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Philippine Cable and Digital Channels Face Issue of Redundancy

Hero is one of several cable channels in the Philippines that was shut down this year due to redundancy in content. (Logo courtesy of Creative Programs Inc.)

Redundancy has become a common theme for cable and digital channels in the Philippines.

In the first half of 2018 alone, viewers witnessed a closure of numerous cable channels in the country. On the local side of the spectrum, there was Hero, TAG, ABS-CBN Regional Channel, CT and 2nd Avenue, and on the international front there was Toonami.

There were also some rebrandings and resurrections of several channels as well. CPI made LIGA the second coming of Balls in time for the FIFA World Cup (replacing ARC, TAG and Hero in the process) while rebranding Lifestyle into Metro Channel, and then the MVP Group converted Bloomberg Philippines into One News.

So why do these things happen to our beloved cable and digital channels? The most cited reason is financial constraints, but it goes deeper than that.

When two channels air similar content with one another, redundancy happens. This is exactly the case that befell the likes of Hero, TAG, CT, 2nd Avenue and Toonami because they feature similar themes and genres with one or several channels.

Hero and Toonami, for example, became victims of cord-cutters and other channels such as Cartoon Network, Boomerang, AniPlus, Animax and even Yey!, which show some anime and action series as well. Same with CT and 2nd Avenue who share some of the programming with sister channels Jack TV and ETC.

Going further back, CPI shut down Velvet in 2014 and moved some of its content over to Lifestyle. Four years later, Lifestyle was rebranded into Metro Channel and is now essentially a second coming of Velvet.

There is also LIGA, which was launched for the FIFA World Cup but is expected to face similar redundancy issues as Balls since its only other source of content are events that air on ABS-CBN S+A. Finally, the rebrand from Bloomberg Philippines to One News has made AksyonTV (a former news channel-turned-T5N clone) redundant, something the MVP Group must address moving forward.

However, redundancy is not limited to cable channels alone. Yey!, for example, has a movie block called ‘Kid Sine’, but some of the films shown here are also aired on sister channel CineMo (under the CineFantasya and CineKomedya blocks).

Yey! also airs reruns of ‘Your Face Sounds Familiar Kids’ while CineMo rebroadcasts ‘Ang Probinsyano’ and ‘Bagani’ on weekends. Such reruns should have been exclusive to Jeepney TV.

These are just some of the examples that face cable and digital channels today. Considering the competitive nature of this business, trying to stay unique and distinct in terms of content is not as easy as it looks.

So the best that these channels can do right now is to remain innovative and wide-eyed to the audience while keeping themselves afloat. This juggling act may be difficult, but when done properly, they can stay on the air for a long period of time.

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Blurring the Lines: Is CineMo Finally Ready to Accept Drama and Romance Films?

The movie ‘Ikaw na Sana’ was aired on CineMo as part of the CineKomedya block, but was classified as a romantic drama film. (Photo courtesy of Video48 and Viva Films)

Talk about a tone shift.

CineMo, an ABS-CBN digital TV channel, has been on the airwaves for the past seven years. However, its content has stayed basically the same, airing comedy, action, suspense, sexy and fantasy films from the get-go.

But in the past few weeks, movies from the romance and drama genres began to air on CineMo as well. Such films were aired on the channel’s CineKomedya block, but for whatever reason they do not feel like comedy films at all.

Take for instance the recent airing of the film ‘Ikaw na Sana’. The movie was an adaptation of the television series that aired on GMA some 20 years ago, and it starred Bobby Andrews and Angelu de Leon alongside Gladys Reyes and Jake Roxas.

Unfortunately for CineMo, ‘Ikaw na Sana’ was labeled as a romantic drama film. And considering the film did not have any funny jokes or comedic bits, it was not appropriate for it to air on the CineKomedya block.

There were also other films that aired on CineKomedya that do not appear to be humorous at all. Some of these films foreshadowed the modern romantic comedy drama series that air on ABS-CBN these days, but for the most part tears were shed more than laughs.

With that in mind, is it the perfect time for CineMo to accept romance and drama films to the fold? Considering that they have been repeatedly airing most of the same films over and over again, perhaps it is the right time to do so.

CineMo could launch new drama and romance blocks titled CineDrama and CineRomansya on timeslots normally reserved to action and comedy flicks. That way, films from the romance and drama genres can be aired without any confusion and concern from the viewer.

Not only that, CineMo will have a deeper reservoir thanks to these films. That said, having romance and drama films on the channel does help in attracting the young and feminine audience more, even though the channel is more catered to working-class males.

The ball is now on CineMo’s court to score. One can only hope that the channel will dig deep and go beyond their comfort zone with these tearjerkers.

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Around the Mediaverse: ARC, TAG Sign Off; Rappler Stripped of Registration

More sad news in Philippine cable television.

At midnight of January 15, the ABS-CBN Regional Channel and TAG permanently signed off the air. According to Creative Programs Inc., they cite a ‘change in business direction’ for the closure of the two channels.

The ARC was launched on August 1, 2016 in another attempt to make ABS-CBN Regional programs available outside its respective regional footprint. However, like the Sarimanok Channel (now the ABS-CBN News Channel), ARC was beset by various problems from the start and its inability to gain support from the mother network eventually led to its downfall.

Two months later, on October 19, TAG signed on, showing Tagalized foreign films. However, it also endured its fair share of problems, the most obvious of which is redundancy due to the fact that the films shown in the channel are also aired on sister channels such as ABS-CBN, CineMo, Cinema One and Yey!.

CPI will also end broadcast of the anime channel Hero on January 31. More on that in a future article.

Rappler Registration Revoked

Later that afternoon, some breaking news involving a rising media outlet shook the world of journalism. The Securities and Exchange Commission announced that it revoked its registration of Rappler due to an alleged violation of a rule regarding foreign ownership of media companies.

The SEC claimed that Rappler is being controlled by the Omidyar Network, a fund created by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar. Rappler denied this statement, saying that the company is ‘100% Filipino-owned’ and that Omidyar is only an investor.

Rappler’s reported revocation of its registration was vehemently criticized by the likes of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility and the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines, saying that it violated the rights of freedom of speech and the press. Malacañang denied these claims, saying Rappler violated constitutional rules and that it has nothing to do with President Rodrigo Duterte’s criticism of the outlet.

This said rule regarding the ban on foreign ownership of media companies has been in place since the 1970s. It can be recalled that GMA Network owner Robert ‘Uncle Bob’ Stewart sold the company to Felipe Gozon, Gilberto Duavit and Menardo Jimenez due to said rule, and MPB Primedia was also forced to sell its share of TV5 to Manny V. Pangilinan.

Despite its revocation, Rappler said it will continue to operate and will exhaust all legal efforts in order to reconsider SEC’s decision. Good luck with that.

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TV5 Pulls Out Cartoon Network Shows, Refurbish Lineup Anew with NFL, Cockfighting, Japan Japan and Amo

What is Chot Reyes thinking?

When viewers tuned in to TV5 on the first week of September, one noticeable aspect of their programming is missing. It turns out that the Tagalized cartoons from Cartoon Network and Boomerang have been pulled out of the network, possibly due to the expiration of a contract between the two parties.

As a result, the network is once again living and dying with Tagalized movies and TV shopping blocks in the morning and afternoon. However, this latest development is not the only surprise that greeted viewers.

Tomorrow morning, TV5 will bring the NFL anew to the small screen. Except that the game is not the Super Bowl but an opening night contest between the New England Patriots and the Kansas City Chiefs.

It can be recalled that it was ABS-CBN’s S+A that aired Super Bowl LI last February when TV5 could not accommodate said game. Now that TV5 has opened a gigantic hole in the morning, it is highly likely that they will carry some NFL football live all season.

Continuing the ‘Choose Courage’ theme that Chot Reyes implemented this year, TV5 also acquired a pair of refugees from the beleaguered IBC-13. Anyone who is a fan of sending roosters to the cockpit may remember ‘Tukaan’ and ‘Bakbakan’ right?

Both shows were long-time staples of IBC-13’s seemingly moribund lineup. But with the network poised to take its long-overdue process of privatization, they had no choice but to give up the two programs, and luckily TV5 was there to save them from extinction.

Another new show in TV5’s lineup is ‘Japan Japan’, a travel and lifestyle reality show starring Yachang and the Kawaii Pinays. Produced by the same company that brought ‘Amachan’ to the network, ‘Japan Japan’ takes a look at the various scenic destinations in Japan from the perspective of Filipino travelers and Yachang himself.

Finally, TV5 will bring the long-awaited Brillante Mendoza mini-series ‘Amo’ to the small screen. This 12-episode take on the country’s drug-related killings was originally slated to begin August 20, but the network’s coverage of Gilas in the 2017 Southeast Asian Games pushed back its premiere to this Sunday night.

Chot Reyes’ ‘Choose Courage’ vision is indeed alive and well, sort of. However, it’s still baffling to see more of the same old ‘Shop Japan’, ‘EZ Shop’ and Tagalized movies on the same roof, and unless TV5 can find a way to minimize said programs, they will not be perceived as being ‘courageous’ as their CEO emphasizes.

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In 100 Words: TV5’s ‘Choose Courage’ Station ID

TV5 under Chot Reyes is all about ‘courage’.

The network’s latest station ID was unveiled two weeks ago, and it featured the network’s newest offerings summarized in a one-minute film. The message of the station ID was simple: people should always overcome challenges and find the strength to escape fear.

As far as the station ID goes, the message may be prophetic, but what is the point when there are still some weaknesses to address. Remember the talk about TV shopping and News5 show reruns, not to mention all the problems that AksyonTV faces?

That said, unless Chot Reyes addresses these glaring issues, the ‘Choose Courage’ slogan that TV5 projects this year will not apply today. Until then, TV5 must take the long road in order to prove that they are indeed ‘courageous’.

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ABS-CBN Wins All Timeslots Last Monday According to Kantar

Not even AlDub’s much-anticipated primetime debut can stop ABS-CBN from reaching an immaculate record.

On Monday, February 27, all ABS-CBN programs defeated their respective GMA counterparts in the ratings, according to Kantar Media. This includes a rare victory for ‘Magandang Buhay’ (8.1%), as it swept all of GMA’s Astig Authority block (‘Ghost Fighter’ (5.9%), ‘Pokemon XY’ (6.7%) and ‘Bleach’ (7.3%)) and the European fantasy series ‘Wolfblood’ (6.8%).

As always, ABS-CBN’s usual suspects dominate the list, with the network continuing to prevail from late morning to late night. Six of the top ten slots belong to ABS-CBN programs, with ‘Ang Probinsyano”s 42.8% leading the way.

Even the network’s programs in the wee hours earned a victory as well. The 4:00-5:30 a.m. slot was won by ‘O Shopping’ (0.4%) and a rerun of ‘Mga Kwento ni Marc Logan’ (1 %) over ‘Reporters Notebook’ (0.9%), while the 11:45-1:00 a.m. slot was won by ‘Mission Possible’ (1.8%) and ‘O Shopping’ (0.9%) over ‘The 700 Club Asia’ (1.2%) and ‘EZ Shop’ (0.6%) respectively.

But the highlight of the day was the matchup between newcomer ‘Destined to Be Yours’ and ‘My Dear Heart’. The former, starring Alden Richards and Maine Mendoza, entered the night with high expectations, and considering the duo’s popularity in the last two years, the series was poised to get off to a sizzling start.

Instead, it was fellow young star Ria Atayde who turned heads. Her debut as Margaret’s (Coney Reyes) daughter Gia helped ‘My Dear Heart’ defeat ‘Destined to Be Yours’ 29.1 to 20.2%.

And finally, two shows that are normally affected by ABS-CBN Regional’s own programming managed to beat the odds. Both ‘Umagang Kay Ganda’ (5.2%) and ‘Minute to Win It’ (14%) prevailed over ‘Unang Hirit’ (4 %) and ‘Wowowin’ (13.7%) respectively, despite getting preempted by ABS-CBN Regional morning shows and ANR-produced ‘TV Patrol’.

Overall, it was thorough domination on the part of ABS-CBN. No one knows when will this rare wire-to-wire win will take place again, but one thing is for sure: ABS-CBN continues to reign as the Philippines’ top network.

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