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FTT Year 2014 in Review: GMA

Another year is about to end. But before the calendar flips to 2015, here is a look back at the year that was in television and radio. This article will focus on the GMA Network, who endured yet another frustrating year.

Positives

In a year where anything could go wrong, only a few bright spots remained on the corner of EDSA and Timog Avenue.

GMA’s Afternoon Prime emerged as the network’s top performer on weekdays, with ‘Villa Quintana’ and its successor ‘The Half Sisters’ leading the way. Also enjoying impressive performances were ‘The Borrowed Wife’, ‘Yagit’, ‘Innamorata’ and ‘Ang Lihim ni Annasandra’.

Afternoon Prime’s predecessor ‘Eat Bulaga’ remained a force on noontime, gaining some notoriety for its ‘Suffer Sireyna’ segment. Fellow long-running programs ‘Bubble Gang’, ‘I-Witness’ and ‘Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho’ also continued to impress viewers.

Perhaps the most welcome sight on the Kapuso network this year was the return of the Sunday TV Mass after a four-year absence. In response to criticisms that GMA was biased towards Catholics, they got the services of Society of Divine Word – Mission Communications Foundation, Inc. (SVD-MCFI) to broadcast the weekly mass every Sunday morning, thus appeasing their Catholic viewers for now.

And finally, GMA earned numerous awards in both local and international award-giving bodies. GMA News and Public Affairs, in particular, continued to garner praise for its excellent journalistic work by winning another Peabody Award, in addition to numerous New York Festival awards.

Negatives

If there is one network who deserves much of the blame for its failures, it is GMA. And 2014 was just another tough year for the No. 2 network.

GMA Telebabad continued to be an underwhelming performer for the Kapuso network. Virtually every teleserye GMA threw at its disposal failed to make an impact, including the four-week long historical drama series ‘Ilustrado’, who performed badly against its rivals from Mother Ignacia.

The 19-year old ‘Startalk’ also underperformed this year, with timeslot changes to blame for its poor performance. Neither a return to Sundays (vs. ‘Buzz ng Bayan’/’The Buzz’), nor a transfer back to Saturdays (vs. ‘Ipaglaban Mo’ and ‘Failon Ngayon’) helped ‘Startalk”s performance this year.

An ongoing purge to GMA’s weekend programming proved to be not as tense as last year, although the slumping ‘Sunday All Stars’, a clear candidate for cancellation, moved to a later time to avoid ‘ASAP’. Three movie blocks on Sundays, along with ‘Asian Horror Stories’ on Saturdays, did not help GMA at all.

Being the king at answering ABS-CBN’s every move, GMA countered ‘Meteor Garden’ and other Kapamilya throwback Asianovelas by re-airing ‘Jewel in the Palace’, ‘Coffee Prince’ and others, none of which were successful. GMA also countered ABS-CBN by airing ‘Marian’, ‘Bet ng Bayan’ and ‘Don’t Lose the Money’ versus its rival’s programs, again to negative results.

Controversy also affected GMA in 2014. Both Aljur Abrenica and embattled GMA employees under the name ‘Talents Association of GMA’ filed lawsuits against the network for various complaints, while Sen. Bong Revilla’s arrest due to the PDAF scandal prompted the network to cancel ‘Kap’s Amazing Stories’ to avoid any negative publicity.

Overall, it was an abysmal year for GMA, both in terms of ratings, financial performance, and standards of quality.

Outlook

Ramon Ang may have taken some of the shares, but GMA’s fortunes continue to revolve around their aging pair of owners in Felipe Gozon and Gilberto Duavit. So expect another difficult and trying year on the corner of EDSA and Timog Avenue.

‘Second Chances’, a long-overdue series, will kick off GMA’s slate of new programs this 2015, but it remains to be seen whether or not will there be second chances for the said network this year. One thing’s for sure: a wild ride continues for the men and women inside the GMA Network Center.

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GMA Responds to ABS-CBN’s Throwbackseryes

‘Bantatay’ will be re-aired on GMA starting November 10, replacing ‘Return of the Wife’. (Logo courtesy of GMA Network)

The so-called ‘throwbackserye’ has taken over GMA as well.

After ABS-CBN decided to air re-runs of previous teleseryes in the mid-morning slot, GMA answered back with one of their own. The Kapuso network’s response was ‘Bantatay’, a drama-comedy-fantasy series starring Raymart Santiago, Gelli de Belen, Jennica Garcia and Carl Guevara.

‘Bantatay’ first aired from September 20, 2010 to February 25, 2011 on the then-extended GMA Dramarama sa Hapon (now Afternoon Prime) block. The series garnered high ratings throughout its run, despite facing intense competition from the likes of ‘Kokey @ Ako’ and ‘Sabel’.

Unfortunately for GMA, the timing for the rebroadcast of ‘Bantatay’ came at a not-so opportune time. The series’ lead star, Raymart Santiago, is currently enduring various issues involving himself and his estranged wife (and former GMA talent) Claudine Barretto, and re-airing ‘Bantatay’ may not be a good idea after all.

In fact, it would have been better if GMA extended its anime block to the 10:00 a.m. slot rather than responding to ABS-CBN’s own programming strategies. As far as they are concerned, it is the animes, no matter how repetitive they are to viewers, that are lifting GMA every morning.

Going back to ‘Bantatay’, the series proved to be one of the last GMA programs to date that rated well with viewers. Since ABS-CBN adopted Kantar as their ratings provider, the tables have turned to the latter’s favor, and have not looked back since.

In fact, in what used to be ‘Bantatay”s old timeslot preceding ’24 Oras’, the succeeding GMA teleseryes that followed have flopped consistently against ABS-CBN’s seemingly superior products. Whether it’s ‘Aryana’, ‘Annaliza’ or ‘Pure Love’, GMA seems to have no answers to ABS-CBN’s own fare.

That said, the sadness and shock that is permeating beneath the bosses in the corner of Timog Avenue and EDSA is undeniable. And now they are resorting to these responses just to keep themselves in the hunt, which is not a good idea.

‘Bantatay’ may be back, but for GMA, this is not the time for resorting to such a feeble call.

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1986: A Turning Point in Philippine Media

The late June Keithley, along with husband Angelo Castro Jr., were instrumental in bravely covering the EDSA Revolution and the eventual inauguration of President Corazon Aquino.

Today marks the 28th anniversary of the People Power Revolution. In commemoration of the event, this article will focus on the year 1986, a year that marked a new era in Philippine media history.

Before 1986, media in the Philippines was virtually dominated by the cronies of President Ferdinand Marcos. The most prominent of these networks were the Banahaw Broadcasting Corporation (BBC-2), and the Kanlaon Broadcasting System (KBS-9; later Radio Philippines Network). The now-People’s Television Network (PTV-4) and Intercontinental Broadcasting Corporation (IBC-13) were also established during Martial Law. The only non-crony owned network at the time was GMA, which was sold by Bob Stewart to Felipe Gozon and operated under limited three-month permits. Some radio stations were also given permission to air, provided that they avoid airing any anti-Marcos statements.

However, certain events in Philippine history forever changed the media industry. The soon-to-be Kapuso network was the only station to cover the Ninoy Aquino assassination, and wife Cory’s declaration to run for the presidency. The defections of Juan Ponce Enrile and Fidel V. Ramos from the Marcos regime was also covered by GMA. Channel 7’s brave stand was only the beginning, though.

Radio Veritas followed GMA’s lead by broadcasting Jaime Cardinal Sin’s message, urging people from all walks of life to flood the Murphy and Greenhills sections of EDSA in an effort to protect Enrile and Ramos. When Veritas was seized by the Marcos troops, Radyo Bandido (DZRJ 810) took over, with real-life couple June Keithley and Angelo Castro, Jr. broadcasting the proceedings.

Meanwhile, a broadcast of President Marcos’ press conference was aired on Channels 4 and 9, only to be cut off the air by the rebels. By this time, Marcos’ grip on power was slipping away, although he made a final official TV appearance as president when GMA and IBC covered his inauguration, which like Channels 4 and 9 were also invaded and cut off by the rebels.

While the inauguration of Corazon Aquino at Club Filipino was preserved on videotape, it was unclear if any network in the Philippines aired the said event. Nevertheless, with the departure of Ferdinand Marcos from Malacanang, the freedom of the press was restored, and with it came the return of ABS-CBN and the sequestration of Channels 4, 9 and 13.

The year 1986 was a period of change and progress in the Philippine media industry. The once-censored media is gone, and with it came a more free-wheeling and conscious approach to broadcasting, although it remains subject to various regulations by the Kapisanan ng Broadkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) and the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB). Even with the media now more widespread than ever, the lessons of Martial Law and EDSA will never be forgotten, and the experiences of each outlet will continue to have a huge impact on the industry in the years to come.

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TV5 Moves to the New TV5 Media Center

The computer-generated model of the TV5 Media Center at the corner of Reliance and Sheridan in Mandaluyong City.

Today is the first working day for News5 employees in its new headquarters in Mandaluyong City. The TV5 Media Center, a brainchild of owner Manny V. Pangilinan, will serve as the corporate headquarters of the network, and will feature six TV studios, newsrooms for News5, post-production facilities, a radio booth for Radyo5 92.3 News FM, technical operating rooms, and production space for TV5’s other programs.

Construction of the TV5 Media Center began on January 2011, and took nearly three years to complete. The new edifice is built as part of TV5’s ongoing efforts to update existing technologies and facilities for a seamless transition to digital broadcasting. In addition, its close proximity to the center of Metro Manila and its highly elevated location should yield a much-improved broadcast signal.

With the move to the new Media Center, TV5 becomes the fourth major broadcast network to operate in Mandaluyong City. Quest Broadcasting’s Magic 89.9, 99.5 Play FM and Jam 88.3, and FBS Radio’s Mellow 947 currently operate at Paragon Plaza in the corner of EDSA and Reliance, while Solar Entertainment currently operate at the Worldwide Corporate Center in Shaw Boulevard.

The opening of the TV5 Media Center should give a huge boost for the Kapatid network, as it continues to find its niche as an alternative to common programming.

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