news, Philippines, politics, public affairs

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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FTT Year 2016 in Review: The 20 Stories That Define the Year in Media (Part II)

Another year is about to end. But before the calendar flips to 2017, here is a look back at the year that was in television and radio. This article looks back at the 20 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.

The End of Kris TV

‘Kris TV’ had been an early morning staple for nearly five years. With Kris Aquino at the helm, ‘Kris TV’ became one of the most enduring talk shows of the decade, and despite all the criticisms and low ratings thrown at them, ABS-CBN kept the faith on both Kris and the show itself.

But on March 23, Kris Aquino made a stunning announcement that she will officially bid farewell due to her recent health issues. As it turned out, this was ‘Kris TV”s last original episode, with the show continuing to air reruns until April 15, before it was replaced by ‘Magandang Buhay’.

Since then, Kris appeared as a guest on rival GMA talk show ‘Yan ang Morning’, and was scheduled to interview President Rodrigo Duterte in November until the latter no-showed due to illness.

News5 Loses Men to Duterte

Speaking of President Duterte, his cabinet featured a select number of former News5 anchors and reporters. This included PCOO chief Martin Andanar, DOT spokesperson Cherie Mercado, and assistant secretary for media relations Mia Reyes.

With the departure of numerous on-air staff, News5 was forced to implement new measures such as solo anchors on select ‘Aksyon’ newscasts. Unfortunately, it did not mitigate the damage that News5 endured this year, so much so that its head Luchi Cruz-Valdes even contemplated on relinquishing her post in favor of a cabinet position, a rumor that was eventually quashed.

However, this was not the only problem that TV5 faced this year.

Dissolution of TV5’s Entertainment Department

Late last year, TV5 reached out to VIVA Entertainment head Vic del Rosario to reinvigorate its entertainment division. The end result of this collaboration included shows such as ‘Ang Panday’, ‘Bakit Manipis ang Ulap’, ‘Born to Be a Star’ and ‘Tasya Fantasya’.

Unfortunately, none of VIVA’s shows clicked, with questionable scheduling and low ratings to blame for the issues. As a result, new TV5 head Chot Reyes had no choice but to start over, dissolving TV5’s entertainment division, and cutting ties with VIVA in September.

For now, TV5 airs TV shopping blocks, Tagalized canned programs and movies, News5 shows and the PBA, while waiting for Chot Reyes to renovate the station from within.

The Rebirth of CNN Philippines

Last year, CNN Philippines was heavily criticized for its revolving door of anchors, a penchant for airing HLN and CNN International shows, and a lack of commitment towards breaking news. Enter Armie Jarin-Bennett, a CNN International veteran who decided to give CNN Philippines an extreme makeover.

Within a year since her entry, CNN Philippines transformed itself into a force in the world of journalism almost overnight. New locally flavored shows were introduced, and newly-hired hosts and anchors such as Pinky Webb, Ruth Cabal, Andrei Felix and Anthony Pangilinan were brought in.

The end result is a positively-reviewed news organization which now strives to tell the story of the Filipino, as evidenced by the network’s highly-praised coverage of the vice presidential debates.

PTV-4’s Revitalization and IBC-13’s Sale, as Promised by President Duterte

Upon assuming office on June 30, President Rodrigo Duterte promised sweeping changes for the country. None was more evident than in the two networks that are owned by the government: PTV-4 and IBC-13.

President Duterte’s plan for PTV-4 is to become a public service network in the mold of the PBS in the U.S. and the BBC in the U.K. As for IBC-13, his objective is to sell the network to private investors for P10 billion, with the eye towards revitalizing its seemingly moribund programming.

While the proposals will take some time, one can only hope that the two networks will soon return to form as the country’s respective government and general entertainment station.

Part III of this four-part series is coming up this Thursday. Stay tuned.

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News5 Needs a Revamp (Part I)

The problems surrounding TV5 has also spread to the news department.

Within two months, News5 lost two of its regular anchors to the government of President Rodrigo Duterte. In early June, Martin Andanar was appointed secretary of the Presidential Communication and Operations Office, then just recently, Cherie Mercado accepted the post of spokesperson by the Department of Transportation.

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The task given to me by President Rody Duterte, to bring our government media agencies back to its good old glory days, is colossal. This requires a clear vision, 100% dedication, extraordinary capacity, political will and the grit to fight inefficiencies caused by corruption. Difficult as it may be, I wholeheartedly accepted the challenge to serve our 16th President and our Country. Now, I'm in the process of hiring the best, the brightest and the boldest. My friends, I ask for your fervent prayers and support because the road ahead will be long and rough. Thank you President Digong for the full trust and confidence. It is truly an honor to be in your cabinet. Like what President Digong always says again and again, "STOP". Yes I will do everything to STOP corruption at the Presidential Communication and Operations Office. That's my commitment. #DU30 #Stop #ChangeIsComing

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Martin had been the face of News5 for many years, having served as an anchor and executive, as well as the voice of Radyo5 92.3 News FM. On the other hand, Cherie was a holdover from ABC 5 during the ownership of Tonyboy Cojuangco, having been employed by the network for over a decade.

Ironically, their departures were felt by the Tulfo brothers themselves. Since Martin’s departure, Erwin Tulfo has become the sole host of his Radyo5 program ‘Punto Asintado’, while brother Raffy remained the lone anchor of ‘Aksyon sa Tanghali’ following Cherie’s departure (though at times he was paired with usual weather reporter Marga Vargas).

In addition, Cherie’s radio program ‘Trabaho Lang’ was cancelled following her resignation. That said, it was clear to News5 that their decision to leave for the government is a bitter pill to swallow.

But their departures are not the only reason why News5 is at an all-time low. Programming, content and questionable personnel decisions have become the Achilles’ heel of the division for a long time, and it dragged TV5 further down once they underwent a total housecleaning.

For instance, ‘Aksyon sa Tanghali’, the newscast anchored by Raffy Tulfo, borders more towards sensationalized news. In fact, the show goes as far as to be considered a ‘Wanted sa Radyo’ in newscast form, mainly due to the inclusion of the ‘Itimbre Mo Kay Tulfo’ segment.

In contrast, ‘Aksyon Tonite’ anchors Ed Lingao and Cheryl Cosim have done a great job minimizing sensationalized news in favor of national issues. That said, it’s hard to fathom why ‘Aksyon”s other newscasts failed to follow the example set by ‘Aksyon Tonite’.

Radyo5 92.3 News FM also has its own share of problems, due to the presence of vacant timeslots. The fact that they lacked any capable personnel to host its programs is a clear sign that the only news-centric FM radio station in the country is on the rocks.

The lack of public service and commentary programs on TV5 are also glaring. The only such programs that currently air on TV5 right now are ‘ReAksyon’ and ‘Alagang Kapatid’, with ‘History with Lourd’ and ‘Public Atorni’ airing reruns.

Their hiring of ‘EMAJs’ (entertainers masquerading as journalists) have also affected the division. Let’s face it, no one would want guys like Jun Sabayton, Lourd de Veyra, Grace Lee and Shawn Yao to man the network’s news coverage.

Finally, AksyonTV’s decision to end most of its Radyo5 simulcasts in favor of blocktimers such as ‘EZ Shop’, ‘Shop TV’ and ‘Shop Japan’ is a clear sign that News5 is no longer intent on sustaining the embattled channel. That said, AksyonTV could be on the verge of becoming a predominantly sports channel in a similar vein as ABS-CBN Sports+Action.

So what urgent plans are needed for News5 to regain its old glory? Find out this Thursday on Part II of this article.

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