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GMA’s Own 5:00 P.M. Regional Programming Issue

ABS-CBN is not the only major television network with a regional programming problem.

Archrival GMA also endures its fair share of issues when it comes to regional programs. Similar to what ABS-CBN experiences, GMA’s biggest concern is at the 5:00 p.m. slot where regional news programs are aired in the provinces in lieu of shows relayed straight from Metro Manila.

Just last Monday, GMA’s Mindanao-based channels began to air a new regional newscast titled ‘One Mindanao’. The program is anchored by longtime Mindanao-based GMA anchors Tek Ocampo, Sarah Hilomen-Velasco and Real Soroche, and is aired on weekdays at 5:00 p.m.

Like ‘Balitang Amianan’ (Dagupan and Ilocos) and ‘Balitang Bisdak’ (Cebu), ‘One Mindanao’ preempts the first 30-40 minutes of ‘Wowowin’, the GMA afternoon game show hosted by Willie Revillame. But as far as GMA is concerned, this was just a minor inconvenience.

Consider the following factors:

  1. Most GMA regional networks are now mere relay outlets following the closure of most stations and the layoff of its employees.
  2. ‘Wowowin’ is still aired after the newscasts, thus no need to reair the show the following morning.
  3. ‘Wowowin’ more often than not beats an ABS-CBN Koreanovela (only a few relay areas receive such programs due to regional ‘TV Patrol’) in the ratings game regardless of either Kantar or AGB Nielsen.

With that in mind, it was clear to GMA that they are undeterred about the overall programming disparity between Greater Manila Area and regional areas. However, with the entry of ‘One Mindanao’ in the Mindanao area, they now have every reason to worry since ‘Wowowin”s audience will be reduced significantly.

Issues among ABS-CBN and GMA’s regional network programs are in dire need of a resolution. The 5:00 p.m. slot, usually a haven for regional networks to produce their newscasts, is one example of what each network needs to do to make things all the more parallel.

But since GMA currently has less regional stations than ABS-CBN, their own concern may be revisited once they decide to resuscitate some of these stations. For now, GMA can only hope that their regional networks’ standing will be improved with each step.

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Loss of Regional Outlets Another Cause of Concern for GMA

Regional networks become the latest area of concern for GMA. (Photo credit: GMA Network)

Things have gone from bad to worse for GMA.

After enduring numerous issues concerning programs, artists, manpower, advertising and revenue, the Kapuso network’s next obstacle comes from its regional networks. Just last weekend, GMA closed its four regional offices in Cagayan de Oro, Bacolod, Naga and Ilocos, cancelled morning shows in Cebu and Davao, and laid off at least 100 employees.

In response, GMA released a statement saying that“the strategic streamlining is geared towards increasing ratings and revenues of all of its regional stations from more efficient operations.” 

Furthermore, the network stated that they are “not closing down any regional station”, but rather they (except Cebu, Davao, Iloilo and Dagupan) will be continued as “satellite selling stations”, pending completion of the study and recommendation of the Regional TV Review Committee.

The network also mentioned that the news programs in Cebu, Davao, Iloilo and Dagupan will remain and will be strengthened, despite the cancellation of other regional programs in the morning. And finally, GMA also promised to offer its affected personnel “severance packages”.

This latest development definitely hurt GMA’s regional network group. Even though the network mentioned that no regional stations will be closed, it is clear that the lack of manpower and operations in the key cities will force GMA to use its Metro Manila relay feed, rendering them at a disadvantage against ABS-CBN’s RNGs.

That said, with ABS-CBN’s regional stations in Bacolod, Cagayan de Oro, Naga and Ilocos still operating, viewers may find themselves watching more regional news on ABS-CBN than on GMA due to the latter station’s closure. It may also contradict their statement regarding strategic streamlining for increased ratings and revenues, further hurting the network’s overall budget.

GMA’s loss of regional outlets will be severely felt throughout Timog Avenue and its remaining satellite offices. One must wonder when GMA will ever rebuild its regional network group after this debacle. Only time will tell.

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