. However, they focused mainly on national news, crime stories and showbiz news, typical of news programs like TV Patrol and 24 Oras. This is an example of ‘tabloid’ news programming, commonly found on cheaper tabloid newspapers that only the poor can afford. I expected more from GMA News TV with regards to expansive news coverage, but with the emphasis on ‘tabloid’ than ‘broadsheet’ reporting, I don’t think this network has what it takes to be a device for gathering national and global news, along with human interest stories. Worse, their use of a ticker is not enough; more updated stats and information need to be flashed on-screen. And finally,…

Reluctance for Press Conferences

Whenever there is a press conference, Aksyon TV and ANC would immediately cut to live coverage of an ongoing briefing while public affairs programming are being aired. This is not usually the case for GMA News TV. They rarely cut to live press conference of national significance while a program is on air; instead they wait for a commercial break before they cut to live. Worse, they would only have at least two minutes to report on an ongoing press conference. Again this is an example of how GMA News TV presents its news, in a swift but shallow manner.

GMA News TV is not the epitome of GMA News and Public Affairs‘ slogan ‘Serbisyong Totoo (True Service)’. If they were to truly embrace a comprehensive and deep news coverage, they need to know how to build a true news network from the ground up, from operational costs to updated technological devices and extensive use of their news website GMANews.tv. But right now, they are not a true news network based on their programming lineup and airing hours, and their claim to be the No. 1 such network is not a way to measure their worth and credibility as a device for reporting the latest news.

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