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1995 Flashback: The Rise and Fall of Citynet 27

Citynet 27 was the first UHF station owned by a major broadcast network. Sadly, the station lasted only six years and endured three major rebrands during that span. (Logo courtesy of GMA Network)

1995 was a memorable year in Philippine television. As part of a year-long special, From the Tube will look back at a year full of historical debuts, unforgettable moments, and celebrated feats in the history of television in the country.

ABS-CBN’s UHF TV network (currently ABS-CBN Sports+Action) has been on the air since 1996, but they’re not the first major network to have a sister UHF channel.

That distinction belonged to GMA Network’s original sister TV station, Citynet 27.  Established on August 27, 1995, the station became the fifth UHF TV network in the country, after SBN-21, DZEE-23 (the predecessor to ABS-CBN’s UHF channel), RJTV-29 and CTV-31.

Citynet 27’s initial focus was on canned programming (mostly from the U.S.), ranging from sitcoms, dramas and action series to sporting events. These programs were moved from GMA-7 in order for the latter to add more local programming.

The channel soon faced intense competition with the launch of Studio 23. While Citynet remained the premiere source for upscale-laden programs, it became clear that GMA is losing money from this venture, and by 1999, Studio 23’s continued emergence and popularity prove to be too much for Citynet to handle.

As a result, GMA had no choice but to reformat Citynet 27 into a music video channel. Initially known as EMC (Entertainment Music Channel), GMA soon joined forces with STAR TV to carry Channel V Philippines, and the rebranded station was launched near the end of 1999.

However, the partial acquisition of GMA’s stake by PLDT (later re-sold to Felipe Gozon, etc.) forced Channel V Philippines to sign off in mid-2001. Among the primary reasons include conflict of interest (PLDT owned MTV Philippines through Nation Broadcasting Company) and increasing competition with MTVPH and the newly-launched MYX.

GMA was left without a sister channel for the next four years. Then in 2005, they entered into a lease agreement with ZOE-TV and launched QTV (later rebranded as GMA News TV), with Channel 27 briefly serving as a repeater.

Today, DWDB 27 is currently inactive, possibly for future use as a digital TV outlet. The station would have turned 20 this year had GMA kept it active.

To this day, GMA continues to regret its failed experiment of Citynet 27. With the network now enduring some financial issues, they can only hope that the lessons of Citynet 27 will be applied to whatever decisions they will make moving forward.

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drama, entertainment, Philippines, television

The Impact of Pangako Sa ‘Yo on Philippine TV

The original ‘Pangako Sa ‘Yo’, starring Jericho Rosales and Kristine Hermosa, will always be remembered in Philippine television lore.

Airing from 2000 to 2002, the series was considered the first teleserye in Philippine television. The popularity of ‘Pangako Sa ‘Yo’ forever changed the landscape of primetime television viewing in the country.

Before ‘Pangako Sa ‘Yo’, primetime on Philippine television was at its most diverse, ranging from local and foreign sitcoms, action, variety and suspense programs to even animes and cartoons. However, the mid-90s foreshadowed the eventual dominance of dramas in the primetime slot, beginning with RPN-9’s ‘MariMar’ and later with ABS-CBN’s ‘Mara Clara’.

Then on November 13, 2000, ‘Pangako Sa ‘Yo’ premiered on what would later become the Primetime Bida slot (ABS-CBN did not dub the primetime block as such until 2002). The series quickly made an impact, and by 2001 it was the hottest program in the country viewership-wise.

The success of ‘Pangako Sa ‘Yo’ proved to be the last straw for GMA as a niche-oriented upscale network. Midway through 2001, GMA cancelled its Anime Assault (later known as Astig Authority) anime block from its primetime lineup and replaced them with their own teleseryes, a precursor of what later became GMA Telebabad.

However, GMA’s own lineup of teleseryes were no match for ABS-CBN’s, and eventually forced the network to introduce the fantaserye genre, which turned the tables in the mid-to-late 2000s. ABS-CBN stuck to their tried and tested formula of traditional teleseryes, even though they briefly flirted with fantaseryes, and later introduced sexual, social, political, value-oriented and culture-oriented themes to their teleseryes.

By the time ‘Pangako Sa ‘Yo’ finished its run on September 20, 2002, much of the primetime scene on weeknights, if not entirely, were dominated by teleseryes. Today, with the exception of the early evening newscasts, teleseryes are aplenty in the 5:50-11:00 p.m. window, with each episode lasting for 40-45 minutes.

Fast forward to 2015, and the remake of ‘Pangako Sa ‘Yo’ will make its way onto Primetime Bida this coming Monday. The premise is virtually similar to the original, with the love story of Yna Macaspac (Kathryn Bernardo) and Angelo Buenavista (Daniel Padilla) dominating the series along with the love triangle between Amor Powers (Jodi Sta. Maria), Claudia Buenavista (Angelica Panganiban) and Eduardo Buenavista (Ian Veneracion).

But like all recent remakes, the story of ‘Pangako Sa ‘Yo’ will be shortened, revised and compressed to today’s teleserye standards, with a timetable of at least four to eight months depending on the ratings. Still, fans of the original series cannot wait to revisit the tale that first captivated the nation in the early 2000s.

The original ‘Pangako Sa ‘Yo”s place in Philippine television history has been secured. Now it’s up to the new version to make a similar impact.

The remake of ‘Pangako Sa ‘Yo’ airs this Monday after ‘Nathaniel’ on ABS-CBN’s Primetime Bida.

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Philippines, Sports, television

ABS-CBN, TV5, GMA to Simultaneously Air Pacquiao-Mayweather Fight

Representatives of Solar Sports, ABS-CBN, GMA and TV5 come together for the special press conference announcing the joint free TV coverage of the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight on all three networks. (Photo credit: ABS-CBN Sports)

The ‘Big Three’ stations will now join forces for the much-anticipated super-fight of the century.

It was announced by Solar Sports that the bout between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. will be aired simultaneously on free TV via ABS-CBN, GMA and TV5. Solar is expected to retain production rights for the fight, but the three stations are also expected to send in their respective broadcast teams within weeks of the fight.

The Pacquiao-Mayweather fight will still be screened live in theaters and arenas throughout the country via Solar All-Access. In addition, both SkyCable and Cignal will produce a pay-per-view feed.

The radio coverage of the fight will still be exclusive to GMA’s radio division.

The simultaneous airing of the fight on Channels 2, 5 and 7 should help Solar Sports a lot in terms of shouldering the burden. After all, Wilson Tieng and company spent over P400 million just to acquire the exclusive broadcast rights for the fight, which is very costly to say the least.

Setting aside a long-standing rivalry for a major non-news event is no longer new for the ‘Big Three’. Three years ago, a musical tribute concert for the late Dolphy was aired on ABS-CBN, TV5 and GMA at the same time.

This is definitely a watershed moment in Philippine television, one that will still be discussed well after the fight is over. The three networks may have been rivals for a long while, but collaborating for a mega-fight of epic proportions should help unite Filipinos in support of its greatest hero.

The Pacquiao-Mayweather fight, dubbed ‘Battle for Greatness’, commences on May 3 Manila time.

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news, Philippines, public affairs, television

As ‘TV Patrol’ turns 27

This week marks the 28th anniversary of TV Patrol. Here’s a history lesson about the longest-running Filipino-language newscast on television, as published during the week of the program’s 27th anniversary.

PinoyJourn: Stories behind the Stories

By Andrew Jonathan S. Bagaoisan

Collage of TV Patrol logos from 1987 to 2014 TV Patrol’s logos from 1987 to 2014

For most Filipinos, it is TV Patrol that has been their window to recent history for the longest time.

It has chronicled the ups and downs of the Fifth Republic, some of them coinciding with its own. Its headlines have shown scandals in the halls of power and brawls in obscure barangay corners. And its subjects have ranged from the ordinary to the influential.

The past 12 months were no exception to big news.

TV Patrol’s crews, reporters, and anchors took their cameras to the farthest and the worst, to the best and the most awe-striking. They were at the fringes of two border disputes and at the crossfire of a downtown skirmish. They uncovered schemes of greed and deceit and covered the outrage that followed.

They saw white smoke signal change in a centuries’ old institution, welcomed…

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