A Look Back at News Coverage of the Resorts World Manila Attack

Friday’s incident at Resorts World Manila was headline news for journalists throughout the country. (Photo credit: ABS-CBN News)

Tragedy strikes on the first Friday of June.

On June 2, 2017, gunshots and fire broke out at the Resorts World Manila in Pasay City. When it was all said and done, 37 people were found dead through suffocation, and the gunman, later identified as former Department of Finance employee Jessie Carlos, shot and immolated himself to death.

Here is how the country’s major news outfits fare with the coverage of the incident.

ABS-CBN News Channel and DZMM TeleRadyo

The burden of ABS-CBN News’ coverage was shared between DZMM TeleRadyo and the ABS-CBN News Channel. Both networks went on breaking news mode the moment the attack at Resorts World Manila struck.

ANC and DZMM continued to provide updates of the tragedy over the next 24 hours, with the former somehow eschewing its regular programs in favor of the generic ‘ANC Live’ brand beginning at 11:30 a.m. DZMM continued to air its regular programs but on occasion it gave way to special coverage of the said incident.

GMA News TV

GMA News TV’s coverage began through its simulcast of DZBB shows ‘Saksi sa Dobol B’, ‘Sino?’ and ‘Dobol A sa Dobol B’. Their marathon continued through ‘News to Go’ and ‘Balitanghali’.

The network essentially preempted all regular programming in favor of TV shopping blocks for much of the afternoon. In between, newscasts such as ‘Quick Response Team’, ‘Balita Pilipinas’ and ‘State of the Nation’ continued to update on the situation.

CNN Philippines

While CNN Philippines is a 24/7 station (at least for cable and satellite subscribers), the network’s coverage at Resorts World Manila did not begin until 6:00 a.m. once ‘New Day’ kicked in. From that point on, CNN Philippines went on three different phases.

First, the network’s early morning coverage was aired in English, followed by a Filipino language marathon of the incident during the late morning through early afternoon. After that, English language coverage resumed all the way till the deep part of the evening, with some regular programming in between.

News5

Unfortunately, Luchi Cruz-Valdes’ outfit failed to deliver when it mattered most. Although Radyo5 92.3 FM (and by extension AksyonTV) provided some breaking news on the Resorts World Manila tragedy, the networks continued to air regular programming as if nothing had happened.

Even the ‘Aksyon’ newscasts on TV5 had a bad outing as well. Considering that the newscasts only have at least an hour of airtime (not to mention Raffy Tulfo’s penchant to do some extracurricular activities not related to news), it is clear that LCV and company have too little to offer with a meager cast and limited time.

The next two days saw further updates of the Resorts World Manila tragedy, but other than that, it was all back to normal programming. Additional press conferences at the Resorts World Manila, including the revelation of the gunman’s name, were a few highlights of the weekend.

Overall, it was a field day for major news networks in the country. But while Ging Reyes, Marissa Flores and Armie Jarin-Bennett have done a pretty good job putting all the work in dealing with the Resorts World Manila tragedy, the same cannot be said for Luchi Cruz-Valdes, and it’s a shame.

When tragedy strikes, somebody must take action. And in times like this, news networks and other related organizations should be first on the scene to deliver the news and bring up-to-date reports to everyone.

Why GMA’s Teleserye Countdown Timer is Overrated?

GMA is going to great lengths in hopes of winning back its audience.

The past two weekends saw the network post a countdown timer for their soon-to-air series ‘Mulawin vs. Ravena’ and ‘My Love from the Star’ (see example from ‘Dear Uge’ below). This timer was flashed during most GMA programs (exceptions are variety shows, other blocktimed programs and select GMA News shows).

The reason is unclear, but it is presumed that GMA is using the timer to promote and add some hype to their upcoming series. To be honest, though, the utilization of a countdown timer for nothing but promotion of a program is very overrated.

For starters, GMA has long been an advocate of the countdown timer, having been used to advertise not only dramas but also variety shows and other network-produced programming. However, not even the addition of a timer is enough to jack up ratings of a particular show.

‘Encantadia’, for example, had a countdown timer in the days leading up to its premiere last year. Unfortunately, despite the good reviews and the positive reception from viewers, the fantaserye failed to keep up with the juggernaut that is ‘Ang Probinsyano’.

GMA also made a countdown timer for AlDub’s ‘Destined to Be Yours’. Even though it was hyped well, the series regularly fell short to ‘My Dear Heart’ mainly because Maine Mendoza’s acting is still raw by viewers’ standards.

Contrast that to ABS-CBN’s own approach to promote a teleserye. Rather than utilizing a countdown timer like GMA does, they take advantage of the hype through social media, on-demand streaming and a strong regional and global presence.

So where does GMA stand at this point? Considering that they still have a long way to go before closing in on ABS-CBN’s national (and global) superiority, they should focus more on strengthening their regional and international reach, a deficiency that they continue to endure for many years now.

The power of social media is also a necessity for GMA to aggressively promote their programs. However, they must engage more in order to make an impact.

There are plenty of options to promote a drama. But a countdown timer for GMA teleseryes and other programs? That is unnecessary and distracting.

Tadhana: Another GMA Public Affairs’ Intervention to Entertainment

Another drama anthology will hit GMA screens this Saturday afternoon.

This time, the focus of this up-and-coming series will be on the lives of OFWs whose trials and tribulations abroad are well-documented. Their struggles to fit in another country and bring a better life to both country and family will be told every week on ‘Tadhana’, presented by Marian Rivera.

As is customary to all drama anthologies, celebrity guests will portray a particular subject(s) week after week. For the premiere of ‘Tadhana’, Kris Bernal will portray Elvie, a former Saudi Arabia-based OFW who was constantly abused by her employer, played by Ms. Cherie Gil.

Unsurprisingly, GMA Public Affairs will be responsible for the production of ‘Tadhana’. Considering their recent dabbing into non-news programming, this bit of news should once again add insult to injury to Lilybeth Rasonable and GMA’s Entertainment group.

So what challenge awaits ‘Tadhana’? For starters, this drama should pose another obstacle to ‘Ipaglaban Mo’ and ‘SOCO’ when it comes to performance.

Not only that, GMA also hopes to see a carry-over in ratings from ‘Ika-6 na Utos’ to ‘Tadhana’. With the former enjoying impressive ratings since its extension to Saturdays, the network now banks on the latter to maintain the momentum, something that ‘Karelasyon’ was not able to do.

However, expect a lot of alienation from more traditional viewers who view ‘Tadhana’ as another cowardly attempt by GMA Entertainment to get bailed out by the news division. It’s a shame, since Rasonable and company have done nothing right to salvage whatever pride they have left.

If this is indeed a production of GMA Public Affairs, ‘Tadhana’ should have been a docu-drama instead, with one of GMA News’ reporters presenting the show plus reenactments from various no-name actors and interviews from the subject involved. That said, their decision to use Marian Rivera and bring to life a story by using Kapuso actors leave a bitter taste in one’s mouth.

For now, the verdict is on ‘Tadhana’ to defy all prognosticators. Come this Saturday, this show should experience a baptism of fire.

‘Tadhana’ airs every Saturday after ‘Ika-6 na Utos’ on GMA.

The Greatest Love’s Last Week, Plus D’Originals’ Premiere Week

For one week only, it will be ‘The Greatest Love’ versus ‘D’Originals’.

This week will mark the last for ‘The Greatest Love’, the top-rating afternoon drama that starred Sylvia Sanchez as a mother suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. The series first premiered on ABS-CBN’s Kapamilya Gold block on September 5, 2016, and will finish its 163-episode run this Friday afternoon.

‘The Greatest Love’, which also starred Dimples Romana, Andi Eigenmann, Matt Evans, Arron Villaflor, Ellen Adarna and Nonie Buencamino among others, was also a constant trending topic on social media. Its inspiring and tear-jerking storyline gripped the nation and the world, giving them greater awareness to the effects of Alzheimer’s disease.

On the other side of the spectrum, GMA’s Public Affairs team will once again try to salvage whatever shortcomings the Entertainment team has had of late. Their latest project is a sexy comedy drama series, ‘D’Originals’, which will premiere today.

‘D’Originals’ (click its synopsis here) will be the network’s replacement to the short-lived ‘Pinulot Ka Lang sa Lupa’, whose brief 53-episode run concluded last Holy Wednesday. ‘D’Originals’ will also be LJ Reyes’ second project in a row on the afternoon slot after starring as Angeli in ‘Pinulot Ka Lang sa Lupa’.

Also part of ‘D’Originals’ cast are Ms. Jaclyn Jose, Kim Domingo, Katrina Halili, Jestoni Alarcon, Mark Herras, Meg Imperial, Archie Alemania, Lovely Abella, Mikoy Morales, Arny Ross, Elyson De Dios, and Chlaui Malayao. The director of the series is Adolf Alix Jr.

If ‘The Greatest Love”s impressive ratings are of any indication, then ‘D’Originals’ is in for a rude awakening. Recent GMAPA-produced entertainment shows (see ‘Dangwa’, ‘To the Top’, ‘#Like’) have failed to make a desirable impact, thus putting tremendous pressure on ‘D’Originals’ to defy all expectations.

With the dominance of ABS-CBN in the afternoon slot (save for the surprisingly popular ‘Ika-6 na Utos’), this is one battle that ‘D’Originals’ must win. Saving the reputation of both GMA Entertainment and GMA Public Affairs is a must for the series, otherwise the blame game should continue for both departments.

It’s either win or give up for ‘D’Originals’ and GMA Public Affairs. Good luck.

GMA to Revive Dobol B sa News TV Block This April

A new (or old) program block is set to return to GMA News TV.

It was announced that the ‘Dobol B sa News TV’ block will be revived on the network this coming April. The teaser below shows hosts Mike Enriquez (of ‘Saksi sa Dobol B’), Arnold Clavio and Ali Sotto (of ‘Dobol A sa Dobol B’) talking about their impending return to the small screen via GMA News TV.

Initially launched on February 28, 2011, ‘Dobol B sa News TV’ is essentially a simulcast of early morning programs from Super Radyo DZBB 594. The first iteration of the block consists of the following programs:

  • Saksi sa Dobol B (hosted by Mike Enriquez)
  • Super Balita sa Umaga Nationwide (anchored by Mike Enriquez and Joel Reyes Zobel)
  • One on One with Igan (hosted by Arnold Clavio and Lala Roque)

The block ran from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. on weekdays and it competed against DZMM TeleRadyo shows ‘Kabayan’, ‘Radyo Patrol Balita Alas-Siyete’ and ‘Failon Ngayon sa DZMM’. However, the block had its flaws, the most notable of which are the ill-timed placing of taped news reports during commercial breaks and product advisories.

GMA News TV’s Teleradyo-like experiment lasted until September 7, 2012, when it was cancelled due to low ratings. After that, with the exception of a short-lived revival of ‘Kape at Balita’, News TV’s 6:00-9:00 a.m. slot was given to reruns of GMA Public Affairs shows, classic action movies, Koreanovelas, TV shopping blocks, and even the teleserye ‘Amaya’.

The revival of ‘Dobol B sa News TV’ should give viewers another reason to believe in News TV. While the network’s quality of programming is still questionable, their recent live coverage of high-profile Senate and House hearings is a sign that the channel is improving and that a return to form is imminent.

Still, even with the return of DZBB programs to News TV, how long can this latest experiment last? One can only hope that the simulcast will be the first step towards News TV’s true transformation into a legitimate news channel without any of the extracurricular activities present in them.

TV5 Must Revamp Primetime Lineup

Odd one out: For TV5 to become truly alternative anew, they need to retire 'Aksyon Prime' for good and go with 'Aksyon Tonite' as their lone evening newscast. (Logo courtesy of TV5)

Odd one out: TV5’s primetime revamp may require ‘Aksyon Prime’ to merge with ‘Aksyon Tonite’. (Logo courtesy of TV5)

It is clear that TV5’s primetime lineup is going nowhere.

Questions abound the said lineup once Chot Reyes made it clear that he envisioned a more ‘alternative’ approach for the network. For instance, ‘Aksyon Prime’ and ‘Aksyon Tonite’ now seem out of place in Chot’s new approach, due to its ‘masa’-fied format and competition with ABS-CBN and GMA newscasts.

To make matters worse, ‘Aksyon Tonite’ recently added unproven journos in Lia Cruz and Marga Vargas, both of whom seem more suited to sports than news. And finally, PBA’s overall poor showing last season leave a lot to be desired.

With all problems considered, here is a to-do list that TV5 must do to revamp its primetime lineup.

1. Merge and Reformat Aksyon Prime and Aksyon Tonite

Two evening newscasts were too much for News5, considering the plight it endured of late. Thus, merging both ‘Aksyon Prime’ and ‘Aksyon Tonite’ into one nightly newscast is a necessity.

If that’s not enough, this merged newscast will employ a more hard news approach, and will air at 9:00 p.m. Hence, it will compete against CNN Philippines’ ‘Newsroom’, GMA News TV’s ‘State of the Nation’, ANC’s ‘The World Tonight’, and other similar newscasts.

As for the anchors and title, look no further. The newscast will carry the ‘Aksyon Tonite’ name, and Ed Lingao and Luchi Cruz-Valdes will be the anchors.

2. Replace Aksyon Prime with Sports360

The PBA games are a regular fixture on TV5 during weeknights, but the presence of ‘Aksyon Prime’ became a bane to viewers and game attendants. Placing ‘Sports360’ instead should alleviate this burden.

The format of ‘Sports360’ will remain the same. It will air for 15 minutes, and will focus mostly on viewer interaction and game analysis.

3. Foreign Canned Shows from 6 to 9 on Non-PBA Game Days

Finally, 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on a non-PBA game day will be dominated by TV5’s American action, suspense and fantasy shows. Doesn’t get more alternative than this.

Chot Reyes’ vision of a more ‘alternative’ TV5 may take time getting used to. But as far as the primetime lineup goes, solving this dilemma should be the first step, provided that management is smart enough to realize its flaws.

However, it doesn’t mean that this proposal will be achieved. Still, one can only hope that Chot Reyes will make the soundest of decisions in order to restore TV5’s fortunes, even if it means no more local entertainment fare.