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Interaksyon.com to Close Operations This March, But Wait…

Shutdown or merger: The fate of InterAksyon.com is currently being debated between TV5 and PhilStar management. (Logo courtesy of TV5)

Another online news outlet is in the headlines, but for a different reason.

Newsbytes.ph reported that Interaksyon.com, the online news website of TV5, will shut down its operations later this year. This comes just as news of competitor Rappler’s revocation of registration and ongoing legal battle grip the entire nation.

According to editor-in-chief Roby Alampay, Interkasyon.com will end its run in March and all of its digital news properties will be consolidated to News5.com.ph. This consolidation will also lead to a rationalization of manpower, which means that Interaksyon.com’s 20 regular employees may be given their walking papers.

However, a report by The Philippine Star later claimed that Mediaquest is studying its options for the future of Interaksyon.com, according to PhilStar Global CEO Kevin Belmonte. Mediaquest CEO Ray Espinosa also added that there is a possibility that Interaksyon.com would continue as part of PhilStar Global while they “determine the feasibility of implementing this plan in a cost efficient manner”.

This latest news regarding Interaksyon.com is indicative of TV5’s ongoing transformation. Its embattled news division, in particular, is in hot water for the loss of manpower and programming, and while it is true that declining revenue and streamlining of operations are the reasons behind these moves, watching News5 go down in flames is not a good sight for the Philippine media community.

And with TV5 joining forces with ESPN for its sports content, it became clear that News5 is now the odd one out. Dissolving this division may be the next best thing, but as far as its remaining staff are concerned, they would rather continue the fight than concede to reality.

Regardless of the decision, one can only hope that TV5, Mediaquest and The Philippine Star will do the right thing when it comes to confirming the fate of Interaksyon.com. Best of luck to the braintrust of each outfit, this is worth the wait.

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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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FTT Year 2017 in Review: The Hot or Not Stories That Define the Year in Media (Part II)

Another year is about to end. But before the calendar flips to 2018, here is a look back at the year that was in television and radio. This article looks back at some of the Hot or Not moments that define the Philippine media this year.

If you missed out on Part I of this series, click on the highlighted link for more information.

Here is Part II of the four-part series. These stories are arranged in no particular order.

HOT: Ben and Erwin Tulfo

The two Tulfo brothers began the year as hosts of their respective programs (Ben for ‘Bitag Live’, Erwin for ‘Punto Asintado’) on Radyo5 92.3 News FM. But after a highly-publicized feud with journalist Ed Lingao last June, Ben and Erwin elected to quit their jobs with Radyo5 and move over to PTV-4 (where they host ‘Kilos Pronto’ with Alex Santos) and Radyo Pilipinas full-time.

While Ben moved ‘Bitag Live’ to join its sister programs over to PTV-4, Erwin returned to newscasting with ‘Radyo Pilipinas Nationwide’ and ‘PTV News’ where he is joined by Weng dela Peña and Diane Querrer respectively. Erwin also brought his ‘Erwin Tulfo Live’ over to Radyo Pilipinas and started a talk show with President Rodrigo Duterte called ‘Sa Totoo Lang’.

NOT: Raffy Tulfo

Meanwhile, the lone remaining Tulfo on TV5 continued to butcher the already damaged reputation of its news division by changing the format anew of ‘Aksyon sa Tanghali’. As a result, the erstwhile newscast became a full-on television counterpart to Raffy’s radio program ‘Wanted sa Radyo’ by emphasizing more on citizen complaints than actual news reports.

Notwithstanding the recent addition of Marga Vargas as co-anchor, it was clear that having Raffy on ‘Aksyon sa Tanghali’ is doing more harm than good to News5’s morale. Perhaps the departure of his brothers plus News5’s decline in quality may have taken its toll on Raffy, and giving him the walking papers may be inevitable.

HOT: DZMM TeleRadyo and Dobol B sa News TV

In April, a new-look DZMM TeleRadyo was unveiled to a nationwide audience, featuring an improved visual presentation and a new set for ‘Sakto’, ‘Good Vibes’, ‘On the Spot’ and ‘Todo-Todo Walang Preno’. They also added a selection of ABS-CBN News programs and two newscasts to the lineup in ‘Headline Pilipinas’ and an ‘early edition’ of ‘Bandila’.

Not to be outdone, rival Super Radyo DZBB 594 returned to television via ‘Dobol B sa News TV’ after a four-year hiatus. The station also started to cross over to social media by airing select programs live on Facebook, much like DZMM does on occasion.

NOT: News5 in General

The self-destruction of News5 continued throughout the year. Not only did the network lose Ben and Erwin Tulfo among other talents, they also cancelled ‘Aksyon sa Umaga’ and shortened ‘Aksyon Tonite’ in favor of sports programming from ESPN5.

It also didn’t help that its leader Luchi Cruz-Valdes disappeared from radio and television altogether due to health concerns. Overall, the future does not look bright for News5 and the inevitability of dissolution draws even closer as each day passes.

HOT: 97.9 Home Radio

Call it a rebirth as the ‘old’ 97.9 Home Radio returned to the airwaves last July. Gone is the Top 40 style of previous years, and to the delight of its loyal listeners, Home Radio resurrected its familiar ‘easy listening’ format.

The reformat of Home Radio back to its roots should give 96.3 Easy Rock a run for its money. After all, with Easy Rock offering a bland Love Radio-like approach, a more diverse playlist is more than enough for listeners to switch to Home Radio instead.

NOT: 90.7 Love Radio

They may continue to boast that they were the No. 1 radio station in Metro Manila for nearly (self-proclaimed) two decades now, but the grip is slipping for 90.7 Love Radio. The loss of Papa Jack (now 106.7 Energy FM’s Papa Jackson) became too large of a hole to fill, and despite having the talented duo of Chris Tsuper and Nicole Hyala, this year overall is not a good one for Love Radio.

Getting surpassed by MOR 101.9 in the ratings is insult to injury to Love Radio’s psyche. And if that is not enough, Lloyd Cafe Cadena is no Papa Jackson, which is hard to accept for any listener of the said station.

HOT: FM1 and FM2

The two FM stations under the PCOO umbrella officially signed on this year: 104.3 FM2 in February and 87.5 FM1 in November. Within months, FM2 became the top-rated FM radio station among the upscale listening public thanks in large part to their diverse format featuring classic songs from the 70s up to the 90s.

As for FM1, the station is currently in test broadcast and is expected to launch early next year. Unlike FM2, FM1 will focus on the younger demographic with a format consisting of music from the 2000s onwards, which should give established stations like Magic 89.9 and Monster RX 93.1 a run for their money.

NOT: Retro 105.9

The original ‘retro’ FM radio station in Metro Manila faced new competition in the form of FM2 this year. Initially, Retro 105.9 was the top FM radio station among Metro Manila’s upscale listeners, but a surge from FM2 ended their reign.

Making matters worse is Retro 105.9’s latest rebrand that took place in November, dismissing almost all of its on-air staff in favor of a mostly automated approach. With FM2 imposing its will on the upscale market, it seems like the days of Retro 105.9 as the source of anything ‘retro’ music is being numbered by the day.

Part III of this four-part series is coming up this Thursday. Stay tuned.

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In 100 Words: Old TV5 Entertainment Shows on AksyonTV

‘Ang Utol Kong Hoodlum’ is one of several classic TV5 entertainment programs that are being reaired on AksyonTV. (Photo credit: TV5)

Here is another example of how far AksyonTV has fallen.

Recently, classic programs of the defunct TV5 Entertainment division were being reaired on AksyonTV. Shows such as ‘Third Eye’, ‘Obsession’ and even ‘Ang Utol Kong Hoodlum’ were seen on the channel since November of this year due to lack of original and canned programs or live events.

This latest move is a indication of AksyonTV’s continuous decline in quality. Not even nostalgia from TV5’s competitive era can save AksyonTV from oblivion, and for a network than has sunken this far since last year, it is very humiliating.

Perhaps people should start a campaign to #SaveAksyonTV. If not, Chot Reyes should consider selling the channel.

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ASEAN Summit Nothing – News5 No Longer Involved (Mostly) in ASEAN Summit

The possible final straw: News5’s lack of involvement in the 2017 ASEAN Summit was an indication that the organization is nearing its end, and the emphasis towards sports only made it worse. (Logo courtesy of ASEAN)

One seemingly moribund news organization is obviously non-committal when it comes to the ASEAN Summit.

Perhaps the biggest political event in the Philippines this year, the 2017 ASEAN Summit had it all. Whether it is the first visit of U.S. President Donald Trump to the country or the countless hours of talks between the ASEAN member states and top nations such as the U.S., China, Canada and Australia, the four-day event was for the most part memorable.

But not all of the Philippines’ top networks were around to cover those whirlwind four days. Just ask News5.

As expected, Luchi Cruz-Valdes and co. made little noise when it comes to coverage of the ASEAN Summit. And despite assigning some of their reporters (if there is any) to cover the said event, not to mention providing some live coverage on social media, the ASEAN Summit was buried in the pecking order in favor of sensational crime stories.

At least sister network Bloomberg Television Philippines did its share. As for the main network, nada.

Blame ESPN5 for all of this. After all, it was Chot Reyes who basically killed ‘Aksyon sa Umaga’, cut ‘Aksyon Tonite’ in half, and turned ‘Aksyon sa Tanghali’ into a ‘Hoy Gising’ wannabe.

They may still have ‘Aksyon Prime’ as their primary news program, but then again it has become a constant distraction to ESPN5’s sports coverage.

I have already written a eulogy that paid tribute to News5 and its ‘proud’ heritage. But as the ASEAN Summit neared, I thought to myself,

“Perhaps there is still a way to save News5 from the verge of collapse'”.

As it turned out, Chot Reyes was no longer committed to help News5 and instead made ESPN5 his ‘baby’. With sports now dominating TV5 and (for the most part) sister network AksyonTV, there is no room for said network to make the ASEAN Summit a must-see event the same way its rivals from Timog, Mother Ignacia, Shaw Boulevard and Visayas Avenue did.

It is safe to say that the time is now to pay our last respects to News5. Chot Reyes can dissolve this ‘pain in his butt’ anytime he wants, because as it stands, this division’s pain and suffering is unbearable and impossible to heal.

Hopefully the remnants of News5 will find a new home soon in the event that it will be dissolved. Good luck.

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Live Blog: 2017 ASEAN Summit on ANC (Part IV)

The 2017 ASEAN Summit is up and running, as heads of ASEAN nations as well as other world dignitaries converge to discuss various political issues that affect both their countries and the world. At around the same time, the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit also takes place, focusing on business concerns surrounding the ASEAN region.

The ABS-CBN News Channel and CNN Philippines are the primary channels that will cover in detail the ASEAN Summit. For this live blog, I will focus on ANC, so keep refreshing this blog for the latest updates on their coverage.

4:30 p.m.

Newly-appointed Palace spokesperson Harry Roque just finished his press conference at the 2017 ASEAN Summit. After two weeks, it looks like the former congressman has warmed himself up to his new position.

And ‘Market Edge’ was extended for another 30 minutes. Oh well, ANC is going non-stop from this point forward.

4:40 p.m.

Karmina Constantino returns with ‘The Bureau’, and she kicks it off with live coverage of the 20th ASEAN-China Summit.

Now back to the newsroom as they close doors to the summit anew. If you were wondering why the main studio is not used after 9:35 a.m. on weekdays, it is because the set is used for weekly ANC talk shows.

5:10 p.m.

Lexi Schulze was supposed to go on board for ‘ANC Alerts’ at this time of the day, but with all the updates regarding the ASEAN Summit, ‘The Bureau’ is still up and running. Also, Christian Esguerra returned for another roundup of ASEAN Summit news.

This is just the afternoon edition of ‘The Bureau’ though. An evening edition, this time anchored by Ron Cruz, airs at 7:00 p.m. and is likewise devoted to foreign news.

5:25 p.m.

‘The Bureau’ just ended; however ‘Top Story’ will come in next. Oh well, it looks like our ANC personalities are putting their game faces on.

Day 2 of ANC’s coverage is about to enter the 12th hour. You got to give credit to these guys for staying around long enough to deliver the news on the ASEAN Summit each and every time.

5:30 p.m.

KC is still around for ‘Top Story’. Other than a 30-minute respite, she has been inside the ANC newsroom studio for the entire afternoon.

ANC anchors are like warriors in the desk, keeping a sharp eye on the news for long hours without complaint. KC has been doing this for over a decade now so we got to salute her for that.

5:40 p.m.

Speaking of warriors, Cathy Yang is back, microphone and all, interviewing BDO and SM’s Tessie Sy-Coson. She has been at Solaire for nearly half a day now.

6:00 p.m.

After another report from Christian, Lexi finally makes an appearance, doing a shortened version of ‘ANC Alerts’ during ‘Top Story’. Better late than never.

After that, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the audience at the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit. The whirlwind day doesn’t end yet.

6:15 p.m. 

While Prime Minister Modi was speaking, President Duterte was hosting the ASEAN-Korea Summit. Again it will be closed to public viewing after a few short minutes.

ANC is closing in on the 13th hour of their coverage. Damn this is getting even more interesting.

6:20 p.m.

Every Monday is The Explainer day. And as always, ANC’s resident commentator Manolo Quezon does his Teddy Locsin impression with his thoughts on the ASEAN Summit.

Didn’t we mention that he is related to the former Commonwealth president Manuel Quezon?

6:30 p.m.

Bill Velasco and Boyet Sison are supposed to come in for ‘Hardball’. However, ANC’s special coverage of the ASEAN Summit will force said show to air on a later date.

6:35 p.m.

Looks like ‘Hardball’ will come in after all. Oh well, another break.

7:00 p.m.

Back up and running for the last stretch. Now watching ‘The Bureau’ evening edition, and since Ron Cruz is not around for the day, Raine Musñgi is filling in for him.

If you are familiar with the ‘Voice of ABS-CBN’ Peter Musñgi, then Raine is his biological daughter. It does run in the family.

7:15 p.m.

Wonder why Raine does not appear often on ANC? According to her social media pages, Raine also acts as a producer off-camera, managing news reports behind the scenes.

At least she is very productive, so no problem. In the meantime, Michelle Ong is back to bring in the latest at the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit.

7:30 p.m.

That will do it for the live blog of ANC’s 2017 ASEAN Summit coverage. Overall I was very impressed with their consistent and tireless presentation, going all-out with blow-by-blow reports of the goings-on in both Solaire Resort and Casino and at the CCP Complex.

There were some mistakes and issues that they endured, but other than that, it was all smooth-sailing for Team ANC. However, this is just Day 2 of their coverage, so expect almost the same type of coverage come tomorrow morning all the way to the night.

In the meantime, I am going to wait for ABS-CBN’s 2017 Christmas Station ID. I’m sure our favorite ANC personalities are here as well.

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