For the past few months, ABS-CBN has been airing the weeknight stand-up comedy program ‘Banana Nite’, a spin-off of ‘Banana Split‘, after the late-night news program ‘Bandila‘. This was a marked departure from the late-night public affairs programs it used to air. If you were a news buff, you may remember recent programs ‘Patrol ng Pilipino‘, ‘Ako ang Simula‘, ‘Storyline’, XXX: Exklusibong, Explosibong Expose’, and ‘Krusada‘ airing on the timeslot after ‘Bandila’ before they were replaced by ‘Banana Nite’. For some reason, it is quite a gamble for the network to shift from serious late-night news programming to a more lighter tone.
When ‘Banana Nite’ debuted on the late-night slot, it went head-to-head against GMA’s public affairs programs such as ‘I-Witness’, ‘Born to be Wild’ and ‘Reporter’s Notebook‘, and TV5’s ‘Reaksyon’, and it continues to this day. However, its supposed counterparts GMA’s ‘The Tim Yap Show’ and TV5’s ‘Medyo Late Night with Jojo A.’ air only after the public affairs programs have finished airing. The decision to place a stand-up comedy program immediately after the late-night news raised my eyebrows a bit. Why? Because ABS-CBN’s news department gave their all in producing great current affairs programs to great reviews. These programs have been quite successful in my mind, and they should have stayed there.
However, the fact that the lack of accolades ABS-CBN’s news department have been receiving was partly to blame for the network axing its public affairs programs in favor of ‘Banana Nite’. GMA’s news department have been able to rake up both regional and global accolades for its strong, creative and informative reports, particularly on its ‘I-Witness’ program. While I have criticized GMA News TV for its inability to handle a full 24-hour slate of programming, among other reasons, they have nevertheless made that up with a high-quality and globally recognized brand of news reporting, something that ABS-CBN’s department need to work out if they want to capture a Peabody Award like GMA did. In addition, the network was getting tired of the serious tone that their programs have been airing after ‘Showtime’ that they decided to put a comedy show in the late night slot in order to give viewers some relief and amusement.
Good thing I don’t watch either ‘Banana Nite’ or ‘Banana Split’ for the fact that stand-up comedy needs to be served only on cable networks because of language and other offending factors (see Vice Ganda’s joke on Jessica Soho). And it’s good that GMA 7 is not producing one similar to ‘Banana Split’ because they already have ‘Bubble Gang’, a gag show that is longer, lighter and highly acclaimed than ‘Banana Split’ itself. In any event, ABS-CBN may have either started a new late-night programming approach or watered down its own news programming, something they can’t ill-afford to lose.