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New Name for Lifestyle, Plus Toonami Gets the Ax

Lifestyle (Network) has a new name.

On April 2, 2018, Lifestyle was renamed and rebranded as the Metro Channel. Named after the high-end lifestyle magazine of the same name, Metro Channel will feature almost the same content as its predecessor, with a focus on food, fashion and travel programs.

Some of the programs that will air on Metro Channel include locally-produced shows such as ‘The Crawl’, ‘Casa Daza’, ‘At the Table’, ‘G Diaries’ and ‘Pia’s Postcards’. It will also feature foreign canned programs such as ‘Masterchef’, ‘America’s Next Top Model’ and ‘The Great British Bakeoff’.

Operated by ABS-CBN affiliate Creative Programs Inc., Metro Channel was originally launched on July 24, 1999 as the Lifestyle Network. It was later rebranded as ‘Lifestyle’ in 2015 with increased emphasis towards programs concerning food, fashion and travel.

Metro Channel will continue to air on SkyCable channel 52 and on high definition channel 174. It is also available on SkyDirect channel 31 and on select cable operators in the Philippines.

Easter weekend also saw the demise of Toonami, a cable channel operated by Turner Broadcasting. After nearly six years on the air, Toonami was officially shut down on March 31, 2018.

A sister channel of Cartoon Network and Boomerang, Toonami was known to air a selection of anime and American action cartoon series. Among the notable programs that were aired on Toonami include ‘Batman’, ‘Teen Titans’, ‘Ben 10’, ‘Inazuma Eleven Go’, ‘Yu-Gi-Oh’, ‘Yo-Kai Watch’ and ‘Dragon Ball Z’.

The shutdown of Toonami had huge repercussions to Filipino anime fans who still mourn the loss of local anime channel Hero. At the time it was taken off the air, Toonami was broadcasting the ongoing ‘Dragon Ball Super’ series which has yet to be launched on Filipino free TV.

It remains to be seen if Cartoon Network will be able to revive the Toonami primetime block to accommodate its displaced programs. But for anime fans who are looking for other ways to watch their favorite programs, there are other options such as cable channels Animax and AniPlus, as well as anime streaming websites.

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Is RPN-9 Destined to Return?

The RPN name and logo was last used on air in 2012, after which Solar Television took full control of the network’s airtime. (Logo courtesy of the Radio Philippines Network)

All eyes are on Channel 9 and a possible return to the RPN name.

On July 21, Solar News Channel decided to drop the word ‘Solar’ from its news programs. Consequentially, the renamed programs are now simply known as ‘Daybreak’ (morning), ‘The Headlines’ (news updates per 15 minutes), ‘Newsday’ (afternoon), ‘Cebuano News’ (Cebuano language afternoon), ‘Kapampangan News’ (Kapampangan language afternoon), ‘Network News’ (early evening), ‘Nightly News’ (late evening), and ‘Sports Desk’ (sports).

In a related development, Media Newser Philippines also reported through a network insider that News9, the news department of the original Radio Philippines Network, will also be revived to replace the Solar News name, with a target launch slated for the last quarter of 2014. The report came after Ramon Ang of San Miguel Corporation acquired RPN’s stake from Solar Entertainment.

Then starting August 16, cartoons and educational programs will take over SNC’s weekend morning programming. SNC’s ‘Kids Weekend’ will feature the return of ‘Sesame Street’ to Philippine television, as well as other memorable cartoons such as the ‘Care Bears’, ‘Strawberry Shortcake’, ‘Batman’ and the DC Comics Universe, and ‘Pokemon’.

With all these developments, does this mean the old Radio Philippines Network name will return on the air? Or will this lead to an even bigger plan?

Let’s face it, Channel 9 is and will always be known as RPN-9. Not Solar News Channel, C/S 9, Solar TV, ETC, or any other incarnation in its history. RPN has been an iconic brand on Philippine television, and through good times and bad, the network always provided a great show for its viewers.

More importantly, with SNC’s slow move away from a purely news-oriented network, the possibility of bringing back the RPN name on air seems certain. Even the revival of the long-running but recently retired newscast ‘NewsWatch’ is bound to happen.

But there is one problem. Ramon Ang recently acquired a 30% stake of GMA Network, which means that he now has two stations in his watch. According to Media Newser Philippines, a merger between GMA and Solar News is inevitable, unless Ang gives up partial ownership of Channel 9.

Ang’s ownership of both networks will certainly affect the fortunes of both parties. Since GMA News and Public Affairs is the more recognizable and more credible of the two, they will be more than happy to absorb Solar News into their department. And as far as viewers are concerned, Solar News remains an unproven commodity even after three years of continuous operation.

Then again, these are all possibilities and might be subject to change in the near future.

It is clear that the sun is definitely setting on Channel 9’s latest incarnation. As the ‘Solar’ name is quietly being retired from the brand, a new era in the history of the Radio Philippines Network is about to take place.

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