news, Philippines, public affairs, television

Thoughts on Trillanes Amnesty News Coverage

It was an eventful news day yesterday.

Around 10:00 a.m. Tuesday, Malacañang announced that it will void the amnesty provision awarded to Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, with the senator expected to face arrest. What followed next is a long and exhaustive news coverage dedicated to this ongoing issue.

As expected, ANC, DZMM TeleRadyo, CNN Philippines and One News dedicated several hours of airtime to deliver the latest information in this saga. The same cannot be said for GMA News TV, however, as their commitment to Shop TV prevented them from becoming a factor.

The news surrounding Trillanes’ amnesty came just as the senator was about to preside over a hearing on Solicitor General Jose Calida’s security firm. There was plenty of intrigue surrounding the amnesty report; Malacañang claimed that Trillanes failed to file an application form for his amnesty, a rumor that was debunked by former press secretary Abigail Valte.

However, the Department of National Defense is still looking for the aforementioned document to prove his case. Meanwhile, a few lawmakers voiced their disapproval of the issue, saying that an amnesty can no longer be revoked unlike a pardon.

So what will come next on this ongoing saga? Find out as the news surrounding Sen. Antonio Trillanes’ amnesty revocation continues.

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Of CNNPH’s Newsroom Junior Edition and Other News Programs for Teens

News reporting is not always exclusive to adults.

When CNN Philippines announced that ‘Newsroom Junior Edition’ will air starting this Saturday, it reminded this writer of the day when Philippine television used to have news programs hosted by underage boys and girls. While these shows were few and far between, they have at least made some valuable contributions to the world of media.

One most notable example was ‘5 and Up’. The Probe Productions-produced show ran for 10 years and was one of the standout shows of GMA Network during the ‘Rainbow Satellite’ era.

‘5 and Up’ was responsible for launching the careers of brothers Rodjun and Rayver Cruz, Chynna Ortaleza, Maxene Magalona and Atom Araullo. Of the five, Atom was the only one who continued his career as a journalist, although he did have a directorial credit in the film ‘Citizen Jake’.

But before ‘5 and Up’ became a cult favorite among the youth in the 90s, ABS-CBN once had its own kids’ version of ‘TV Patrol’. While ‘Junior Patrol’ ran for only two years, it did produce current ABS-CBN News reporter Doland Castro, who now serves on the news division’s police beat.

The most recent attempt at a kids’ news program came from CNN Philippines’ mother network RPN-9. ‘Newswatch Junior Edition’ may have only lasted a few episodes in the late 2000s, but this show did manage to launch the career of blogger, model and TV host Janeena Chan.

Now it is CNN Philippines’ turn to try this seldom-used trick of using kids as news anchors. In ‘Newsroom Junior Edition’ the network will have six teenage individuals who will tackle the world of news reporting.

The hosts are:

  • Dana Villano, 16
  • Emman Rivera, 16
  • Gabby Sandejas, 16
  • Isaac Dantes, 13
  • Janella Renner, 15
  • Nate Lopez, 14

Guided by the CNN Philippines’ team of anchors and reporters, these young boys and girls will have an opportunity to deliver the week’s latest local and international news, as well as sports, entertainment, weather, technology and lifestyle news. ‘Newsroom Junior Edition’ will air on weekends at 8:00 a.m.

At the end of the day, they are still kids (or in the case of ‘Newsroom Junior Edition’, teens). But at least they should gain some first-hand experience at what it is really like in the cutthroat world of journalism (or showbiz for that matter).

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Revisiting GMA News TV and Its Epic Failures on SONA Day

This is already becoming a habit.

For GMA News TV, their perceived indifference in important news coverage is undeniable. This was none more apparent than on the day the President of the Philippines delivers his State of the Nation Address.

In almost every year since the network rebranded from QTV in 2011, the tendency for GMA News TV is that they don’t always get involved in the SONA in more ways than one. Whenever the fourth Monday of July comes, all the network does is to air regular programming as if nothing important happens.

For instance, President Rodrigo Duterte’s speech this year started at 5:17 p.m. In the meantime, GMA News TV aired ‘Quick Response Team’ in the midst of the SONA (see video below).

It is understandable that GMA management wants to focus more on Channel 7 when it comes to live coverage of the SONA. But what the management do not realize is the overall purpose of GMA News TV (and of GMA News for that matter), which in the years since its launch has been largely neglected due to extracurricular activities not related to news coverage.

Considering that its rivals from Mother Ignacia (ANC/DZMM TeleRadyo), Shaw Boulevard (CNN Philippines) and Reliance (One News) worked a more extensive analysis on the day of the SONA, it is disgraceful to see GMA News TV stand pat and do almost nothing. It is as if they never wanted to be a news channel in the first place.

Perhaps if GMA News TV becomes a cable channel instead of going to free TV like they do now, such issues would have been mitigated. Such an arrangement would have allowed the channel to go 24/7, use English as the main language and cater to upper class audiences.

Unfortunately, the station is stuck on VHF channel 11 and can only play second banana to channel 7, another VHF station. And to make matters worse, GMA doesn’t even own the former due to broadcast restrictions; ZOE continues to own the channel while GMA only leases airtime.

If they are really that disinterested to remain a news channel, they can just rebrand back to QTV or become GMA+, a secondary entertainment channel of the mother network. Or GMA can just break their lease on Channel 11 and allow ZOE to move Light back to its original channel.

In many ways, GMA News TV is an undependable channel for all things news. What GMA did to this channel is so unglorifying that their boasting as the ‘no. 1 news channel’ does not make sense at all.

And on this SONA day, this channel simply failed to deliver when it mattered most. Shame on them.

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Messed Up: 24 Oras’ Drastic Graphics Overhaul Perplexes Viewers

Welcome to ‘Extreme Makeover: 24 Oras Edition’.

This past week saw an overhaul of ’24 Oras” on-screen graphics. From the looks of it, though, the newscast seems to imitate the styles of one particular news outlet and another news program that airs on GMA.

Flashback to one week ago. This was how GMA’s flagship primetime newscast looked on-screen last time.

Exhibit A: 24 Oras

Exhibit B: 24 Oras Weekend

On Monday, however, GMA News unveiled an updated graphics package for ’24 Oras’. The newscast’s logo is shrunk in size, moved to the right and is now enveloped in a red square, while the headline/detail text box moved to the left and the digital clock was removed in favor of a longer news ticker.

The initial look did not sit well with viewers as the style was obviously copied from CNN and its affiliates (particularly CNN Philippines). Take a look at the comparison below.

Tuesday saw a minor tweak in ’24 Oras” graphics package. The logo and headline/detail text box changed positions, perhaps in response to criticisms surrounding the previous style.

This update stayed that way the following day, but on Thursday, another new wrinkle arrived. The news ticker went from black to blue while the detail box went from red to blue.

For starters, blue is the main color used on GMA’s late-night newscast ‘Saksi’ (see video below). Which makes it all the more perplexing as to why ’24 Oras’ would use a color that is not distinctly theirs.

Finally, ’24 Oras Weekend’ released its update graphics package this weekend. It was almost the same look as the one used the prior week, except that the digital clock was eliminated and the news ticker was recolored blue.

The newly-updated graphics for ’24 Oras’ were part of GMA’s newest deal with Vizrt, in which the network invested P154 million to improve its news operations. It was no secret why the initial update of its graphics were criticized for being CNN-like because CNN also uses Vizrt for its news gathering capabilities.

After all the experimentation, what will GMA News do next to ’24 Oras’ come this week? While viewers wouldn’t care less about the on-air imagery and focus more on the content itself, the lack of uniqueness and consistency in the graphics deserves lots of criticism, and GMA News must settle in with something distinct and different for ’24 Oras’.

It’s up to GMA to do something right for a change. Good luck.

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Before One News: A Look Back on AksyonTV, 5’s Failed Attempt at a News Channel

AksyonTV was the first 24/7 Filipino language news channel, but financial losses led to its transformation into T5N’s complement channel. (Logo courtesy of The 5 Network)

Next week will herald a new chapter for News5.

On May 28, the news division of The 5 Network (T5N), along with The Philippine Star and BusinessWorld, will launch One News, a 24/7 English language news channel exclusive to Cignal. But before the fireworks take place, here is a look back at 5’s former news channel AksyonTV.

AksyonTV was launched on February 21, 2011, and was initially billed by 5 as the first 24/7 Filipino language news channel on free TV. During its first few years of operation, AksyonTV filled its programming lineup with simulcasts from Radyo5 92.3 News FM, as well as original programs exclusive to the network and other shows that also air on then-TV5.

Over the next several years, however, AksyonTV slowly drifted away from its original purpose and was rendered irrelevant by television think-tanks. The gradual decline of AksyonTV can be attributed to the following factors:

  • Overspending

When AksyonTV was first launched the MVP Group was on a spending tear, pooling all their resources in hopes of making TV5 competitive and at par with long-time giants ABS-CBN and GMA. However, they failed to account the poor reach and infrastructure of the network, leading to financial losses and consequently, this next factor.

  • News5’s Problems

In order to cut its losses, News5 elected to cancel original AksyonTV programs and focused more on 5’s newscasts and radio programs. However, News5 was soon hampered by the departure of numerous top talents and the downsizing of its staff, affecting not only AksyonTV but also 5 overall, leading to this next factor.

  • Arrival of Sports and Entertainment Shows

The lack of any original news programming forced 5 to reformat AksyonTV into a complement channel of T5N, adding ESPN5 programs, entertainment shows and TV shopping to the menu. The change in AksyonTV’s content also led to the launch of Bloomberg Philippines, which eventually morphed into One News.

Overall, AksyonTV was not a bad attempt by News5 in terms of operating a news channel. But had the network improved its reach and infrastructure, AksyonTV might have remained competitive and viable alongside the likes of GMA News TV, DZMM TeleRadyo, CNN Philippines and the ABS-CBN News Channel.

Unfortunately, with the launch of One News next week, it is clear that AksyonTV has outlived its usefulness. One can only hope that 5 will do something about AksyonTV in the immediate future, whether it is rebranding the network or selling it to other broadcast outfits.

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New Trend: GMA Responds to It’s Showtime Going Overtime

Looks like a new trend in primetime newscasts has begun.

In response to ‘TV Patrol’ now airing at around 6:40 p.m. due to ‘It’s Showtime’ exceeding beyond its allotted time, GMA countered by having rival newscast ’24 Oras’ air 10-20 minutes later than its previous timeslot. To do that, GMA intentionally allowed one of its programs to go past its duration.

That turned out to be the teleserye ‘Ika-6 na Utos’, which usually airs for only 45-50 minutes at best. But Wednesday afternoon (see episode hashtag below) saw ‘Ika-6 na Utos’ go beyond its usual running time and air for 80 minutes, uncharacteristically long for a teleserye.

GMA’s version of Vice Ganda and company excessively talking for minutes came by way of long commercial breaks. But much like what ABS-CBN allowed (whether intentional or not) ‘It’s Showtime’ to do, isn’t this a little too much for viewers to take?

Consider this: ‘It’s Showtime”s archrival ‘Eat Bulaga’ is only given 2 1/2 hours of airtime by GMA from Monday to Friday due to its blocktimer status. GMA can’t obviously loosen this rule because even Antonio Tuviera is strict enough to enforce such a ruling.

They also cannot allow ‘Wowowin’ to go past its allotted time and go live because of Willie Revillame’s past controversies. The onus fell on one of GMA’s afternoon teleseryes, and that turned out to be its highest-rated program ‘Ika-6 na Utos’.

This is definitely a bad case of ‘fight fire with fire’. The recent shenanigans of ABS-CBN and GMA dragged its other programs down, and it also affected the airtimes of the respective networks’ late-night newscasts in ‘Bandila’ and ‘Saksi’.

If this game of one-upsmanship continues, both ‘TV Patrol’ and ’24 Oras’ might end up airing at an uncharacteristically late timeslot of 7:00 p.m. Not a good way to kick off the primetime slate.

But at least there are earlier primetime newscasts that viewers can tune in to. The choices include PTV-4’s ‘PTV News’ (if viewers can tolerate Erwin Tulfo’s biased reporting), CNN Philippines’ ‘News Night’, Net 25’s ‘Mata ng Agila’, UNTV’s ‘Ito ang Balita’ and even ‘Top Story’ of the ABS-CBN News Channel.

Apologies to T5N’s ‘Aksyon Prime’, but its timeslot inconsistencies are too much to handle. But regardless of that, alternatives in primetime news are worth the time and money.

Still, ABS-CBN and GMA should know all too well that time is precious. They could at least adjust this new trend in primetime programming, but they need to stop allowing its programs to go overtime so as not to compromise the patience of viewers.

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