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Around the Mediaverse: ARC, TAG Sign Off; Rappler Stripped of Registration

More sad news in Philippine cable television.

At midnight of January 15, the ABS-CBN Regional Channel and TAG permanently signed off the air. According to Creative Programs Inc., they cite a ‘change in business direction’ for the closure of the two channels.

The ARC was launched on August 1, 2016 in another attempt to make ABS-CBN Regional programs available outside its respective regional footprint. However, like the Sarimanok Channel (now the ABS-CBN News Channel), ARC was beset by various problems from the start and its inability to gain support from the mother network eventually led to its downfall.

Two months later, on October 19, TAG signed on, showing Tagalized foreign films. However, it also endured its fair share of problems, the most obvious of which is redundancy due to the fact that the films shown in the channel are also aired on sister channels such as ABS-CBN, CineMo, Cinema One and Yey!.

CPI will also end broadcast of the anime channel Hero on January 31. More on that in a future article.

Rappler Registration Revoked

Later that afternoon, some breaking news involving a rising media outlet shook the world of journalism. The Securities and Exchange Commission announced that it revoked its registration of Rappler due to an alleged violation of a rule regarding foreign ownership of media companies.

The SEC claimed that Rappler is being controlled by the Omidyar Network, a fund created by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar. Rappler denied this statement, saying that the company is ‘100% Filipino-owned’ and that Omidyar is only an investor.

Rappler’s reported revocation of its registration was vehemently criticized by the likes of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility and the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines, saying that it violated the rights of freedom of speech and the press. Malacañang denied these claims, saying Rappler violated constitutional rules and that it has nothing to do with President Rodrigo Duterte’s criticism of the outlet.

This said rule regarding the ban on foreign ownership of media companies has been in place since the 1970s. It can be recalled that GMA Network owner Robert ‘Uncle Bob’ Stewart sold the company to Felipe Gozon, Gilberto Duavit and Menardo Jimenez due to said rule, and MPB Primedia was also forced to sell its share of TV5 to Manny V. Pangilinan.

Despite its revocation, Rappler said it will continue to operate and will exhaust all legal efforts in order to reconsider SEC’s decision. Good luck with that.

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Collapse of GMA-Ang Deal Further Baffles GMA’s Business Operations

A deal between Ramon S. Ang and GMA has been terminated for unspecified reasons, furthering the already troubled business operations of the Kapuso network. (Photo credit: San Miguel Corporation)

The resuscitation of GMA Network has once again hit a roadblock.

It was announced Tuesday that talks between the said network and businessman Ramon S. Ang for the latter’s acquisition of a 30% share have been terminated. Responding to this sudden turn of events, Ang called the move surprising and unexpected, and promised to wait for any explanation by GMA regarding the situation at hand.

This was not the first time that talks between GMA and a potential investor have ended without any conclusive results. PLDT and TV5 chairman Manny V. Pangilinan have also entered talks to acquire a portion of GMA’s shares in 2001, 2004, 2012 and 2014, only to collapse in the end.

The latest development involving Ang and GMA marked the latest chapter in the decline and mismanagement of the network. Just recently, the Kapuso network have been involved in a pair of un-Kapuso-like decisions in relation to its business operations.

Late last year, 52 GMA employees were laid off while fighting for the regularization of their services, leading to a protest by the group known as ‘Talents Association of GMA’ (TAG). Claiming there were ‘unfair labor practices’, the group recently held a protest in front of the GMA headquarters in Timog Avenue.

Then in late April, GMA closed down four regional offices, canceled a pair of regional morning programs, and laid off at least 100 employees. The network claimed that they were merely streamlining its operations in order to increase ratings and revenue.

Coupled with still-declining ratings and programming quality, it is now clear why GMA is going nowhere. The lack of urgency to improve and expand the business is taking its toll on the network.

And it only made worse with its latest debacle involving Ramon S. Ang.

This is now a hopeless situation for Felipe Gozon, Gilberto Duavit and the rest of GMA management. Without any support from other investors, GMA is destined to become an afterthought in the media industry, something they cannot afford to happen.

They desperately need a new investor at this point. Perhaps a sit-down discussion with SM’s Henry Sy and family may help.

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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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Why is SM a Better Fit for GMA?

GMA should benefit more from Henry Sy and his SM chain of malls and condominiums.

GMA has been on the selling block for several months now. Several names crop up, such as Manny V. Pangilinan, owner of PLDT, Smart and TV5, and Ramon S. Ang, lead executive of San Miguel Corporation and shareholder of Philippine Airlines and Solar Entertainment. However, no one mentions Henry Sy of SM Group and his deep pockets.

For some reason, I looked forward to SM acquiring GMA. Why? Because Henry Sy is the richest man in the Philippines, and SM is an emerging conglomerate. SM, best known for its malls, has stepped up financially by building the Mall of Asia Arena and various high-rise condominiums, along with acquiring a stake in National University and revitalizing its athletics and educational program. By purchasing GMA from Felipe Gozon and Gilberto Duavit, SM should help rebuild a slumping broadcast giant, which is already suffering due to poor ratings, critically panned programming choices, and declining revenue.

Both ABS-CBN and TV5 are owned by conglomerates, and because of that, they are able to expand beyond the usual entertainment fare. In order to be at par with the other two networks, GMA needs a bigger company to thrive, and SM Group should be a good fit. But for now, it’s only a dream.

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Comparison Between News Tickers of Philippine News Networks

In all news networks, the most frequent graphic used in programs is the news ticker. These graphics were used to display the latest local and foreign news, along with the occasional entertainment and sports stories that develop in time.

Currently there are four all-news networks in the country: the ABS-CBN News Channel, GMA News TV, AksyonTV, and Solar News Channel. Each network uses a news ticker in most of their news and documentary programs. However, their usage of the ticker varies, and some even have flaws that accompany them.

With that in mind, I decided to compare the tickers of all the news networks and look at the strengths and weaknesses that each of them has. And to make this comparison as consistent as possible, the tickers used in the news programs of ABS-CBN, TV5 and GMA are excluded.

ABS-CBN News Channel

The oldest of the four current all-news networks, ANC’s ticker currently has the most consistent look of the four. Their ticker was the first in the country to display one headline at a time rather than the common ‘scrolling’ approach. They also kept up with the technological advances in television graphics by displaying the ticker in a three-dimensional style.

What I’m impressed about is that ANC uses the ticker in ALL of their programs, including re-runs of ABS-CBN public affairs programs. They also did a good job in placing the graphics of their programs above the ticker in order to prevent a distraction in case it airs again. They did have one flaw, which is the few inches of space separating the ticker, the left side  and the bottom of the screen. I hope they can lengthen and place the ticker all the way to the bottom so as not to see the remainder of the studio during live broadcasts.

Rating: 4

GMA News TV

If there is one network that defines the word ‘failure’, it is the network owned by Gilberto Duavit and Felipe Gozon. And its sister network is even worse. Already with a reputation of not airing 24/7, GMA News TV exacerbated the situation by using TWO news tickers. So why waste a lot of your money by operating two tickers, when in fact you only needed one? I just don’t get it.

The best ticker for GMA News TV is the black-clocked one used for news programs. I don’t prefer the red-clocked version used in their other programs since it is too generic and frequently interferes with the on-screen bugs; the black one is more beautiful and more appropriate to the technological advancements of the industry. And like ANC, they should place the ticker at the bottom of the screen instead of giving a few inches of separation. Overall GNTV’s ticker is a near-meh, but not as worse as the next one on the list.

Rating: 2

AksyonTV

I can’t stand AksyonTV’s ticker, mainly because of the Radyo5 92.3 News FM logo displayed after every headline. The worst part of it is that they only show it during simulcasts of Radyo5 programs, therefore creating an illusion that I was watching a TeleRadyo copycat than an AksyonTV program. And the ticker’s look was so late 1990s.

However, I do praise the placing of the ticker at the bottom, leaving no space between it. But that alone cannot make up for AksyonTV’s deficiencies, so I’ll give the network a thumbs down. It would be better if you replace the Radyo5 logo with AksyonTV’s, and use the ticker on all your programs except the live TV5 simulcasts and sporting events.

Rating: 1

Solar News Channel

While a young player in the news department, SNC has the most technologically advanced graphics of the four. And their ticker is by far the most impressive. SNC’s meticulous approach can be seen on the bottom of their screen, with the left side displaying the type of news story and the right side scrolling the headlines. Even with different looks to accompany different programs, the same basic structure of SNC’s ticker still applies.

If there was one thing I wanted to change, it is the ticker that accompanies ‘Solar Headlines‘. While simplistic, it does not serve its purpose as the other ticker. Perhaps it is time to drop that ticker in favor of the one used in newscasts such as ‘Solar Network News‘, which is more informative to the eyes.

Rating: 3.5

The addition of news networks in the country helped widen the reach of news reporting. No longer relying on newsprint and hour-long newscasts, these networks are here to deliver a more detailed coverage of events without any complications. And if there is one thing to improve, it is at the bottom of the screen where headlines are displayed. And it starts with the graphics staff fine-tuning the necessary details.

 

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