anime, cable TV, cartoon, lifestyle, Philippines, reality show, television

New Name for Lifestyle, Plus Toonami Gets the Ax

Lifestyle (Network) has a new name.

On April 2, 2018, Lifestyle was renamed and rebranded as the Metro Channel. Named after the high-end lifestyle magazine of the same name, Metro Channel will feature almost the same content as its predecessor, with a focus on food, fashion and travel programs.

Some of the programs that will air on Metro Channel include locally-produced shows such as ‘The Crawl’, ‘Casa Daza’, ‘At the Table’, ‘G Diaries’ and ‘Pia’s Postcards’. It will also feature foreign canned programs such as ‘Masterchef’, ‘America’s Next Top Model’ and ‘The Great British Bakeoff’.

Operated by ABS-CBN affiliate Creative Programs Inc., Metro Channel was originally launched on July 24, 1999 as the Lifestyle Network. It was later rebranded as ‘Lifestyle’ in 2015 with increased emphasis towards programs concerning food, fashion and travel.

Metro Channel will continue to air on SkyCable channel 52 and on high definition channel 174. It is also available on SkyDirect channel 31 and on select cable operators in the Philippines.

Easter weekend also saw the demise of Toonami, a cable channel operated by Turner Broadcasting. After nearly six years on the air, Toonami was officially shut down on March 31, 2018.

A sister channel of Cartoon Network and Boomerang, Toonami was known to air a selection of anime and American action cartoon series. Among the notable programs that were aired on Toonami include ‘Batman’, ‘Teen Titans’, ‘Ben 10’, ‘Inazuma Eleven Go’, ‘Yu-Gi-Oh’, ‘Yo-Kai Watch’ and ‘Dragon Ball Z’.

The shutdown of Toonami had huge repercussions to Filipino anime fans who still mourn the loss of local anime channel Hero. At the time it was taken off the air, Toonami was broadcasting the ongoing ‘Dragon Ball Super’ series which has yet to be launched on Filipino free TV.

It remains to be seen if Cartoon Network will be able to revive the Toonami primetime block to accommodate its displaced programs. But for anime fans who are looking for other ways to watch their favorite programs, there are other options such as cable channels Animax and AniPlus, as well as anime streaming websites.

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anime, entertainment, Philippines, television

In 150 Words: Hero Revived as Jeepney TV Programming Block

Hero is back on television, sort of.

Filipino anime fans rejoiced as the Hero brand was revived as a programming block of Jeepney TV. Starting March 11, select anime programs will be aired on Jeepney TV every Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. as part of the Hero Zone block.

It can be recalled that Hero the cable channel left the airwaves last January 31 after a 13-year run. While it became a purely digital portal that concentrated on anime, pop culture and gaming, anime viewers sorely missed its presence on television, even as sister channel Yey! tried to make up for Hero’s absence with new titles of its own.

Although if it will only be a two-hour habit once a week, viewers should be more than happy to enjoy a treat of new and on-demand anime from the Hero Zone block. Still, it remains to be seen if this experiment will be a long-term one.

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Philippines, Sports, television

Liga Is the New Balls

CPI has a new cable channel in LIGA, which will eventually serve as the main home of the 2018 FIFA World Cup (Logo courtesy of Creative Programs Inc.)

ABS-CBN’s Creative Programs Inc. has a new cable channel anew.

Following the closure of TAG, ABS-CBN Regional Channel and Hero, CPI went back to work and quietly established a new sports-oriented cable channel called LIGA. The channel’s content will eventually be focused on the 2018 FIFA World Cup, but for the time being, it airs live and classic UAAP men’s basketball and women’s volleyball matches as well as the World Cup qualifiers.

LIGA is served to complement S+A, ABS-CBN’s free TV channel dedicated to sports. While ABS-CBN Sports is the current rightsholder for the World Cup, its main channel S+A may not be enough to shoulder the burden due to its other sports commitments both internationally and locally.

Thus an alternate channel was needed to pick up the slack. Enter LIGA, which is currently on test broadcast with an official launch soon to be announced.

This is not the first time that CPI decided to establish its own sports channel. During the ensuing controversy surrounding SkyCable and Solar Entertainment in 2008 regarding carriage of the latter’s channels, CPI appeased to the demands of some sports fans with the launch of Balls, which lasted seven years before CPI ended its broadcasts in favor of S+A.

But unlike Balls which catered more to the upper echelon of society, LIGA will be more mass-oriented in nature. This despite the fact that it will contain many of the events that Balls used to air.

Now that LIGA is about to be unleashed, one can only hope that this channel will benefit sports fans in more ways than one. Not only that, as the home of the World Cup this June, football fans will be more excited than ever to see their football heroes strut their stuff in the world’s biggest stage.

Good luck.

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anime, cable TV, Japan, Philippines, television

Goodbye, Hero

Tomorrow will be the last day for Hero TV.

Hero, a cable channel of ABS-CBN affiliate Creative Programs Inc., will permanently sign off at 11:59 p.m. of January 31st. Similar to the case of now-defunct sister channels TAG and ABS-CBN Regional Channel, a ‘change of business direction’ is cited behind the closure of Hero.

Hero was first launched on November 12, 2005 and became the only channel in the Philippines to showcase Tagalized dubs of Japanese anime. The content of Hero ranged from classic anime titles (some of which were redubbed) first shown on ABS-CBN and other channels to new acquisitions fresh from its original Japanese airing.

But Hero is not exclusive to anime alone. Over the years, the channel also showcased tokusatsu programs (e.g. ‘Masked Rider’ series and ‘Shaider’) and even original programs produced by the network that focused on the cosplay culture and other anime-related news.

Just as Hero was starting to take off, however, a new digital free TV channel was being planned by ABS-CBN to eventually inherit its place. In 2011, Yey! was launched, and four years later, the ABS-CBN TVPlus digital TV box made its commercial debut.

Still, CPI soldiered on with Hero despite the presence of Yey!. Unfortunately, the growing sales of ABS-CBN TVPlus along with the rise of undubbed new anime on the internet necessitated cord-cutters to shift to these new medium, and as a result, Hero’s viability was put into question.

Sadly, such factors became too much for Hero, and in early January, CPI finally delivered the bad news. Hero would cease to exist whether its loyal fans liked it or not.

Regardless of how it ended, the 12-year run of Hero is worth remembering for Filipino anime fans. In the days leading up to its closure, Hero’s social media pages were flooded with appreciation posts, thanking them for their service in delivering Filipino-dubbed classic and fresh anime to their satisfaction.

Hero’s final call to arms should be a memorable one. But for those who still crave for more anime, there is Animax and AniPlus to deal with it, as well as Yey! for Tagalized ones.

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entertainment, internet, movies, news, online, Philippines, politics, public affairs, television

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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action, anime, entertainment, Japan, Philippines, television

Revisiting the Super Sentai Craze in the Philippines

Before the ‘Power Rangers’ existed, there was the Super Sentai series in Japan.

This week marked the premiere of Haim Saban’s ‘Power Rangers’ movie, and while critical opinion was mixed, the film to date has been a financial success so far. However, the Power Rangers franchise in general is not an original concept.

The Power Rangers were actually adopted from the Japanese Super Sentai series that is now in production for over 40 years. In fact, stock footage of every Super Sentai series were used in combination with originally produced American footage to create the Power Rangers that it is today.

The premise of the Super Sentai (and of the Power Rangers in particular) is simple. A group of normal individuals-turned-superheroes dressed in color-coded battle suits fight the forces of evil, using mecha that, when joined together, form one giant robot in order to combat a more towering monster.

The Philippines caught its first glimpse of the Super Sentai when ‘J.A.K.Q Dengekitai’ (known here as ‘The Lucky Aces’) was aired on RPN-9 back in 1978. However, it was its predecessor ‘Gorenger’ (known here as ‘Star Rangers’) which popularized the Super Sentai in the country.

The mid-1980s saw the entry of both ‘Bioman’ and ‘Maskman’ to the country. Now regarded as classics in the Super Sentai genre, ‘Bioman’ and ‘Maskman’ were regularly aired here for much of the 1980s and deep into the 1990s, and its popularity rivaled that of late 1970s robot anime ‘Voltes V’ and ‘Daimos’.

The 1990s marked the beginning of the end for Super Sentai in the Philippines. Although ‘Goggle V’, ‘Turboranger’, ‘Fiveman’ and ‘Jetman’ were introduced during this period, they were eclipsed in popularity thanks in large part to the ‘Mighty Morphin Power Rangers’, which premiered on ABS-CBN around 1995.

From then on, the Power Rangers franchise was aired in both English and Filipino dubs on the following channels: ABS-CBN Channel 2, Studio 23, Yey!, Hero and Cartoon Network. And while the Super Sentai soldiered on in its native Japan, Filipino networks have no interest in importing such series due to the changing tastes of viewers.

So while people flock to the cinemas to watch the ‘Power Rangers’ movie, let’s not forget that it is the Super Sentai which started it all. The series may be past its prime here, but its influence remains prevalent today.

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