action, cable TV, digital television, satellite TV, television

CT Signs Off, Plus Dream Satellite TV Ends Service

Cable and satellite subscribers in the Philippines received some bad news to end 2017.

CT No More

At midnight of January 1st, Solar Entertainment-owned CT permanently signed off after six years on air. Its closure was due to low ratings and redundancy of its programming.

CT initially launched on the small screen as CHASE on December 21, 2011. The channel was then renamed twice in its run, first as Jack City and then to CT.

CT was first seen on free TV for a few years when Solar partnered with BEAM Channel 31 to carry the channel. That partnership ended in 2014 when BEAM decided to prioritize its growing number of digital channels, leading to Solar relegating CT to cable and satellite partners.

CT took a big hit in 2017 when Solar became involved in a carriage dispute with SkyCable regarding NBA broadcast rights. Consequently, CT became one of the few Solar entities dropped by SkyCable amid the controversy.

Following its closure, some of CT’s programs were moved to either ETC, 2nd Avenue or Jack TV.

Dream Shuts Down

Also at midnight of January 1st, subscribers of Dream Satellite TV were stunned to see the pioneering direct-to-home satellite television service cease its operations. Here is the statement of Dream with regards to the discontinuation of their service.

Dream Satellite TV was initially launched on April 22, 2001. It made Philippine television history as the first to offer direct-to-home satellite television subscription to its customers.

Unfortunately, Dream encountered numerous problems from the get-go. Despite gaining around 100,000 subscribers, the company faced mounting debts owing to lack of revenue and unpaid fees to other companies.

To make matters worse, newer satellite subscription services such as Cignal, Sky Direct and G Sat began to emerge from the scene. And with Dream offering an inferior channel lineup compared to its younger competitors, it had no chance of survival.

The good news for Dream’s displaced subscribers is that they may have the option to switch to any of the aforementioned satellite or cable TV services. The bad news though is that they need to shell out lots of money to switch to another provider, unless each of them will offer a compensation deal.

ABS-CBN sister company Creative Programs Inc. also announced that some of its channels will close shop this month. For more on this developing story, stay tuned on From the Tube this January.

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action, drama, entertainment, Philippines, television

Cignal Steps In for Incapable TV5

The lack of an entertainment division on TV5 has forced its affiliates to pick up the slack.

Satellite subscription service Cignal recently launched its entertainment division, with the intent towards distributing content to its online and satellite television platforms. The newly-launched Cignal Entertainment will kick things off with the mini-series ‘Tukhang’.

The two-episode pilot will air July 22 on Colours and Sari-Sari Channel. It will star James Blanco, Karel Marquez, Mon Confiado, Jake Macapagal, Janna Victoria, Butch Francisco, Yul Servo, Archi Adamos, Jerould Aceron and Zandra Summer.

Cignal Entertainment will also have a few other offerings in store for its subscribers. They are:

Born Beautiful – The sequel to the critically-acclaimed movie ‘Die Beautiful’, it will star Christian Bables as Barbs. The story will pick up from the time Trisha (Paolo Ballesteros) died.

The Orbiters – This original series will star Cedrick Juan, Malak So, Bob Jbeili and Victor Anastacio. It will be directed by Miko Livelo and Dominic Lim.

Sleepless – Another independent film that is being transformed into a television series, it will star Albie Casino, Mara Lopez, Trina Legaspi, Acey Aguilar, Shaira Mae and Martin Escudero. Directed by Prime Cruz.

Feels Like Forever – An original series that focuses on love and other things that can happen in 24 hours. It will be directed by Sigrid Andrea P. Bernardo and Ivan Payawal.

With the exception of ‘Tukhang’, all of Cignal Entertainment’s upcoming series will be produced by The IdeaFirst Company. The company’s president, Perci Intalan, is a former entertainment head at TV5.

The only way to go is up, and as TV5 focuses more on sports, news and imported entertainment shows, Cignal makes sure that the entertainment aspect within the MVP Group will not go down quietly. The division is still young, but with the help of independent producers such as IdeaFirst, all the hard work should be worth it.

Now let’s just hope that the new Cignal Entertainment will not fall from grace the same way TV5’s entertainment division did. This is a prime opportunity for Manny V. Pangilinan to bounce back, so make it count.

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Philippines, Sports, television, United States

Pacquiao vs. Horn: A Different Feel

Manny Pacquiao vs. Jeff Horn will have somewhat of a different feel for viewers.

For many years, Manny Pacquiao fights were among the most highly-anticipated events in the world. In the United States, Pacquiao fights equal to millions of pay-per-view buys, and in the Philippines, it amounts to thousands of packed venues and a lighter-than-usual traffic.

But after the lukewarm reception of Pacquiao’s previous fight with Jesse Vargas, it is clear that interest in his fights are waning. After all, Pacquiao is closing in on 40 years of age and it seems that his best days as a power-punching weapon were now behind them.

Which is why in the United States, pay-per-view is no longer an option in the Pacquiao-Horn fight. Realizing the decline of interest in his fights, promoter Top Rank announced that the aforementioned bout will air on a basic cable channel in ESPN, hoping that a switch to a more readily available medium will rekindle interest in him.

Over in the Philippines, the Pacquiao-Horn fight will still be aired live on pay-per-view. ABS-CBN will hold exclusive pay-per-view rights to Pacquiao vs. Horn after signing an agreement with manager Arnold Vegafria last June 9, which also includes video-on-demand, internet and mobile broadcasts.

Due to ABS-CBN’s exclusivity, rival cable and satellite companies have no choice but to agree to the broadcast giant with regards to the carriage of the fight. This includes Cignal TV, a main rival of ABS-CBN affiliate SkyCable.

Meanwhile, GMA will have the rights to free TV and radio coverage of Pacquiao vs. Horn, after signing its own deal with Vegafria the following week. But like many Pacquiao fights aired on the network, the bout with Horn will be seen on a delayed basis, with plenty of commercial placement to boot.

As for long-time Pacquiao rightsholder Solar Sports, they will still air his fight with Horn on a delayed basis as well. However, Solar Entertainment will no longer play a key role in distributing the event on pay-per-view after ABS-CBN’s acquisition of rights.

While the Pacquiao-Horn fight will not be as highly anticipated as previous Pacquiao bouts, viewers can still expect a very entertaining contest. Father Time may be catching up to Pacquiao, but the ‘fighting senator’ should still be at his very best come fight time.

Manny Pacquiao vs. Jeff Horn, the Battle of Brisbane, will take place this Sunday morning at 9:00 a.m. It will be held live at the Suncorp Stadium.

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Philippines, Sports, television, United States

A Bilingual NBA Finals on ABS-CBN Sports

English or Filipino?

That has been a long-standing dilemma for NBA fans whenever the Finals begin. For the past several years, they have two options to choose from: free TV NBA Finals coverage featuring local commentators in the Filipino language, or cable TV NBA Finals coverage featuring American commentators in the English language.

This year is different, however.

For the 2017 NBA Finals, ABS-CBN decided to air every game live on its flagship Channel 2. As always, the broadcast on Channel 2 features Filipino-language commentary, led by Boom Gonzalez and TJ Manotoc who were assigned on-site.

But that’s not where it all ended. The network also elected to air the Finals live on S+A channel 23 as well, albeit with the use of American commentators in the English language.

The main reason behind this bilingual simulcast of the finals is simple: to cater to two types of NBA fans. After all, there are some fans who like the Filipino broadcast while others choose to listen to the more natural American broadcast.

The decision also stems from the controversy surrounding SkyCable and Solar Entertainment. Thanks to the sudden pullout of the latter’s Basketball TV and NBA Premium TV from SkyCable’s lineup, ABS-CBN has no choice but to air the English commentary of the Finals on S+A to benefit disgruntled subscribers.

However, for those who have Cignal and Cablelink in their service, there is no need to worry. Solar Entertainment’s Basketball TV and NBA Premium TV are also covering the NBA Finals in its original English form.

As of June 6, the Golden State Warriors are leading the Cleveland Cavaliers 2-0 in the 2017 NBA Finals. The Warriors are also undefeated in postseason play, with 14 wins through its 14 games.

Games 3 and 4 will take place this Thursday and Saturday respectively in Cleveland. If necessary, Game 5 (at Golden State) will be next Tuesday, Game 6 (at Cleveland) on June 16 and Game 7 (at Golden State) on June 19.

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entertainment, Latin America, Philippines, Sports

Rio Olympics on TV5: A Review

TV5’s coverage of the Rio Olympics was not a good one, as their free TV outlets failed to commit themselves to full-blown coverage. (Logos courtesy of the MVP Group and the International Olympic Committee)

The Olympic season has come to an end.

The 2016 Rio Summer Olympics officially concluded yesterday with a colorful closing ceremony, followed by the turn-over of hosting rights to Tokyo, Japan. The close of the event capped off two weeks of unforgettable moments and problematic issues that tested Rio’s resolve and courage.

This year’s broadcast of the Rio Olympics was solely handled by TV5, and much like the games itself, it endured a lot of difficulties. Many expected TV5 to fill in most of their hours with Olympic coverage, yet they failed to do so.

Much of the blame is centered around their continued airing of TV shopping blocks, Tagalized movies and other entertainment programming during the two-week Olympic period (this does not include the PBA Governors’ Cup). TV5 should have preempted them just for the Olympics, but it never happened despite their best efforts.

Even sister station AksyonTV had its own share of issues, but to a lesser extent. While the Olympics were ongoing, they still showed the Philippine Super Liga finals, the PBA D-League playoffs, and the opening of the CESAFI basketball tournament, all of which were the network’s priorities.

However, during vacant hours, AksyonTV still showed a TV shopping block, ‘Relasyon’ and ‘Wanted sa Radyo’. They should have preempted them for Olympic highlights.

One thing in common about TV5’s free TV Olympic coverage was their inability to re-air events that were aired live in the wee hours of the morning. Rio’s time is similar to that of New York, and TV5’s failure to take account of the time difference and the lack of TV audience during that period proved to be their doom.

There were some positives in the network’s Olympic coverage, however. TV5, along with sister companies Cignal, PLDT and Smart, collaborated for a multi-platform broadcast that involved satellite and internet subscription.

Despite that, the free TV coverage of the Olympics remains important. Considering that not all people subscribe to Cignal, PLDT and Smart, TV5 should have prioritized their free TV platforms to benefit their competitors.

Overall, it was an F grade for TV5’s Olympic coverage this year. Their coverage was doomed from the start, and their poor planning effort was not what the viewers wanted to see from the so-called ‘Olympic Network’.

So where will the Olympic coverage in the Philippines go from here? The lack of suitable options will be biggest issue for the Philippine Olympic Committee, since a variety of issues hound all of the country’s free TV networks.

Regardless, the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics is still four years away. That said, the POC will need to think about their options very well, and for the networks, good luck in trying to snatch the rights to the 2020 Games.

As for TV5, it was an opportunity that blew right before their very eyes. Now they should look forward for the long-awaited rebuilding process, one that should put them back on track.

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news, Philippines, politics, public affairs, television

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.

#J1breds to match our studio's red theme. @jordans_daily

A post shared by Renz Ongkiko (@renzongkiko) on

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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