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Lack of Full TV Coverage is Hurting the NCAA

NCAA coverage on television continue to be spotty at best. (Photo credit: GMA News Online)

President Noynoy Aquino’s State of the Nation Address will take place later this afternoon. Unfortunately, it is also a game day in the 90th NCAA season basketball tournament.

The NCAA doubleheader for this Monday afternoon will feature the San Beda-St. Benilde and Mapua-San Sebastian matches for both the juniors and seniors division. The seniors games are usually seen live on television, but due to today’s SONA, tape-delay broadcasts on the TV5 family of networks will be a likely scenario.

Television coverage has always been inconsistent for the Philippines’ oldest collegiate league. During the 1990s, when government TV stations PTV-4 and IBC-13 covered the games, only the opening day and championship matches were aired in full, with highlights of the other games relegated to their newscasts.

It only got worse in 2000, when the championship matches pitting St. Benilde and Jose Rizal College were not aired. Then in 2001, despite the guarantee of PTV-4 and Media Conglomerates, Inc. to air most of the matches, the NCAA tournament was reduced to a mere 30-minute highlight show called ‘Inside NCAA’, with opening day and championship matches being aired live.

In 2002, the NCAA decided to join forces with ABS-CBN Sports, with the league’s games now being featured on a regular basis. But with the UAAP already a fixture on Studio 23 (now ABS-CBN Sports+Action), the NCAA was relegated to a weekday-exclusive schedule, with non-televised games on Mondays. Still, it was a marginal improvement from the PTV-MCI era.

Ten years later, the NCAA signed a deal with Sports5 to cover their games. Initially airing over IBC-13 (via AKTV), the league was forced to return to UHF television via AksyonTV once the AKTV deal expired. In addition, TV5 aired the championship matches, before receiving a select slate of elimination games this year. This time, however, all games were aired on the said network.

Still, circumstances related to national events continued to affect the television coverage of the NCAA. Examples include the funeral of the late Corazon Aquino in 2009, the recent State of the Nation Addresses, and the Janet Lim-Napoles Pork Barrel hearings in 2013, which either led to pre-emptions or delayed broadcasts of the games. And more recently, the impromptu DAP address of President Aquino led to an abrupt end of Sports5’s live NCAA coverage.

In the end, it is clear that the NCAA is at a disadvantage. While television coverage is gradually improving, it is still far from a finished product. What the league needs now at this point is flexibility, from the scheduling to the availability of the venue, in order to take advantage of live television, and to satisfy the demands of loyal fans.

NCAA management should start learning from these experiences. Otherwise, the league will continue to feel its fair share of shortcomings on television coverage.

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‘Kap’s Amazing Stories’ in a Crisis; ‘Ismol Family’ and ‘Marian’ Debuts

Senator Bong Revilla’s educational show ‘Kap’s Amazing Stories’ is now facing a crisis after the senator was accused of graft and plunder in relation to the PDAF scam.

After airing for several years, GMA’s educational program ‘Kap’s Amazing Stories’ is now facing a huge crisis. This is because the show’s host, Senator Bong Revilla, is currently being linked to the controversial Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam.

Just recently, Senator Revilla, along with fellow senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Jinggoy Estrada, PDAF mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles, and numerous other co-accused, were issued hold departure orders by the Sandiganbayan in relation to the scam. Senator Revilla, in a recent interview, has said that he will face the plunder and graft charges brought against him.

As Senator Revilla faces the prospect of arrest and jail time, the status of ‘Kap’s Amazing Stories’ has now become uncertain. Given that the show has been on the air for several years, and with numerous educational stories along the way, it will not be easy for the network to give up on ‘Kap’s Amazing Stories’.

But with Senator Revilla currently involved in a controversy of national interest, it is time for GMA to make a difficult decision. Either they replace ‘Kap’s Amazing Stories’ with a similar program for the sake of credibility, or keep the show, but with a new host, for the sake of loyalty. It is up to the braintrust of the Kapuso network to decide the show’s fate.

Meanwhile, ‘Ismol Family’ will make its debut on the said network this Sunday, replacing ‘Picture! Picture!’ on its timeslot. The new sitcom will star Ryan Agoncillo and Carla Abellana, with supporting roles from Carmi Martin, Mikael Daez, Mike ‘Pekto’ Nacua, Miguel Tanfelix, Kevin Santos, Bianca Umali, Marc Justine Alvarez, and Natalia Moon.

The series, directed by Dominic Zapata, will now be GMA’s third sitcom in its current lineup. The others are ‘Vampire ang Daddy Ko’ and ‘Pepito Manaloto’, both of which star preeminent comedians in Vic Sotto and Michael V.

And finally, ‘Marian’, the self-titled dance show hosted by Marian Rivera, premieres this Saturday after ‘Vampire ang Daddy Ko’. Marian’s first guests on the program will be Maricel Soriano and Vilma Santos, both of which had their own self-titled dance shows in the late 1980s.

Joining Marian on the show are Paolo Ballesteros, Christian Bautista, Mark Bautista, and Julie Anne San Jose. Louie Ignacio will direct the show.

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What’s Wrong with the NCAA on Sports5?

The 89th NCAA season in the Philippines recently concluded with De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde winning the overall seniors title, and San Beda College-Taytay winning the high school title. However, the season proved to be a dud in a broadcasting standpoint, and as NCAA’s television contract with Sports5 enters its final year, a lot of issues had to be resolved.

Scheduling Concerns on Seniors Basketball

Like in Season 88, Sports5 scheduled the elimination round games at 4 p.m. The eliminations were aired on AksyonTV after the dissolution of AKTV on IBC-13. However, during the playoffs, they were moved to a less favorable 12 p.m. slot to accommodate TV5’s loaded primetime programs.

Obviously, neither viewership nor attendance increased despite the move to primetime, and it became even worse when the games were moved to the less powerful AksyonTV. In addition, the decision to air the Final Four and Finals at 12 p.m. on TV5 caused a backlash; one particular Final Four doubleheader was affected by the Janet Lim-Napoles hearings, forcing the games to air only on AksyonTV. The early afternoon broadcasts of the Finals, like in the eliminations, did little to attract viewers.

It also didn’t help that the NCAA basketball season extended to November due to the FIBA Asia Championship and the typhoons that forced the postponement of games, thus leaving fans impatient.

Lack of Publicity

Last Thursday’s Cheerleading Competition at the Mall of Asia Arena was a prime example of Sports5’s lack of publicity with the league, with attendance figures sharply less than the consistent sellout crowds of the UAAP Cheerdance Competition at the said venue. The event, unlike its UAAP counterpart, was a non-factor in social media circles.

Sports5’s lack of promotion extends beyond the cheerleading competition. Women’s volleyball, already a centerpiece in the NCAA’s second semester, was given little to no attention by Sports5 due to the PBA, and as a result only a few games were aired at the unconventional 12 p.m. slot. Other events were also given only spot highlights during commercials.

Announcers’ Problems

As I have noted in a previous article, Sports5 announcers had the tendency to speak just before the commercial gaps end. This was none more evident than during the NCAA basketball finals, and the problems extended beyond the NCAA games.

If these announcers learn to cue themselves before the end of a commercial, then Sports5’s NCAA coverage would have been smoother and more consistent. But instead the announcers became impatient, and that ruined the viewers’ experience.

Outlook

The NCAA on Sports5 enters a contract year in Season 90, and through the first two years, coverage has not been good. With its contract expiring, Sports5 needs to improve on these aspects in hopes of extending its deal with the league, otherwise the NCAA may begin considering a new partner for Season 91.

Good luck with that.

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Struggling and Controversial Celebrities on ‘Face the People’

The appearance of Freddie Aguilar on ‘Face the People’ set the table for more embattled celebrities to appear on the program in order to explain their issues. (Courtesy of TV5)

Several weeks ago, the appearance of embattled singer Freddie Aguilar on ‘Face the People’ caught the attention of many netizens. And while the program’s focus is on normal citizens settling their differences with the help of the audience, Aguilar’s appearance led to several other celebrities sitting down on ‘Face the People”s infamous ‘silya de konsensya’ (chair of conscience) to explain their issues.

Two weeks after Aguilar made his highly-anticipated appearance on ‘Face the People’, controversial lawyer Atty. Lorna Kapunan sat down to explain the reason behind her withdrawal of legal support from Pork Barrel whistleblower Janet Lim-Napoles. Throughout the episode NBN-ZTE scam whistleblower Jun Lozada and activist Krissy Conti provided explanation on why Kapunan should have not left Napoles, while Atty. Ferdinand Topacio defended Kapunan’s decision to withdraw. The audience eventually agreed on Kapunan’s decision to withdraw.

And last Friday, diminutive actress Mahal sat down to explain her thoughts on quitting showbiz. The rumors stemmed from an argument between her and Kissybabes members Kisses Castillano and Em-Em Basa, saying that Mahal is ‘too old and obsolescent’ to be an artist and that her face is only good for Halloween. During the episode both Kissybabes members and talent manager Jethro Carrey tried to explain why Mahal was not given a chance to shine, while Mahal’s best friend Julie Ann defended her attempt to come back. In the end, the audience convinced Mahal to give showbiz another shot.

Today’s episode of ‘Face the People’ will have Tiya Pusit sitting on the ‘silya de konsensya’. Like Freddie Aguilar’s appearance a few weeks ago, Tiya Pusit will try to explain her relationship with a younger person. This time her beau would be a 27-year-old man named Nathan Villa. Throughout the episode fellow actress and friend Vangie Labalan will appear to oppose her friend’s relationship, while gay comedian Inday Garutay come in to defend.

The celebrity appearances on ‘Face the People’ gave the program a new wrinkle. While it is primarily used to settle issues between ordinary people, the program now encourages celebrity appearances in order to provide a deeper and more contentious insight on the issues surrounding them. It may be a harsher route, but ‘Face the People”s concept really helps in building drama behind these issues.

Expect more celebrities to appear on ‘Face the People’, even if they only come once a week. Unlike ‘Startalk‘ and ‘Buzz ng Bayan’, this program is always willing to push the boundaries, regardless of how harsh it can be. And its tabloid-based approach always helps.

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TV Coverage of Napoles Testimony

Janet Lim-Napoles appeared before the Senate today to testify regarding the Pork Barrel scandal. The much-anticipated testimony was covered by most free TV outlets. However, in an apparent deference, ABS-CBN’s free TV channel 2 and Studio 23 opted not to cover the event in full. Instead they only gave updates and partial live feeds on the ongoing testimony. Also, both AksyonTV and TV5 opted to end their coverage by 12:00 p.m. in order to air the NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four.

Give every network credit for pooling their resources in order to bring ongoing updates and live coverage on the Napoles testimony. However, I have to criticize both ABS-CBN and TV5 for a variety of reasons. ABS-CBN, for its part, decided to air the entirety of the Napoles testimony exclusively on its cable networks DZMM TeleRadyo and ABS-CBN News Channel. And while they did air a snippet of the live coverage on Channel 2, it is simply not enough. They may have a high number of cable subscribers on its affiliate SkyCable, but they did not oblige to the most important commodity in television viewership: the masses.

TV5, for its part, ended their coverage to give way to the NCAA Final Four. Unfortunately, they covered the entire tournament on both TV5 and AksyonTV when in fact, they only need to air it on TV5 and defer the Napoles coverage to AksyonTV. For some reason AksyonTV wanted to simulcast the NCAA tournament as a ‘test broadcast’ in an effort to improve its signal and reach, something they have also done in the recently concluded PBA Governors’ Cup Finals. But on this day, AksyonTV failed to be the 24-hour news channel that viewers hoped, and their non-airing of Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago‘s press conference following the testimony was an insult to the network.

As for GMA News TV, they were able to commit in full to the testimony, even if they have incurred several no-shows in the past. They realized the importance of this issue, and I have to commend them for a job well done. Despite their reputation as a non-24 hour news channel, and their emphasis on tabloid-like reporting, they were able to give way to something national in scope, at least for today.

With the entire nation watching, Janet Lim-Napoles is now thrust in the spotlight, in what has been the most controversial scandal that rocked the government since the plunder case of President Joseph Estrada. And television networks are taking notice.

ERRATUM: TV5 continued to air the Napoles testimony and deferred to AksyonTV for the live NCAA Final Four coverage. Still, it would have been better if TV5 pushed through with the NCAA coverage and gave the Napoles coverage to AksyonTV instead.

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