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CT Signs Off, Plus Dream Satellite TV Ends Service

Cable and satellite subscribers in the Philippines received some bad news to end 2017.

CT No More

At midnight of January 1st, Solar Entertainment-owned CT permanently signed off after six years on air. Its closure was due to low ratings and redundancy of its programming.

CT initially launched on the small screen as CHASE on December 21, 2011. The channel was then renamed twice in its run, first as Jack City and then to CT.

CT was first seen on free TV for a few years when Solar partnered with BEAM Channel 31 to carry the channel. That partnership ended in 2014 when BEAM decided to prioritize its growing number of digital channels, leading to Solar relegating CT to cable and satellite partners.

CT took a big hit in 2017 when Solar became involved in a carriage dispute with SkyCable regarding NBA broadcast rights. Consequently, CT became one of the few Solar entities dropped by SkyCable amid the controversy.

Following its closure, some of CT’s programs were moved to either ETC, 2nd Avenue or Jack TV.

Dream Shuts Down

Also at midnight of January 1st, subscribers of Dream Satellite TV were stunned to see the pioneering direct-to-home satellite television service cease its operations. Here is the statement of Dream with regards to the discontinuation of their service.

Dream Satellite TV was initially launched on April 22, 2001. It made Philippine television history as the first to offer direct-to-home satellite television subscription to its customers.

Unfortunately, Dream encountered numerous problems from the get-go. Despite gaining around 100,000 subscribers, the company faced mounting debts owing to lack of revenue and unpaid fees to other companies.

To make matters worse, newer satellite subscription services such as Cignal, Sky Direct and G Sat began to emerge from the scene. And with Dream offering an inferior channel lineup compared to its younger competitors, it had no chance of survival.

The good news for Dream’s displaced subscribers is that they may have the option to switch to any of the aforementioned satellite or cable TV services. The bad news though is that they need to shell out lots of money to switch to another provider, unless each of them will offer a compensation deal.

ABS-CBN sister company Creative Programs Inc. also announced that some of its channels will close shop this month. For more on this developing story, stay tuned on From the Tube this January.

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Goodbye Jack City, Hello CT

CT, the newest channel created by Solar Entertainment, was launched yesterday. (Logo courtesy of Solar Entertainment Corporation)

After nearly three years, Jack City officially signed off for the last time.

The one-time free TV sister station of Jack TV bade farewell to its loyal viewers last Saturday. But instead of a merger between Jack City and Jack TV, Solar Entertainment decided to keep the Jack TV branding and establish a different channel instead.

Thus, on Sunday, March 22, Solar launched CT on the channel formerly occupied by Jack City. The new channel shares some of the programming of its predecessor, but added comedy programs, talk shows and reality series in its lineup.

According to Solar Entertainment, CT is described as:

the hippest channel for urban adventurers who have the thirst for thought provoking and buzz worthy shows, blended with citified unscripted series that aims to match the urbanite lifestyle of our viewers, and complimented with urban blended sitcoms and a talk show that completes the entertainment needs of these contemporary individuals.”

Solar added that CT caters to “the tasteful market who enjoy great quality entertainment – day or night – by watching first rate, smart programs, direct from the U.S.” That said, CT’s audience is expected to remain dominated by young urban males, in the same manner as Jack City, while its programming is versatile enough to attract female viewers as well.

As mentioned earlier, CT will feature a number of drama series that were previously aired on Jack City. Thus, the ongoing seasons of series such as ‘Chicago Fire’, ‘Grimm’ and ‘Bones’ will continue to air on the new channel.

In addition, classic comedy programs such as ‘Friends’, ‘Seinfeld’ and ‘Will and Grace’ will be re-aired. And for fans of reality and talk shows, CT will also bring ‘The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon’, among others, to its lineup.

CT is currently available on the following channels:

  • SkyCable Channel 138
  • Destiny Cable Channel 64 (Analog) and 138 (Digital)
  • Cignal Channel 22
  • Cable Link Channel 40

Viewers can only hope that CT will stick much longer than its predecessor Jack City. If Solar can manage this channel well, the better it is for CT to thrive in the long run.

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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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With Jack City Now Cable-Exclusive, Jack TV’s Future Becomes Uncertain

Jack City became a cable-exclusive network on September 1, ending Solar Entertainment’s affiliation with BEAM Channel 31. (Logo courtesy of Solar Entertainment Corporation)

It was another loss for Solar Entertainment.

A week after selling the Solar News Channel (now 9TV) and part of the Radio Philippines Network (RPN-9) to Aliw Broadcasting’s Antonio Cabangon Chua, Solar’s Jack City channel decided to part ways with affiliate Radio Mindanao Network (BEAM Channel 31). As a result, Jack City became a cable-only entity while BEAM freelanced with other blocktimers.

That left Solar Entertainment with just two free TV channel affiliates: ETC on the Southern Broadcasting Network (SBN-21), and 2nd Avenue on the Rajah Broadcasting Network (RJTV-29).

With Jack City becoming an exclusive cable channel, what will the future hold for Jack TV?

Let’s face it. Jack TV is becoming a shell of its former self. Instead of capitalizing on the funny and breathtaking side of television, as Jack TV had emphasized in their early years, they have reverted back to where they were a decade ago: a mashup of Solar USA’s old format and Jack TV’s own.

Jack TV’s identity crisis is starting to become a cause of concern for Solar, and yet they insist that the network will be fine. But it is clear that the name Jack TV (and its red and yellow motif in particular) no longer fits the type of programming they have now.

The same cannot be said of Jack TV’s sister channel, Jack City. Their black and white motif is more fitting to their darker and more mature set of programs, which in essence pay tribute to their predecessors Solar USA, C/S and CHASE.

Simply put, Jack City is an even more superior channel than that of Jack TV. And while Jack TV can still put up a strong set of programs on a daily basis, it is obvious that the said channel is starting to become a liability with the presence of its sister channel.

That said, a merger between the two channels needs to be considered, if not implemented soon. Should this happen, the old format of Jack TV will have to be integrated into one of Solar’s existing channels, while Jack City will be retained, both in name and in format.

Merging the two networks will greatly benefit Solar Entertainment, since they will only lose one of their channels. Revenue issues have become well-documented for the Solar group, especially in the aftermath of their sale of SNC and RPN to Aliw, and a possible merger between Jack TV and Jack City will help alleviate such stress.

Still, it will be up to the company’s management for that to make it happen. For now, Jack TV and Jack City will remain separate entities, at least for the foreseeable future.

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What Happened to Jack TV?

In my previous post I talked about the problems facing Solar Sports in recent years, and the need for a rebrand. But while Solar Sports is suffering from lack of content, fellow Solar network Jack TV is facing an identity crisis, something that needs to address as soon as possible.

Originally launched in 2005 as a block-timer to Solar USA, Jack TV achieved full-time network status the following year. At first, its programming ranged from sitcoms, animated comedies, wrestling programs and game shows to reality programs, gag shows and talk shows. However, in the last two years Jack TV began to reintegrate drama, suspense and action series inspired from its days as Solar USA, in anticipation of the launch of its sister network Jack City.

The resulting concoction left a bad taste in the mouths of some viewers. But perhaps the biggest damage to Jack TV’s reputation was when Solar let go of WWE programs in 2011, presumably due to high expenses. The loss of the WWE was devastating to Jack TV, as it provided wrestling fans with live pay-per-views along with full broadcasts of WWE Raw and WWE SmackDown.

Jack TV definitely needs to rebrand, period. They should start by dumping its animated comedies like The Simpsons and Family Guy, since Fox Asia currently air them. They should also get rid of sitcoms and place it on 2nd Avenue. And bring in more reality programs, such as The Biggest Loser. In short, better rename the channel or revert to the name Solar USA.

Jack TV, originally a male-dominated channel, now attracts females and high school youth. Having said that, a shift of audience also means a shift in programming, and Solar executives should begin the process of rebranding as soon as possible.

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