news, Philippines, politics, public affairs, television

Finally: ABS-CBN Newscasts Move to High Definition

Here is some good news for Kapamilya viewers.

On Easter Sunday, April 1, newscasts on ABS-CBN Channel 2 began to air on 16:9 high definition. The conversion began with the 10:00 a.m. ‘News Patrol’, followed by the network’s flagship newscasts ‘TV Patrol’ (both weekend and weeknight editions) and ‘Bandila’ (both DZMM TeleRadyo and ABS-CBN editions).

Here is a comparison of ‘News Patrol’ in standard definition (pre-April 1) and in high definition (since April 1) in the following videos.

News Patrol in 4:3 standard definition (courtesy of ABS-CBN News)

News Patrol in 16:9 high definition (courtesy of ABS-CBN News)

The full implementation of ABS-CBN newscasts in HD marked the latest step in the network’s ongoing conversion to this new television technology. However, the changeover was not an easy one.

When ABS-CBN launched its 16:9 high definition feed in October 2015, only its entertainment programs were able to adopt this new technology. As such, ABS-CBN News programs remained in 4:3 standard definition, and whenever it was shown on ABS-CBN HD, black pillarboxes can be seen.

However, the news division was given a glimmer of hope in March 2016 when the ABS-CBN News Channel premiered its own HD feed. This enabled ABS-CBN News to utilize some of its newly-purchased HD cameras for live reports.

Despite that, Channel 2’s newscasts remained in 4:3 SD, mainly to compensate for the regional outlets’ slow adoption to HD technology. But as the impending switch to high definition became imminent, ABS-CBN realized the need for a change.

Thus came the launch of ABS-CBN’s high definition newscasts on Easter Sunday. It was an odd move to say the least, but it was perfect timing for the network since its news operations on television and radio resume around this time.

As mentioned earlier, ‘News Patrol’, ‘TV Patrol’ and ‘Bandila’ are now seen in 16:9 high definition, but they are not the only newscasts that made the move. Even DZMM TeleRadyo’s ‘Headline Pilipinas’ was also converted to 16:9 HD.

But not all newscasts changed over to the new standard. ‘TV Patrol”s regional versions continue to air in 4:3 SD, as are a majority of ABS-CBN Regional programs and even DZMM TeleRadyo.

Still, there is plenty of time for ABS-CBN to implement the new high definition standard to DZMM and the network’s regional affiliates. But for now, enjoy watching ‘TV Patrol’, ‘Bandila’ and all ABS-CBN newscasts in crystal clear 16:9 HD.

ABS-CBN HD is available exclusively on SkyCable channel 167 and to premium access subscribers on iWant TV. ANC HD is available exclusively on SkyCable channel 182 and to premium access subscribers on iWant TV.

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How Did Encantadia and Other Fantaseryes Hurt GMA in the Long Term?

GMA’s big investment on fantaseryes took its toll on the network’s long-term plans. (Photo credit: GMA Network)

The upcoming requel of ‘Encantadia’ is worth watching, that is, if you’re really a die-hard Kapuso fan.

But while anticipation is high on the new ‘Encantadia’, the broadcasting and financial aspect of GMA leaves a lot to be desired. It’s already 2016, and yet GMA is still way behind its competitors as far as their broadcast standards are concerned.

Much of the blame was due to the numerous big-budget primetime fantaseryes that GMA produced in the mid to late 2000s. With so much money invested on these projects, their ability to spend on updated equipment, facilities and other production and talent matters was compromised in the long term.

From 2004 to 2011, GMA produced big-budget fantaseryes such as ‘Mulawin’, ‘Darna’, the ‘Encantadia’ trilogy, ‘Captain Barbell’ and ‘Dyesebel’, among others. They were able to succeed in the ratings, but the high costs of making these series soon took its toll on GMA.

Looking at how GMA currently stacks up with ABS-CBN and TV5, it is clear that they have a lot of catching up to do. In fact, there were some key factors present on ABS-CBN and TV5 that were absent on GMA, such as:

  • An independent sports division (Shakey’s V-League and Manny Pacquiao fights, among others, were co-produced by other outfits)
  • Experimental 16:9 HD broadcasts (GMA still airs its programs in 4:3 standard definition, save for recent imported programs and TAPE-produced ‘Princess in the Palace; GMA also lacks an HD channel of its own)
  • Sister digital TV channels (ABS-CBN has CineMo and Yey!, while TV5 has Catsup)
  • Cable and satellite TV subscription service (ABS-CBN has SkyCable, while TV5 has Cignal)
  • Video-on-demand, livestream and digital-exclusive online service (ABS-CBN has iWanTV, while TV5 has News5Everywhere and Digital5)

Factor in the ongoing problems within the Artist Center, GMA’s regional networks, sister station GMA News TV, GMA Films and the public relationship department, and you have a network that is now standing on just one leg. Poor GMA.

It’s a pity to see GMA struggle at almost everything in recent years, and now that they’ll produce a requel of ‘Encantadia’, more problems lie ahead. That said, if GMA continues its ongoing slide, they will be in for a rude awakening.

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news, Philippines, politics, public affairs, television

Coming Soon: ANC HD on SkyCable

The ever-innovative ABS-CBN News Channel will have its own HD channel coming soon. (Logo courtesy of ABS-CBN)

ABS-CBN is launching a third HD channel soon.

After giving the flagship Channel 2 and Sports+Action its own HD channel (available exclusively on SkyCable), the network finally decided that the time is right for the ABS-CBN News Channel to have an HD channel as well. This announcement took place yesterday in a press conference inside the ABS-CBN Broadcast Center in Quezon City.

According to Integrated News and Current Affairs head Ging Reyes, the impending launch of ANC HD should cement its position as the gold standard and primary source for Philippine news and analysis for the country’s business and political leaders. She then voiced her thoughts on ANC HD and the channel in general in the statement below.

This is what ANC has continuously strived to be: the best, most reliable, and prestigious English language, all-news channel in the Philippines. There is still a lot more in store for ANC, as we mark twenty years this coming May. Stay tuned for these exciting developments.

Indeed they still have a lot more in store, as two months from now the 2016 national elections will take place. And ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs will have all of it covered, from the campaign period to the day of the voting and eventually the final results.

With the impending launch of ANC HD, how will this affect the news programming of Channel 2 and the Regional Network Group? While ABS-CBN Channel 2 has its own HD channel, some of its news programming (e.g. ‘TV Patrol’) are still shot in standard definition, and as a result, they are still considered a work in progress.

That said, it may take awhile for the ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs to embrace the high definition platform full-time. For now, patience is of the virtue, and for a network that has pioneered HD broadcasting in the country, there is still time to make it all happen.

The assigned channel of ANC HD on SkyCable will be revealed soon. Stay tuned for further details.

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FTT Year 2015 in Review: Television’s Worst

Another year is about to end. But before the calendar flips to 2016, here is a look back at the year that was in television and radio. This article looks back at the 10 worst moments in Philippine television this year.

GMA Scraps Sunday TV Mass

On January 4, GMA decided to cease its broadcast of the Family TV Mass organized by the Society of Divine Word – Mission Communications Foundation, Inc. (SVD-MCFI), replacing it with the movie block ‘Kapuso Sine Klasika’. The Sunday Mass of SVD-MCFI returned to its old home in IBC-13 a week later.

Poor ratings of the Sunday Mass was among the reasons behind the cancellation. Despite the claims of many that GMA is promoting apathy and not favoring the Catholic religion, they still managed to cover (albeit not as dedicated as other stations) the visit of Pope Francis to the Philippines, as well as produce a religiously-themed teleserye ‘Pari ‘Koy’ starring Dingdong Dantes.

Gone Too Soon for KISPinoy and Misterless Misis

‘KISPinoy’ and ‘Misterless Misis’ aired for only three episodes each during the third quarter of 2015. The former was axed in late July, while the latter received a postponement (or possibly a cancellation) notice the following month.

Both events paved the way for VIVA to take over TV5’s entertainment department, with Vic del Rosario replacing Wilma Galvante.

PBB, It’s Showtime Summoned by MTRCB

‘Pinoy Big Brother: 737’ and ‘It’s Showtime’ were each summoned by the MTRCB for offending viewer sensibilities. The former was for the so-called ‘bromance’ involving teen housemates Bailey May and Kenzo Gutierrez, while the latter was for the alleged ‘pimping’ of ‘Pastillas Girl’ Angelica Yap in the ‘Nasaan Ka Mr. Pastillas’ skit.

Both shows eventually complied by imposing self-regulatory measures, among other rulings. MTRCB also summoned GMA’s ‘The Rich Man’s Daughter’ for strong language inappropriate to viewers.

GMA’s Finances Put Into Question

Despite an increase in revenue, GMA’s financial capabilities were on the hot seat anew this year. The increased revenue was done at the expense of the network’s ‘streamlining’ efforts which featured, among others, the closure of regional networks and programs, and the termination of long-time employees.

Felipe Gozon’s reluctance to sell a part of the network’s shares was also a major issue. Talks between him and Ramon Ang collapsed in August (with the latter later accusing Gozon of estafa), and a few months later, Gozon rejected offers from Chavit Singson and Manny Pacquiao to purchase a part of the network.

Pope Francis, SONA and APEC Coverage Issues

Not all news networks were able to cover the three biggest news events of the year. GMA News TV received major heat for their lack of coverage in both the visit of Pope Francis in the Philippines and the State of the Nation Address, while AksyonTV was criticized for their non-coverage of the APEC Summit.

The two embattled news networks deserved a lot of blame this year. Speaking of AksyonTV,…

AksyonTV’s Identity Crisis Continues

Admit it or not, AksyonTV really needs a makeover. No longer the 24/7 all-Filipino free TV news channel of years past, the network is now increasingly littered with sports coverage, ranging from major leagues like the PSL to more low-scale ones like the PCBL.

Perhaps the time is now for the network to bring back the AKTV name it once used as a blocktimer on IBC-13. After all, AksyonTV’s glory days are behind them.

StarStruck’s Disaster

The return of ‘StarStruck’ proved to be a glorified failure, as ratings and a questionable timeslot doomed the reality show’s sixth season. It was also long overdue, and it would have made a big difference for the network had it been placed opposite ‘Pinoy Big Brother: 737’.

That said, there may never be another season of ‘StarStruck’ after this. So much for hype gone wrong.

Goodbye Showbiz Talk Shows As We Know It

Easter Sunday of this year marked the final episode of the 16-year-old ‘The Buzz’. Seven months later, ‘Startalk’ took a bow as well after 20 years on air.

A change in viewer’s taste was a key reason behind the demise of both shows. Although ‘CelebriTV’ replaced ‘Startalk’, and ABS-CBN planned to revive ‘The Buzz’ in the future, it won’t be easy adapting to a new audience.

CNN Philippines Not Living Up to Expectations

Launched last March 15, CNN Philippines was supposed to be a local version of its parent network. However, a lot of issues surfaced from the beginning.

Whether it’s due to the revolving door of anchors and reporters, an overemphasis on Nancy Grace or the lack of round-the-clock news coverage, it is clear that CNN Philippines is still a work in progress. That said, Nine Media will need to make a lot of changes to ensure that this venture between them and CNN won’t end quickly.

NBA on ABS-CBN Demoted to the Studio

Since February, NBA coverage on ABS-CBN and ABS-CBN Sports+Action has been purely local, handled in-studio by Boom Gonzalez, TJ Manotoc, Ronnie Magsanoc and Benjie Paras. But to the surprise of many, only Manotoc traveled to the United States to cover the NBA Finals, and ABS-CBN opted to call the games in-studio rather than on location.

Delayed broadcast of the NBA games were a primary reason behind ABS-CBN’s questionable decision. Still, with digitization looming, and the migration to HD underway, it seems like this is a more logical solution for the network to save costs.

In tomorrow’s year-end special, From the Tube will look back at the 10 best moments in Philippine television this 2015.

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ABS-CBN Continues Transition to HD

ABS-CBN officially launched its new HD channel last Saturday, part of a continuing transition to digital high definition television for the network. (Logo courtesy of ABS-CBN)

ABS-CBN’s conversion to high definition continues.

On Saturday, the network officially launched ABS-CBN HD, the first-ever HD free TV channel in the Philippines. It is currently available on Channel 167 for SkyCable and Destiny Cable subscribers, and Channel 700 for provincial subscribers.

Viewers with a high-definition digibox can enjoy some of ABS-CBN’s most popular programs in crystal clear HD. As of this article, only ‘Maalaala Mo Kaya’, ‘Wansapanatym’, ‘Ipaglaban Mo’, ‘ASAP’ and Kapamilya Gold and Primetime Bida teleseryes are currently shot with HD cameras, with other programming to follow suit.

ABS-CBN began to experiment with high definition television when it launched Balls HD in 2009. The channel’s launch coincided with the opening of UAAP Season 72, which became the first local event to be broadcast in high definition.

Two years later, ‘Budoy’ became the network’s first teleserye to be shot with HD cameras, which was then followed by the network’s other dramas. And just two weeks ago, ‘ASAP’ became the first non-drama program on the network to be shot with HD cameras.

All in all, ABS-CBN’s forays with high-definition and other technologies were signs that the network is seriously preparing for the conversion to digital television here in the Philippines. Not bad for the pioneering television network which was established in 1953.

With the launch of ABS-CBN HD, let’s just hope that in the near future, the other networks will follow suit. This will not be an easy task for the other local networks, but with digitization fast approaching, time is definitely of the essence.

Note: Balls HD, which formerly occupied Channel 167, is now assigned to Channel 195 for SkyCable and Destiny Cable subscribers, and Channel 701 for provincial subscribers. ABS-CBN HD can also be seen on iWanTV.

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Evaluating the First Month of the NCAA on ABS-CBN Sports V.2

The NCAA’s return to ABS-CBN Sports has been a good one so far. (Logo courtesy of the NCAA)

The second incarnation of the NCAA on ABS-CBN Sports is now a month old.

The oldest collegiate league in the country returned to ABS-CBN Sports in hopes of getting back on track. So far, though, viewers were treated to a slightly similar broadcast approach as the one that Sports5 previously handled, with a few differences of course.

Here’s a look at how ABS-CBN was able to make their mark on the league so far.

Use of Taglish

Unexpectedly, the network decided to use Taglish while calling the games. In their first run from 2002-12, ABS-CBN Sports announcers called the NCAA games in English, but with Sports+Action increasingly attracting a mass audience, the use of Taglish was necessitated.

This was the same approach that TV5 used when they covered the NCAA, but unfortunately for them, they failed to catch on for various reasons.

Emphasis on Social Media

The NCAA on ABS-CBN Sports also tapped in a new market called social media. Throughout each game, tweets and Instagram posts from players, fans and even basketball enthusiasts are read by the announcers in relation to the game at hand, with an official hashtag to boot.

They even allow announcers to take pre-game selfies (a novel practice in sports broadcasting), which are then posted to their individual Instagram accounts. And for the curious viewers, graphics of the announcers’ names now include their Twitter and/or Instagram accounts.

New Announcers

Speaking of announcers, ABS-CBN Sports employed a mix of young and experienced broadcasters to the NCAA game. Anton Roxas and Andrei Felix were carried over from the original incarnation, while Boom Labrusca, who also doubles as a courtside reporter, is a neophyte to the play-by-play profession.

Unlike TV5 which used former professional players as analysts, ABS-CBN hired mostly former collegiate standouts in order to relate better with the college game. The network has used Mikee Reyes, Migs Bustos, Martin Antonio and Olsen Racela to analyze the games, with Racela having also worked with the Sports5 crew in the past.

Familiar and Not-So Familiar Courtside Reporters

Those who have watched the NCAA so far may notice some familiar and unsuspecting faces to the courtside reporter spot. Before the season began, ABS-CBN Sports announced that cosplayer, Hero TV jock and former ‘Pinoy Big Brother’ housemate Myrtle Sarrosa would be one of the courtside reporters for the season.

Since then, Myrtle was joined by the aforementioned Boom Labrusca, followed by Ceej Tantengco and Rox Montealegre. Quite a familiar bunch, but one with little experience to the world of sports.

The ABS-CBN Sports courtside reporters have three different responsibilities:

  1. To report on the teams’ strategies,
  2. To interview a player’s family members and friends, school alumni, students or fans, and
  3. To interview players and coaches during pregame and postgame (if applicable)

The said strategy is similar to what TV5 employed, but with less on-cam time.

Halftime Presentations

Halftime of each game usually consists of a brief glimpse of a school’s cheering exhibition, followed by a special feature and an analysis of the first half. For the viewers who had enough of TV5’s radical changes (e.g. Moneyball), this is a welcome development to bring back the intended mission of the NCAA: to promote loyalty, camaraderie and school spirit.

HD Broadcasts and Return of Smart and PLDT

In a surprise move, ABS-CBN welcomed Smart and PLDT as sponsors. The two telecommunications outfits are a sister company of ABS-CBN’s competitor TV5, which is a stunning move to say the least.

And finally, the NCAA games are now broadcast in its full 16:9 HD glory. While ABS-CBN Sports was the first to broadcast an event in HD, they did not fully take advantage of the new technology until this year.

So far, it’s been a beneficial first month of NCAA coverage. And while some would disagree with these moves, ABS-CBN is clearly intent on taking serious steps to make the NCAA more appealing to the masses.

The season is still a long way to go, but from the looks of it, the NCAA has found a perfect partner to thrive with. With a few tweaks, expect this partnership to last a lot longer.

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