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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 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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Tulfo Brothers’ Departure Leaves Radyo5 in a Tight Spot

The crisis within News5 reached a new level last week.

A few weeks ago, brothers Erwin and Ben Tulfo, and Ed Lingao were engaged in a war of words in both social media and in their respective programs. To make the long story short, here is how the story began.

Erwin’s brother Ben then defended him against Ed Lingao on his ‘Bitag Live’ program last June 20, 2017. The said video was quickly uploaded on the ‘Bitag’ YouTube page, and Ed later responded to Ben’s comments on Facebook.

However, in light of a personal tragedy involving Ed Lingao, Ben and his staff elected to remove the video. After that, Ben issued a public apology on social media.

Nevertheless, News5 management, led by Luchi Cruz-Valdes, were disappointed with the situation. On Friday, June 30, they posted this official statement condemning the controversy between the Tulfo brothers and Ed Lingao.

But by the time TV5 issued this statement, the damage has been done. On Thursday, June 29, Erwin announced his departure from Radyo5, and several hours later, brother Ben also called it quits.

While Ben quickly moved ‘Bitag Live’ to PTV-4, as of today, Erwin has yet to announce a new station of his own. Nevertheless, Erwin continues to appear alongside his brother and Alex Santos on ‘Kilos Pronto’, in addition to a Facebook-only broadcast called ‘Erwin Tulfo Live’.

As for Radyo5 92.3 News FM, they made some changes to their programming lineup in light of the departure of Ben and Erwin. The departed ‘Bitag Live’ was replaced by ‘Aksyon Solusyon’ which was then extended to two hours, while ‘Punto Asintado’ is now being handled by substitute anchors.

Unfortunately for Miguel Belmonte, the programming changes did little to mitigate this crisis. Radyo5 is already thin on talent, and with the Tulfo brothers (save for Raffy who remains under contract) now gone, the situation only got worse.

In fact, host Alex Tinsay cannot do it alone. While he is the regular host of ‘Aksyon Solusyon’, he has also pinched-hit for the Tulfo brothers in their programs, but with Ben and Erwin no longer in the fold, the challenge even got trickier.

So much so that Menchie Silvestre (host of ‘Alagang Kapatid’) and Niña Taduran (Raffy’s co-host on ‘Wanted sa Radyo’) are penciled in to take over ‘Aksyon Solusyon’ on the interim. But if Radyo5 were smart, there are others hosts who can fill in the void.

Take Cheryl Cosim for example. The host of ‘Serbisyong Kapatid’ and ‘Healthline with Cheryl Cosim’ has also hosted ‘Punto Asintado’ in the past, and with her current two programs in the same mold as ‘Aksyon Solusyon’, Radyo5 should consider giving her a slot on either program.

Maricel Halili, the host of ‘Iba Yung Pinoy’, is another option, having pinched-hit on ‘Punto Asintado’ on a few occasions. So is Lourd de Veyra, another occasional pinch-hitter on the show.

Ed Lingao, who has rarely, if not never, worked on radio, could also be a viable option, provided that he is allowed to return. Or they could welcome back the now-former DOTR spokesperson Cherie Mercado and revive ‘Trabaho Lang’ as a morning program, if she is allowed more time with her family.

Overall, Miguel Belmonte has plenty of tricks up his sleeve, but it will be up to him to deliver the goods. This is now a litmus test for Radyo5 92.3 News FM, so let’s see how will they play this out.

Otherwise they can just reformat into an easy listening station ala 96.3 Easy Rock. Simple as that.

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TV5 Rebrands Its Newscasts Under the Aksyon Banner

Starting July 14, TV5’s ‘Aksyon’  newscasts will not only be seen in the early evening, but also in the morning, at noontime and during late nights. (Photo credit: News5 Everywhere)

Goodbye ‘Good Morning Ser’, ‘Andar ng mga Balita’, and ‘Pilipinas News’.

As part of its ongoing ‘Signal No. 5: Umuulan ng Saya’ campaign, TV5 has announced that its newscasts will be rebranded under the ‘Aksyon’ banner beginning this July 14. The newscasts are as follows: ‘Aksyon sa Umaga’, ‘Aksyon sa Tanghali’, and ‘Aksyon Tonite’. The three newscasts will be joined by the flagship early evening newscast ‘Aksyon’.

As a result of the rebrand,  ‘Good Morning Ser’ (formerly ‘Good Morning Club’), ‘Andar ng mga Balita’ and ‘Pilipinas News’ will bid farewell today after a three-year run. ‘Pilipinas News Weekend’ will then air its final newscast on Sunday, with a replacement yet to be determined.

‘Aksyon sa Umaga’ will retain the services of Martin Andanar and Lourd de Veyra from ‘Good Morning Ser’. In addition, Grace Lee, who previously anchored ‘Aksyon Weekend’ and hosted ‘Good Morning Girls’, will be added as the third anchor. Like its predecessor, it will be a two-hour news and talk-based program.

‘Aksyon sa Tanghali’ will be anchored by Raffy Tulfo and Cherie Mercado. The ‘T3: Reload’ and ‘Wanted sa Radyo’ host is no stranger to anchoring a noontime newscast, having anchored ‘Balitaang Tapat’ two years earlier. Meanwhile Cherie Mercado moves from late nights to noontime after anchoring ‘Pilipinas News’ for over two years.

The flagship ‘Aksyon’ newscast will still be anchored by Erwin Tulfo, but his new partner will be no less than News5’s Head of News and Information, Luchi Cruz-Valdes. Luchi’s ‘Reaksyon’ program will no longer be independent from any newscast, but instead it will be incorporated as one of the segments of ‘Aksyon’.

And finally, ‘Aksyon Tonite’ will retain Paolo Bediones from ‘Pilipinas News’, but Cheryl Cosim from ‘Aksyon’ will now serve as his new partner. Like its predecessor, ‘Aksyon Tonite’ will be a 30-minute newscast that will recap the biggest news of the day.

The rebranded ‘Aksyon’ newscasts, along with ‘Aksyon Alert’ and ‘Aksyon Breaking’ news updates, are intended to strengthen and unify TV5’s news department under the ‘One Brand News Program’ approach. But it remains to be seen if the rebrand to ‘Aksyon’ will pay off.

New Timeslot for ‘T3’

‘T3: Reload’ was scheduled to move to a new timeslot this Monday. However, the change of timeslot came a week early.

Last Monday, viewers were surprised to see Raffy and Ben Tulfo host their public service program at noontime. Monday’s edition of ‘T3’ was actually a replay of last Friday’s episode, but it was not until the live Tuesday edition that the Tulfo brothers officially confirmed the show’s new timeslot.

‘T3: Reload”s move to noontime was intended to accommodate the NCAA Season 90 seniors basketball game on TV5, which moved to 4:00 p.m. from 2:00 p.m. the previous week. However, AksyonTV and Radyo5 92.3 News FM did not air the program simultaneously (‘Relasyon’ of Atty. Mel Sta. Maria and Luchi Cruz-Valdes was aired instead), as they were not informed of ‘T3”s premature timeslot change.

However, expect both AksyonTV and Radyo5 to make some changes in their programming lineup this Monday, in order to accommodate ‘T3: Reload’ and ‘Aksyon’ newscasts.

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Radyo5 Still Preferred Over DZMM, DZBB On the Road

Radyo5 92.3 News FM remains the leading all-news station for drivers in Metro Manila.

Four years ago, TV5 made a daring decision to launch Radyo5 92.3 News FM, the first all-news radio station on the FM band. They even made a catchphrase to promote the move, telling listeners to leave the old and distorted sounds of the AM band (“Iwanan mo na ang lumang tunog ng AM”).  This year, Radyo5’s reputation continues to grow, even as it remains the only such station on the FM band.

The PSRC Car Coincidental Survey recently ranked Radyo5 as the most preferred all-news radio station among Metro Manila motorists in 2013, ahead of traditional AM radio rivals DZMM Radyo Patrol 630 and Super Radyo DZBB 594. While it is unfair to compare Radyo5 to the AM stations of ABS-CBN and GMA due to its difference in modulation, the fact that more and more drivers are shifting to Radyo5 for its clearer sound and lack of distortion compared to its AM contemporaries only justified its No. 1 ranking.

This past year, Radyo5 welcomed Ben Tulfo and Orly Mercado to its stable of hosts. Ben, who along with brothers Erwin and Raffy host ‘T3: Reload’ on TV5, brought his ‘Bitag Live’ program to the station, while Orly returned to the broadcast booth via ‘Orly Mercado: All Ready’. In addition, the station moved from the old Novaliches studios to the TV5 Media Center in Mandaluyong, just in time to welcome 2014.

All told, 2014 is shaping up to be an even better year for Radyo5, especially now that they have upgraded their facilities and relocated to the virtual center of Metro Manila. And with the drivers continuing to prefer Radyo5 over its AM counterparts, expect the station to once again top the motorists’ surveys.

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