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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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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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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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Busy Day for Networks in a Marathon Senate Hearing on EJK

The Senate hearing on extrajudicial killings reached fever pitch Monday night.

The hearing began at 9:30 a.m., with Senator Richard Gordon presiding the proceedings. Senator Gordon and company presented the following witnesses that day:

  • SPO1 Vivencio Jumawan Jr.
  • PO3 Enrique Ayao
  • Ret. S. Supt. Dionisio Abude
  • SPO3 Arthur Lascañas

All four testified and questioned the validity of star witness Edgar Matobato’s statement. They claimed that they knew Matobato and they also denied the existence of a Davao Death Squad.

However, the highlight of the hearing took place deep into the evening. Senators Alan Peter Cayetano, Gordon, Panfilo Lacson and Manny Pacquiao learned that star witness Edgar Matobato had left the building even before his scheduled testimony, with Senator Antonio Trillanes IV even telling Matobato to leave for security reasons.

This led to a word war between Senators Gordon and Leila de Lima. The two senators clashed over what Gordon claimed was ‘material concealment’ of information on de Lima’s part over Matobato’s kidnapping case in 2002, and it led to de Lima storming out of the Senate.

In the end, Senator Gordon announced that the hearing on extrajudicial killings will be suspended until further notice. Gordon then called for a caucus of committee members, which may take place today.

At around 12:00 p.m., the following major networks were covering the Senate hearings:

  • DZMM TeleRadyo (and DZMM Radyo Patrol 630)
  • ABS-CBN News Channel
  • CNN Philippines
  • GMA News TV
  • Super Radyo DZBB 594
  • AksyonTV
  • Radyo5 92.3 News FM
  • PTV-4

Save for TV5’s ‘Aksyon sa Tanghali’, there was no noontime newscast that day due to the hearings. However, for some unknown reason, AksyonTV and Radyo5 92.3 News FM chose to stop carrying the feed by 12:30 in favor of regular programming, a decision that did not sit well with the Kapatid faithful (the PBA coverage is excused, however).

At around 6:00 p.m. CNN Philippines ended the coverage in favor of ‘Network News’. Thirty minutes later, DZMM and DZBB concluded their coverage in order to carry ‘TV Patrol’ and ’24 Oras’ respectively.

By 6:45 p.m. ANC likewise ended their coverage in favor of regular programming. The network was unable to cover the heated confrontation between Senators de Lima and Gordon, however, and they deferred the coverage to DZMM TeleRadyo instead.

Overall, it was a very busy day for the networks at the Senate. In a hearing that lasts over 13 hours (with a suspension of over an hour), every action needs to be followed, and many of them tried their best to do so.

Now that the hearings are suspended until further notice, it is back to mostly regular programming for the networks. Still, it remains to be seen if the impending continuation of the hearings will be as action-packed as the last one.

 

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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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