news, Philippines, politics, public affairs

In Memory of News5

The death of News5 is all but finalized.

On Friday, November 3, TV5 management announced the cancellation of ‘Aksyon sa Umaga’, ‘Aksyon News Alert’ and ‘Aksyon Tonite’ to make way for the newly-rebranded ESPN5 block that will go full swing in December. The only newscasts retained by the network are ‘Aksyon sa Tanghali’ and ‘Aksyon Prime’.

The cancellation of these three programs marked the latest in a saga of changes that deepened News5’s problems. Whether it is the loss of several talents, questionable programming decisions, lack of resources or signal concerns, News5’s issues only served to undermine its abilities as a news-gathering force.

There is no need to discuss what went wrong as this blog already discussed in detail the many problems that News5 faced (and the potential solutions that would have helped). Instead, this article will look back at News5’s contributions during its storied but tenuous run.

News5 started the ‘news on FM radio’ revolution when they launched Radyo5 92.3 News FM back in 2010. A few months after, AksyonTV was born, and at the time, it was the only 24/7 all-Filipino language news channel on free TV.

They also went into a partnership with Bloomberg LP in 2015 and launched Bloomberg TV Philippines, the first Filipino business news channel. Other contributions by the network include News5 Digital, then the only online news channel in the country, and News5 newscasts produced in high definition.

Some of the Philippines’ most talented journalists also made News5 their home. These include current PCOO secretary Martin Andanar, the late Amelyn Veloso, the Tulfo brothers (Ben, Raffy and Erwin), Cheryl Cosim, Ed Lingao, Jove Francisco and former DOT spokesperson Cherie Mercado among others.

Finally, News5 did produce some quality programs of their own. Aside from the ‘Aksyon’ newscasts, some of News5’s award-winning shows include ‘T3’, ‘History with Lourd de Veyra’, ‘Kaya’ and ‘Alagang Kapatid’.

Overall, despite all the problems they have faced, News5 still tried its best to keep up with its more superior counterparts in ABS-CBN and GMA. Still, its inevitable demise has viewers thinking what might have been had they smartly made moves to benefit both the technical and the economical aspect of the organization.

Now that Chot Reyes is about to turn TV5 into an S+A clone (for lack of a better term), the promising organization that is News5 is all but a distant memory. The newscasts may keep it alive, but for all intents and purposes, this organization’s days are numbered.

Thanks for all the memories, News5. You’ll be sorely missed.

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TV5 Must Revamp Primetime Lineup

Odd one out: For TV5 to become truly alternative anew, they need to retire 'Aksyon Prime' for good and go with 'Aksyon Tonite' as their lone evening newscast. (Logo courtesy of TV5)

Odd one out: TV5’s primetime revamp may require ‘Aksyon Prime’ to merge with ‘Aksyon Tonite’. (Logo courtesy of TV5)

It is clear that TV5’s primetime lineup is going nowhere.

Questions abound the said lineup once Chot Reyes made it clear that he envisioned a more ‘alternative’ approach for the network. For instance, ‘Aksyon Prime’ and ‘Aksyon Tonite’ now seem out of place in Chot’s new approach, due to its ‘masa’-fied format and competition with ABS-CBN and GMA newscasts.

To make matters worse, ‘Aksyon Tonite’ recently added unproven journos in Lia Cruz and Marga Vargas, both of whom seem more suited to sports than news. And finally, PBA’s overall poor showing last season leave a lot to be desired.

With all problems considered, here is a to-do list that TV5 must do to revamp its primetime lineup.

1. Merge and Reformat Aksyon Prime and Aksyon Tonite

Two evening newscasts were too much for News5, considering the plight it endured of late. Thus, merging both ‘Aksyon Prime’ and ‘Aksyon Tonite’ into one nightly newscast is a necessity.

If that’s not enough, this merged newscast will employ a more hard news approach, and will air at 9:00 p.m. Hence, it will compete against CNN Philippines’ ‘Newsroom’, GMA News TV’s ‘State of the Nation’, ANC’s ‘The World Tonight’, and other similar newscasts.

As for the anchors and title, look no further. The newscast will carry the ‘Aksyon Tonite’ name, and Ed Lingao and Luchi Cruz-Valdes will be the anchors.

2. Replace Aksyon Prime with Sports360

The PBA games are a regular fixture on TV5 during weeknights, but the presence of ‘Aksyon Prime’ became a bane to viewers and game attendants. Placing ‘Sports360’ instead should alleviate this burden.

The format of ‘Sports360’ will remain the same. It will air for 15 minutes, and will focus mostly on viewer interaction and game analysis.

3. Foreign Canned Shows from 6 to 9 on Non-PBA Game Days

Finally, 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on a non-PBA game day will be dominated by TV5’s American action, suspense and fantasy shows. Doesn’t get more alternative than this.

Chot Reyes’ vision of a more ‘alternative’ TV5 may take time getting used to. But as far as the primetime lineup goes, solving this dilemma should be the first step, provided that management is smart enough to realize its flaws.

However, it doesn’t mean that this proposal will be achieved. Still, one can only hope that Chot Reyes will make the soundest of decisions in order to restore TV5’s fortunes, even if it means no more local entertainment fare.

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Three’s a Crowd: Aksyon Tonite Becomes a Three-Anchor Team

Looks like the solo anchor setup on ‘Aksyon’ newscasts is not working for News5.

Last Monday, News5 decided to once again revamp ‘Aksyon Tonite’, adding erstwhile weather reporters Lia Cruz and Marga Vargas to the newscast alongside Ed Lingao. Both Lia and Marga were intended to be ‘anchors in training’ as far as News5 is concerned.

This marked the first time that ‘Aksyon Tonite’ went with a three-anchor setup. Past lineups of the newscast featured either a two-anchor setup (Paolo Bediones/Ed Lingao and Cheryl Cosim) or a solo anchor setup (Ed Lingao).

The reaction to the move was mostly negative. They argued that Lia and Marga were the latest in a line of ‘entertainers masquerading as journalists’ (EMAJ), as the two lacked any journalistic background owing to their past experience as sports reporters (Lia for Solar Sports, Marga for ABC-5).

While Lia and Marga’s addition to ‘Aksyon Tonite’ serves to develop the two into well-rounded journalists, it is clear that News5 is once again dooming themselves with these questionable moves. A rundown of other late primetime newscasts on major privately-owned networks should show the foolishness of News5’s decision.

  • Bandila (ABS-CBN) – Julius Babao, Karen Davila, Ces Drilon
  • Saksi (GMA) – Pia Arcangel, Arnold Clavio
  • Newsroom (CNN Philippines) – Mitzi Borromeo
  • State of the Nation (GMA News TV) – Jessica Soho
  • Eagle News International (Net 25) – Alma Angeles, Sam Cepeda
  • Why News (UNTV News and Rescue) – Gerry Alcantara, Darlene Basingan, Diego Castro III
  • The World Tonight (ANC) – Tina Monzon-Palma

The list above shows that all listed anchors are indeed legitimate journalists. Too bad for News5 and its head Luchi Cruz-Valdes.

Going down the EMAJ route just to revamp ‘Aksyon Tonite’ should serve as a way to destroy its once-credible aura. When the newscast was anchored by Cheryl Cosim and Ed Lingao, many praised it for its emphasis on hard news, which helped restore its credibility that was lost during Paolo Bediones’ time.

Now that they promoted Lia Cruz and Marga Vargas to serve alongside Ed Lingao, expect that praise to turn against ‘Aksyon Tonite’. They may be added just to gain experience, but unless they grow and learn quickly, they might become the next Menchu Macapagal or Hillary Isaac.

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News5 Anchors Go Solo, But Is It Worth the Risk?

News5 is making changes, sort of.

As reported yesterday by MediaNewser.com, three of TV5’s ‘Aksyon’ newscasts will have just one anchor each. The anchors for each newscast are:

  • Cheryl Cosim (Aksyon sa Umaga)
  • Raffy Tulfo (Aksyon sa Tanghali)
  • Ed Lingao (Aksyon Tonite)

This was in reaction to the recent departures of several News5 talent (e.g. Martin Andanar and Cherie Mercado), some of whom were hired by the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte. As for ‘Aksyon Prime’, they will retain a two-anchor setup with Erwin Tulfo and Luchi Cruz-Valdes.

The one-anchor setup actually got underway with ‘Aksyon sa Tanghali’, when TV5 chose not to give Raffy Tulfo a replacement partner starting July 18. However, the possibility of just one anchor on the newscasts was not realized until Cheryl Cosim hinted recently on Instagram of her last remaining days as co-anchor of ‘Aksyon Tonite’.

‘Aksyon sa Umaga’, the other newscast that Cheryl anchors nowadays, will be most affected by the new setup. The show will lose co-hosts Grace Lee, France Noguera, Renz Ongkiko, Jeff Caparas, and Atty. Mel Sta. Maria, and viewers could feel concerned about the impracticality of one anchor handling a long 90-minute newscast.

Despite the decision, criticism continued to haunt News5, especially their decision to retain Raffy Tulfo for ‘Aksyon sa Tanghali’. As noted previously in Part I of News5 Needs a Revamp, ‘Aksyon sa Tanghali’ was mostly sensationalized and similar to Raffy’s radio show ‘Wanted sa Radyo’, thanks in large part to the ‘Itimbre Mo Kay Tulfo’ segment.

Many also criticized News5’s decision to drop Atty. Mel Sta. Maria from ‘Aksyon sa Umaga’. Considering that both Cheryl and Atty. Mel were praised for giving new life and credibility back into the newscast, this was a decision that will undoubtedly question News5’s commitment to improve its news programs.

The truth is, Luchi Cruz-Valdes should have done a lot more. Using just one anchor for three of the ‘Aksyon’ newscasts will not change how viewers negatively perceive News5, especially when the presence of the Tulfo brothers were brought up to the discussion.

That said, it is obvious that a full-scale revamp is still a necessity for News5. Unless they promote more deserving reporters to anchor status, hire fresh graduates from journalism and mass communications courses, and change their approach to news reporting to a more ‘global’ approach, News5’s negative reputation will continue to haunt them in the years to come.

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News5 Needs a Revamp (Part II)

The problems surrounding TV5 has also spread to the news department.

In Part I, FTT discussed the various dilemmas that surrounded News5 in recent months. These problems range from questionable personnel decisions and content criticisms to programming issues.

Now on Part II, we discuss what steps are needed to resuscitate News5 from its doldrums. These solutions may be risky for the division, but in the long term, it should help them regain their former glory.

With that, here are the following ways to fix News5:

Hire and Promote Younger Reporters

News5 really needs some young blood to shore things up. With that in mind, an aggressive recruiting plan is needed to acquire younger journalists (preferably fresh graduates from mass communications and journalism courses) who could help them in the long term.

Of course, it would be best to avoid the so-called ‘entertainers masquerading as journalists’ (EMAJ) at all costs. If so, demote them to reporting showbiz news.

In addition to that, they may need to promote some of their long-time reporters to anchor the ‘Aksyon’ newscasts on a regular or a temporary basis. Reporters like Maricel Halili, Renz Ongkiko, Maeanne Los Baños, France Noguera, Carla Lim and Trish Roque could get some airtime as anchors in the near future.

However, that will only be possible if News5 does something drastic to ‘Aksyon’. Which leads to this much-needed solution.

Reformat ‘Aksyon’ (save for ‘Aksyon Tonite’)

For the most part, ‘Aksyon sa Umaga’, ‘Aksyon sa Tanghali’ and ‘Aksyon Prime’ are similar to the newscasts of ABS-CBN and GMA: mostly sensationalized in nature. This is contrast to ‘Aksyon Tonite’, whose content is more on hard news.

Getting rid of the sensationalized reports and focusing more on hard news should be a priority for News5 in restructuring the ‘Aksyon’ brand. Of course, a personnel shuffle is needed as well; after all, no one wants to be the next Raffy Tulfo, who turned ‘Aksyon sa Tanghali’ into a ‘Wanted sa Radyo’ in newscast form.

Find someone equal to ‘Aksyon Tonite”s Ed Lingao and Cheryl Cosim, and a more reenergized ‘Aksyon’ newscasts are ready to go. But if TV5 wants to make their news available 24/7, they need to go to this route.

Establish an All-News Channel on Cignal

AksyonTV’s glory days are long gone. The former 24-hour all-Filipino news channel is now airing more sporting events than ever, and TV5 may need to give its sister channel a much-needed rebrand (preferably renaming it as the Sports5 Network or AKTV).

A news channel is still a necessity though. But instead of airing it on free TV like before, what TV5 needed now is a Cignal exclusive news channel, complete with the simulcasts of all Radyo5 programs, ‘Aksyon’ newscasts and public affairs shows from TV5 (don’t confuse it with Bloomberg TV Philippines, as it is strictly a business news channel).

In order to do that, however, more shows on Radyo5 and TV5 are needed. Which leads to:

Create More Shows on Radyo5 and TV5

Radyo5 92.3 News FM may be the only news-oriented FM station in the country, but its programming is still a far cry from that of AM radio counterparts DZBB and DZMM. With that in mind, the station needs to add more programs in addition to hiring new hosts.

The same can be said to TV5, whose only active public affairs shows are ‘Alagang Kapatid’ and ‘ReAksyon’. Adding new shows could take a while, however, since the network is busy managing the coverage of the 2016 Rio Olympics.

These solutions should help News5 regain its former glory. But rebuilding is not easy, however, so all it needs is patience, perseverance and faith to get the job done.

News5 has a potential to be a great news organization. However, with all the problems they countered, it’s easy to see why they’re still lagging behind the others.

Hopefully they do this right as soon as possible. The fate of News5 is on the management’s hands.

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News5 Needs a Revamp (Part I)

The problems surrounding TV5 has also spread to the news department.

Within two months, News5 lost two of its regular anchors to the government of President Rodrigo Duterte. In early June, Martin Andanar was appointed secretary of the Presidential Communication and Operations Office, then just recently, Cherie Mercado accepted the post of spokesperson by the Department of Transportation.

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The task given to me by President Rody Duterte, to bring our government media agencies back to its good old glory days, is colossal. This requires a clear vision, 100% dedication, extraordinary capacity, political will and the grit to fight inefficiencies caused by corruption. Difficult as it may be, I wholeheartedly accepted the challenge to serve our 16th President and our Country. Now, I'm in the process of hiring the best, the brightest and the boldest. My friends, I ask for your fervent prayers and support because the road ahead will be long and rough. Thank you President Digong for the full trust and confidence. It is truly an honor to be in your cabinet. Like what President Digong always says again and again, "STOP". Yes I will do everything to STOP corruption at the Presidential Communication and Operations Office. That's my commitment. #DU30 #Stop #ChangeIsComing

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Martin had been the face of News5 for many years, having served as an anchor and executive, as well as the voice of Radyo5 92.3 News FM. On the other hand, Cherie was a holdover from ABC 5 during the ownership of Tonyboy Cojuangco, having been employed by the network for over a decade.

Ironically, their departures were felt by the Tulfo brothers themselves. Since Martin’s departure, Erwin Tulfo has become the sole host of his Radyo5 program ‘Punto Asintado’, while brother Raffy remained the lone anchor of ‘Aksyon sa Tanghali’ following Cherie’s departure (though at times he was paired with usual weather reporter Marga Vargas).

In addition, Cherie’s radio program ‘Trabaho Lang’ was cancelled following her resignation. That said, it was clear to News5 that their decision to leave for the government is a bitter pill to swallow.

But their departures are not the only reason why News5 is at an all-time low. Programming, content and questionable personnel decisions have become the Achilles’ heel of the division for a long time, and it dragged TV5 further down once they underwent a total housecleaning.

For instance, ‘Aksyon sa Tanghali’, the newscast anchored by Raffy Tulfo, borders more towards sensationalized news. In fact, the show goes as far as to be considered a ‘Wanted sa Radyo’ in newscast form, mainly due to the inclusion of the ‘Itimbre Mo Kay Tulfo’ segment.

In contrast, ‘Aksyon Tonite’ anchors Ed Lingao and Cheryl Cosim have done a great job minimizing sensationalized news in favor of national issues. That said, it’s hard to fathom why ‘Aksyon”s other newscasts failed to follow the example set by ‘Aksyon Tonite’.

Radyo5 92.3 News FM also has its own share of problems, due to the presence of vacant timeslots. The fact that they lacked any capable personnel to host its programs is a clear sign that the only news-centric FM radio station in the country is on the rocks.

The lack of public service and commentary programs on TV5 are also glaring. The only such programs that currently air on TV5 right now are ‘ReAksyon’ and ‘Alagang Kapatid’, with ‘History with Lourd’ and ‘Public Atorni’ airing reruns.

Their hiring of ‘EMAJs’ (entertainers masquerading as journalists) have also affected the division. Let’s face it, no one would want guys like Jun Sabayton, Lourd de Veyra, Grace Lee and Shawn Yao to man the network’s news coverage.

Finally, AksyonTV’s decision to end most of its Radyo5 simulcasts in favor of blocktimers such as ‘EZ Shop’, ‘Shop TV’ and ‘Shop Japan’ is a clear sign that News5 is no longer intent on sustaining the embattled channel. That said, AksyonTV could be on the verge of becoming a predominantly sports channel in a similar vein as ABS-CBN Sports+Action.

So what urgent plans are needed for News5 to regain its old glory? Find out this Thursday on Part II of this article.

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