1995 Flashback: The Rise and Fall of Citynet 27

Citynet 27 was the first UHF station owned by a major broadcast network. Sadly, the station lasted only six years and endured three major rebrands during that span. (Logo courtesy of GMA Network)

1995 was a memorable year in Philippine television. As part of a year-long special, From the Tube will look back at a year full of historical debuts, unforgettable moments, and celebrated feats in the history of television in the country.

ABS-CBN’s UHF TV network (currently ABS-CBN Sports+Action) has been on the air since 1996, but they’re not the first major network to have a sister UHF channel.

That distinction belonged to GMA Network’s original sister TV station, Citynet 27.  Established on August 27, 1995, the station became the fifth UHF TV network in the country, after SBN-21, DZEE-23 (the predecessor to ABS-CBN’s UHF channel), RJTV-29 and CTV-31.

Citynet 27’s initial focus was on canned programming (mostly from the U.S.), ranging from sitcoms, dramas and action series to sporting events. These programs were moved from GMA-7 in order for the latter to add more local programming.

The channel soon faced intense competition with the launch of Studio 23. While Citynet remained the premiere source for upscale-laden programs, it became clear that GMA is losing money from this venture, and by 1999, Studio 23’s continued emergence and popularity prove to be too much for Citynet to handle.

As a result, GMA had no choice but to reformat Citynet 27 into a music video channel. Initially known as EMC (Entertainment Music Channel), GMA soon joined forces with STAR TV to carry Channel V Philippines, and the rebranded station was launched near the end of 1999.

However, the partial acquisition of GMA’s stake by PLDT (later re-sold to Felipe Gozon, etc.) forced Channel V Philippines to sign off in mid-2001. Among the primary reasons include conflict of interest (PLDT owned MTV Philippines through Nation Broadcasting Company) and increasing competition with MTVPH and the newly-launched MYX.

GMA was left without a sister channel for the next four years. Then in 2005, they entered into a lease agreement with ZOE-TV and launched QTV (later rebranded as GMA News TV), with Channel 27 briefly serving as a repeater.

Today, DWDB 27 is currently inactive, possibly for future use as a digital TV outlet. The station would have turned 20 this year had GMA kept it active.

To this day, GMA continues to regret its failed experiment of Citynet 27. With the network now enduring some financial issues, they can only hope that the lessons of Citynet 27 will be applied to whatever decisions they will make moving forward.

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11 thoughts on “1995 Flashback: The Rise and Fall of Citynet 27

  1. GMA aired their newscasts primarily in Tagalog, while Citynet 27 used in English. They also have dedicated public affairs shows then.

    • The differences in programming content had to do with it. Though, GMA Network News remained in English until 1998, despite the fact that Citynet TV News is already in English.

  2. GMA 7 has now 10 years to Channel 11. Malabo pa rin na umalis sila sa Channel 11 because of loyalty of Bro. Villanueva to GMA Network and also there is no chance to revive Citynet 27.

      • Though, operating two VHF TV channels is costly to their pocket. That may be the reason why News TV is suffering in terms of content, all because GMA can only do so much with limited finances.

        Those limited finances may also be the reason why Channel 27 was shut down in 2001. GMA couldn’t compete with ABS and its strong financial muscle, especially after Studio 23 ventured into sports programming via the MBA and later on the UAAP.

      • Channel 27 is now used for GMA DTV, pero masyadong magastos na ang pagmamaintain ng dalawang VHF channels at the same time. Nagkandaleche-leche na ang programming both on GMA 7 and GMA News TV 11 these days, kahit pinagmamayabang ng GMA na #1 sila at #1 ang GMA News TV sa mga news channel. These huge expenses actually hurt GMA a lot, hence the streamlining of its regional operations.

        If we’re fully ready for digital, there are chances na magiging DTV subchannel na ang GMA News TV. There are also chances na buhayin ulit ang Citynet as a DTV subchannel, KUNG HINDI MAYABANG SI GOZON.

      • Indeed. There’s still hope that Channel 27 would be used, but if GMA were financially smart, they could have made the most of this opportunity. Sayang kasi yung pera nila mas nagiging limitado by the day.

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