entertainment, lifestyle, news, paid programming, Philippines, public affairs, religion, Sports, television

FTT Year 2014 in Review: Other Networks

Another year is about to end. But before the calendar flips to 2015, here is a look back at the year that was in television and radio. This article will focus on the minor TV networks in the Philippines.

Highlights

A transitional period from the Solar News Channel to CNN Philippines got underway in August. Temporarily known as 9TV, the network was launched on August 23 after Antonio Cabangon-Chua purchased the network from Solar Entertainment’s Wilson Tieng; CNN later signed an agreement with Nine Media Corporation to rename the station as CNN Philippines early next year.

Net 25 also unveiled a new look, featuring a logo inspired from an eagle’s wing (in reference to its parent Eagle Broadcasting Corporation). The station then joined forces with sister station INC-TV 49 to cover the events surrounding the centennial of the Iglesia ni Cristo, including the Grand Evangelical Mission at the Philippine Arena that opened the centennial celebrations.

And finally, UNTV broke ground on the new broadcast center that will open in two years. The groundbreaking ceremony kicked off the station’s 10th anniversary (13th if the rock music format of UNTV were to be included in its history).

Lowlights

In June, IBC-13 and Asian Television Content Corporation joined forces to launch the ATC @ IBC block, featuring a lineup consisting of telenovelas, lifestyle and travel programs, and sports events. Low ratings and loss of revenue caused the block to be cancelled, though ATC later returned to broadcast the PBA Developmental League’s Aspirants Cup on IBC-13 in late October.

Solar Entertainment’s problems continued after the loss of 9TV to the ALC Group. Weeks after the sale of Solar News to Chua’s group was announced, Solar lost another partner in RMN and BEAM Inc. after the latter ceased its affiliation agreement, resulting in the loss of Jack City from free TV 31 in favor of religious programming and O Shopping block.

PTV-4 also made some drastic steps to improve their programming. While ‘Oh Ja Ryong is Coming’ was launched as planned, ‘K-Pop Idol Search – Pinoy Edition’, a partnership between PTV and HBKOR Inc., remains in limbo, as its launch date remains uncertain.

Outlook

The transition to digital television in a few years represents numerous challenges for the minor networks, some of which involve budgetary concerns. Still this is an obstacle that can be overcome, especially now that Philippine television is headed into a new era.

Both the ATC-IBC and PTV-HBKOR deals are at a crossroads, while Nine Media’s new venture as CNN Philippines is about to get underway. This and more as 2015 begins in earnest.

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entertainment, Philippines, television

The Net 25 Under the INC Spell

The original Net 25 logo, back before the Iglesia ni Cristo made its way to Net 25’s air time. (Logo courtesy of Eagle Broadcasting Corporation).

Back when they were still not airing Iglesia ni Cristo programs, Net 25 provided alternative programming for viewers too bored to watch teleseryes. Remember when they used to air Ocean Girl, Thunder Stone, The New Yankee Workshop, House Calls, TechTV, etc.? That was the Net 25 I used to know. Now it is all but a distant memory.

The old Net 25 delivered programs that were cited with the Anak TV seal. It had a dedicated fanbase who loved to watch the network’s canned programs from various countries such as Australia and Germany. And they were also one of the first networks to air techie programs from the now-defunct TechTV network in the US. Unfortunately, when the heated Iglesia ni Cristo-Ang Dating Daan feud got underway in 2001, Net 25 stepped in to air INC’s Ang Tamang Daan while SBN 21 aired ADD at the 9:00 p.m. timeslot.

Gradually Net 25 added more programs produced by the Iglesia ni Cristo, rendering its canned programs expendable. In the years that followed, the network started producing their own programs, such as Convergence, while expanding their focus on the INC. Even as GEM-TV 49 (now INC-TV) started to air in 2005, Net 25 continues to air programming from the INC.

In my view, Net 25 today is merely a clone of INC-TV, featuring most of the same programming and focus. And although Net 25 still airs news programs and general interest shows, it is clear that they focus more on the programs produced by the Iglesia ni Cristo. No disrespect to the INC, but this is not how Net 25 is being run. Why? Because both channels are on free TV. Had INC-TV become a cable-exclusive network rather than a free TV channel, Net 25 would have been complemented by the network and given block time.

To this day, I don’t think Net 25 has what it takes to become a distinct and useful source for alternative programming. They used to be ‘the’ network with never-before-seen canned programs. But with the Iglesia ni Cristo invading most of their air time, Net 25 became a mere shell of its former self, supplementing rather than complementing its programs. The old Net 25 is great, but the current one is just too cluttered.

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