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, public affairs, television

ABS-CBN Regional Cancels Agri Tayo Dito, MagTV Na

Not even the largest regional television network group in the Philippines is spared from the inevitable.

Just recently, ABS-CBN Regional announced the cancellation of its two weekend morning programs ‘Agri Tayo Dito’ and ‘MagTV Na’. The former, which was hosted by former ‘Pinoy Big Brother’ winner Ruben Gonzaga, had been on the air for six years, while the latter, starring various hosts in different regional networks, had been running for a decade.

Both ‘Agri Tayo Dito’ and ‘MagTV Na’ earned Anak TV citations for being child-friendly programs. They also won several KBP Golden Dove and UPLB Gandingan Awards among other accomplishments.

No reason was given behind the cancellation of both programs. However, it is likely that ABS-CBN Regional pulled the plug for cost-cutting purposes, given the need to improve and strengthen all of its regional outlets and bring it to a high definition-ready standard of its Metro Manila flagship.

It is also possible that ABS-CBN Regional will not field in a replacement for both shows due to these aforementioned reasons. Instead, they are expected to show ‘Kapamilya Swak na Swak’ and ‘Spongebob Squarepants’ direct from Metro Manila.

The cancellation of ‘Agri Tayo Dito’ and ‘MagTV Na’ came months after the shutdown of the ABS-CBN Regional Channel last January. It is clear that ABS-CBN Regional is eyeing toward the future, and considering that its stations are still not up to par with Metro Manila’s, they had no choice but to cut some operating expenses.

The fate of the shows’ hosts and staff will also come into play. Given their loyal service to ABS-CBN, they could either be given an honorable discharge or a new role within the company.

Still, it remains to be seen what plans will ABS-CBN Regional bring to the table next. But for the Kapamilya viewers in the provinces, both ‘Agri Tayo Dito’ and ‘MagTV Na’ will be sorely missed.

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Philippines, Sports, television

Liga Is the New Balls

CPI has a new cable channel in LIGA, which will eventually serve as the main home of the 2018 FIFA World Cup (Logo courtesy of Creative Programs Inc.)

ABS-CBN’s Creative Programs Inc. has a new cable channel anew.

Following the closure of TAG, ABS-CBN Regional Channel and Hero, CPI went back to work and quietly established a new sports-oriented cable channel called LIGA. The channel’s content will eventually be focused on the 2018 FIFA World Cup, but for the time being, it airs live and classic UAAP men’s basketball and women’s volleyball matches as well as the World Cup qualifiers.

LIGA is served to complement S+A, ABS-CBN’s free TV channel dedicated to sports. While ABS-CBN Sports is the current rightsholder for the World Cup, its main channel S+A may not be enough to shoulder the burden due to its other sports commitments both internationally and locally.

Thus an alternate channel was needed to pick up the slack. Enter LIGA, which is currently on test broadcast with an official launch soon to be announced.

This is not the first time that CPI decided to establish its own sports channel. During the ensuing controversy surrounding SkyCable and Solar Entertainment in 2008 regarding carriage of the latter’s channels, CPI appeased to the demands of some sports fans with the launch of Balls, which lasted seven years before CPI ended its broadcasts in favor of S+A.

But unlike Balls which catered more to the upper echelon of society, LIGA will be more mass-oriented in nature. This despite the fact that it will contain many of the events that Balls used to air.

Now that LIGA is about to be unleashed, one can only hope that this channel will benefit sports fans in more ways than one. Not only that, as the home of the World Cup this June, football fans will be more excited than ever to see their football heroes strut their stuff in the world’s biggest stage.

Good luck.

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anime, cable TV, Japan, Philippines, television

Goodbye, Hero

Tomorrow will be the last day for Hero TV.

Hero, a cable channel of ABS-CBN affiliate Creative Programs Inc., will permanently sign off at 11:59 p.m. of January 31st. Similar to the case of now-defunct sister channels TAG and ABS-CBN Regional Channel, a ‘change of business direction’ is cited behind the closure of Hero.

Hero was first launched on November 12, 2005 and became the only channel in the Philippines to showcase Tagalized dubs of Japanese anime. The content of Hero ranged from classic anime titles (some of which were redubbed) first shown on ABS-CBN and other channels to new acquisitions fresh from its original Japanese airing.

But Hero is not exclusive to anime alone. Over the years, the channel also showcased tokusatsu programs (e.g. ‘Masked Rider’ series and ‘Shaider’) and even original programs produced by the network that focused on the cosplay culture and other anime-related news.

Just as Hero was starting to take off, however, a new digital free TV channel was being planned by ABS-CBN to eventually inherit its place. In 2011, Yey! was launched, and four years later, the ABS-CBN TVPlus digital TV box made its commercial debut.

Still, CPI soldiered on with Hero despite the presence of Yey!. Unfortunately, the growing sales of ABS-CBN TVPlus along with the rise of undubbed new anime on the internet necessitated cord-cutters to shift to these new medium, and as a result, Hero’s viability was put into question.

Sadly, such factors became too much for Hero, and in early January, CPI finally delivered the bad news. Hero would cease to exist whether its loyal fans liked it or not.

Regardless of how it ended, the 12-year run of Hero is worth remembering for Filipino anime fans. In the days leading up to its closure, Hero’s social media pages were flooded with appreciation posts, thanking them for their service in delivering Filipino-dubbed classic and fresh anime to their satisfaction.

Hero’s final call to arms should be a memorable one. But for those who still crave for more anime, there is Animax and AniPlus to deal with it, as well as Yey! for Tagalized ones.

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entertainment, internet, movies, news, online, Philippines, politics, public affairs, television

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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cable TV, entertainment, news, Philippines, public affairs, satellite TV, television

Analyzing the New ABS-CBN Regional Channel

The new ABS-CBN Regional Channel gives viewers access to virtually all programs of the Regional Network Group in any dialect. (Logo courtesy of ABS-CBN)

Living up to the Kapamilya moniker, the ABS-CBN family of networks recently added a new channel.

On August 1, the ABS-CBN Regional Channel was officially launched. The new channel’s premise is simple: it is a 24/7 cable channel that consists of programs straight from the ABS-CBN Regional Network Group.

Programs that air on the ABS-CBN Regional Channel include:

  • TV Patrol
  • Bagong Umaga Bagong Balita
  • Maayong Buntag Kapamilya
  • Agri Tayo Dito
  • MagTVna
  • Kapamilya Mas Winner Ka
  • Special events such as local festivals
  • MOR FM radio programs
  • ABS-CBN AM radio programs

In essence, the channel should benefit Metro Manila and other regional viewers who originate from their home provinces. Those who want to watch the latest news and information from their home town can watch the ABS-CBN Regional Channel in any place and any time.

All programs on the ABS-CBN Regional Channel will continue to air on their respective regional networks and in their original timeslots. That said, the channel will only complement rather than replace the entire Regional Network Group by accessing content from each station.

Even though ABS-CBN has already established a channel for the sake of its regional viewers, they still need to solve a long-standing issue regarding the need for unified programming. Some programs of the ABS-CBN Regional Network Group continue to air in place of select shows that would otherwise air in Metro Manila and other relay stations.

That said, it is the responsibility of ABS-CBN to give every region access to all of its programs in concert to that of Metro Manila. Though the ABS-CBN Regional Channel is a good start, it is still not enough, and resolving this issue of preemption and next-day broadcasts is a priority that ABS-CBN and its regional viewers should agree upon.

The ABS-CBN Regional Channel is available on SkyCable channel 4 (for Metro Manila subscribers), SkyDirect channel 14 (for nationwide subscribers), iWanTV, SkyOnDemand and select cable providers.

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