cable TV, entertainment, movies, news, Philippines, politics, public affairs, Sports, television

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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news, Philippines, politics, public affairs, television

SerenoSerye Over: Sereno’s Ouster as Chief Justice Now Final

Consider it final, official and irrevocable.

Over a month after Supreme Court justices voted in favor of ousting erstwhile Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno via quo warranto, the court decided to formally vacate the position of Chief Justice after rejecting Sereno’s motion for reconsideration to reverse the ruling. President Rodrigo Duterte will now have 90 days to pick a new Chief Justice.

The saga surrounding Sereno had been well-documented for the past several months. It began in August when Atty. Larry Gadon filed articles of impeachment to Congress that questioned Sereno’s missing assets, liabilities and net worth.

A lengthy series of hearings followed at the Batasan Pambansa that ran from September 2017 to February 2018. Throughout the course of the hearings, Supreme court justices and staff testified in front of the House Committee of Justice and they added further detail to Sereno’s misdeeds in the years prior to becoming Chief Justice.

In March, the Justice Committee overwhelmingly approved the articles of impeachment filed against Sereno. But just as the impeachment process began to roll along, Solicitor General Jose Calida filed a quo warranto petition that seeks to invalidate Sereno’s appointment.

Last May, the Supreme Court voted 8-6 in favor of the quo warranto, removing Sereno from the Chief Justice post. Later that month, Sereno filed a motion for reconsideration that sought to reverse the court’s original ruling, which was then quashed by another 8-6 vote Tuesday afternoon.

With the court’s ruling now final, Atty. Gadon’s impeachment complaint is now deemed ‘moot’ and ‘academic’ by the House of Representatives, and is expected to be terminated. It also means that the possible third Senate impeachment trial of the current millennium will no longer materialize.

Had the quo warranto not been filed and approved, viewers would have had a field day watching the proceedings at the Senate. But as it stands now, there will not be a repeat of what happened in the impeachment trials of former President Joseph Estrada and former Chief Justice Renato Corona, in which high drama and tension filled the Senate.

Now that Maria Lourdes Sereno is no longer the Chief Justice, the so-called “SerenoSerye” is officially over. It was a long and exhaustive procedure to say the least, but for the many people involved in the drama, it was worth telling.

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Messed Up: 24 Oras’ Drastic Graphics Overhaul Perplexes Viewers

Welcome to ‘Extreme Makeover: 24 Oras Edition’.

This past week saw an overhaul of ’24 Oras” on-screen graphics. From the looks of it, though, the newscast seems to imitate the styles of one particular news outlet and another news program that airs on GMA.

Flashback to one week ago. This was how GMA’s flagship primetime newscast looked on-screen last time.

Exhibit A: 24 Oras

Exhibit B: 24 Oras Weekend

On Monday, however, GMA News unveiled an updated graphics package for ’24 Oras’. The newscast’s logo is shrunk in size, moved to the right and is now enveloped in a red square, while the headline/detail text box moved to the left and the digital clock was removed in favor of a longer news ticker.

The initial look did not sit well with viewers as the style was obviously copied from CNN and its affiliates (particularly CNN Philippines). Take a look at the comparison below.

Tuesday saw a minor tweak in ’24 Oras” graphics package. The logo and headline/detail text box changed positions, perhaps in response to criticisms surrounding the previous style.

This update stayed that way the following day, but on Thursday, another new wrinkle arrived. The news ticker went from black to blue while the detail box went from red to blue.

For starters, blue is the main color used on GMA’s late-night newscast ‘Saksi’ (see video below). Which makes it all the more perplexing as to why ’24 Oras’ would use a color that is not distinctly theirs.

Finally, ’24 Oras Weekend’ released its update graphics package this weekend. It was almost the same look as the one used the prior week, except that the digital clock was eliminated and the news ticker was recolored blue.

The newly-updated graphics for ’24 Oras’ were part of GMA’s newest deal with Vizrt, in which the network invested P154 million to improve its news operations. It was no secret why the initial update of its graphics were criticized for being CNN-like because CNN also uses Vizrt for its news gathering capabilities.

After all the experimentation, what will GMA News do next to ’24 Oras’ come this week? While viewers wouldn’t care less about the on-air imagery and focus more on the content itself, the lack of uniqueness and consistency in the graphics deserves lots of criticism, and GMA News must settle in with something distinct and different for ’24 Oras’.

It’s up to GMA to do something right for a change. Good luck.

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Before One News: A Look Back on AksyonTV, 5’s Failed Attempt at a News Channel

AksyonTV was the first 24/7 Filipino language news channel, but financial losses led to its transformation into T5N’s complement channel. (Logo courtesy of The 5 Network)

Next week will herald a new chapter for News5.

On May 28, the news division of The 5 Network (T5N), along with The Philippine Star and BusinessWorld, will launch One News, a 24/7 English language news channel exclusive to Cignal. But before the fireworks take place, here is a look back at 5’s former news channel AksyonTV.

AksyonTV was launched on February 21, 2011, and was initially billed by 5 as the first 24/7 Filipino language news channel on free TV. During its first few years of operation, AksyonTV filled its programming lineup with simulcasts from Radyo5 92.3 News FM, as well as original programs exclusive to the network and other shows that also air on then-TV5.

Over the next several years, however, AksyonTV slowly drifted away from its original purpose and was rendered irrelevant by television think-tanks. The gradual decline of AksyonTV can be attributed to the following factors:

  • Overspending

When AksyonTV was first launched the MVP Group was on a spending tear, pooling all their resources in hopes of making TV5 competitive and at par with long-time giants ABS-CBN and GMA. However, they failed to account the poor reach and infrastructure of the network, leading to financial losses and consequently, this next factor.

  • News5’s Problems

In order to cut its losses, News5 elected to cancel original AksyonTV programs and focused more on 5’s newscasts and radio programs. However, News5 was soon hampered by the departure of numerous top talents and the downsizing of its staff, affecting not only AksyonTV but also 5 overall, leading to this next factor.

  • Arrival of Sports and Entertainment Shows

The lack of any original news programming forced 5 to reformat AksyonTV into a complement channel of T5N, adding ESPN5 programs, entertainment shows and TV shopping to the menu. The change in AksyonTV’s content also led to the launch of Bloomberg Philippines, which eventually morphed into One News.

Overall, AksyonTV was not a bad attempt by News5 in terms of operating a news channel. But had the network improved its reach and infrastructure, AksyonTV might have remained competitive and viable alongside the likes of GMA News TV, DZMM TeleRadyo, CNN Philippines and the ABS-CBN News Channel.

Unfortunately, with the launch of One News next week, it is clear that AksyonTV has outlived its usefulness. One can only hope that 5 will do something about AksyonTV in the immediate future, whether it is rebranding the network or selling it to other broadcast outfits.

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entertainment, news, Philippines, politics, public affairs, television

A Reaction to the Promotion of Sen. Tito Sotto to the Senate Presidency

Welcome to the ‘Tito Sen’ era.

Monday afternoon marked a changing of the guard at the Senate, as erstwhile Senate President Koko Pimentel relinquished his position in favor of Vicente ‘Tito’ Sotto III. The long-time senator/entertainer will now take on a more arduous task of leading the Senate for the next several years.

It also means that ‘Tito Sen’, as his co-hosts at ‘Eat Bulaga’ call him, will no longer join his fellow Dabarkads at the said noontime show for an indefinite time period. Given the many responsibilities of a Senate President, it was only fitting for Sotto to leave ‘Eat Bulaga’ since he would stay busy even during days without Senate sessions.

Sotto, nearing 70, has served a total of four terms as Senator. He had been elected to the Senate on four different occasions: 1992, 1998, 2010 and 2016.

The selection of Tito Sotto as Senate President earned mostly negative reactions from netizens. Most of them cite some of Sotto’s most controversial moments as both an entertainer and senator; namely the Pepsi Paloma rape scandal in the 1980s, the plagiarized RH Bill speech in 2012, and the ‘na-ano’ statement to Judy Taguiwalo in 2017.

But in the defense of some, Sotto has a track record that is more than enough to justify his ascendance atop the Senate. Aside from his four terms as Senator (this made him the longest-tenured current Senator by service time), he also served as Quezon City Vice Mayor from 1988-92, and was part of the Dangerous Drugs Board from 2008-09.

In addition, Sotto belongs to an influential family, some of whom also dabbled into politics. His grandfather, Vicente Yap Sotto, served at the Senate from 1946-50, his children Gian and Lala currently serve as Quezon City councilors, and nephew Vico (son of Vic Sotto and Coney Reyes) is currently a Pasig City councilor.

The negatives that come with Tito Sotto may be an overreaction to his recurring role as an entertainer. After all, politicians with showbiz backgrounds tend to carry greater scrutiny than those who come from other fields (see Bong Revilla and Jinggoy Estrada).

However, in the case of Tito Sotto, these controversies were just minor bumps to an otherwise distinguished mark in public service. People may like it or not, but until another changing of the guard takes place, the Senate Presidency will belong to one Vicente Sotto III.

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digital television, entertainment, news, Philippines, politics, public affairs, Sports, television

ABS-CBN TVPlus Sales Reach 5 Million Units

Five million and counting.

ABS-CBN announced this week that sales of the groundbreaking ABS-CBN TVPlus black box has reached the 5-million mark. This will put the network on track to meet the six-million sales target by the end of the year.

The steady growth of ABS-CBN TVPlus can be attributed to its low price, availability of several digital-exclusive TV channels and clearer picture quality. The boxes only cost P1499 and with a corresponding ABS-CBN Mobile SIM card, consumers can access exclusive ABS-CBN digital channels in CineMo, Yey!, Knowledge Channel, DZMM TeleRadyo and Kapamilya Box Office (KBO).

While ABS-CBN TVPlus is mainly used at home, some public and private vehicle owners have also invested on the device to improve picture quality in their TV screens while on the go. Although ABS-CBN discourages the use of TVPlus in automobiles, it did not stop vehicle owners from trying to improve the viewing experience of riders.

TVPlus is currently available in 15 key locations, mainly concentrating in the Greater Manila Area, Cebu, Bacolod, Iloilo, Cagayan de Oro, Davao, Benguet and Pangasinan. ABS-CBN is also looking to expand the current coverage area that TVPlus encompasses, with the announcement coming in the near future.

ABS-CBN also launched a new generation TVPlus box that is only available in Cebu and Davao. Sold for P2999, it now comes with a wifi stick that will enable customers to access the internet through ABS-CBN Mobile.

So far, the lack of competition in the digital TV sector has enabled ABS-CBN TVPlus to pull away in terms of sales. However, rivals GMA Network and Solar Entertainment are currently in the process of creating their own digital devices, which means that in a few years, one expect a dogfight between the three broadcast giants and their digital TV offerings.

For more information on ABS-CBN TVPlus, click this highlighted link.

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