news, Philippines, politics, public affairs, television

Tulfo Brothers’ Departure Leaves Radyo5 in a Tight Spot

The crisis within News5 reached a new level last week.

A few weeks ago, brothers Erwin and Ben Tulfo, and Ed Lingao were engaged in a war of words in both social media and in their respective programs. To make the long story short, here is how the story began.

Erwin’s brother Ben then defended him against Ed Lingao on his ‘Bitag Live’ program last June 20, 2017. The said video was quickly uploaded on the ‘Bitag’ YouTube page, and Ed later responded to Ben’s comments on Facebook.

However, in light of a personal tragedy involving Ed Lingao, Ben and his staff elected to remove the video. After that, Ben issued a public apology on social media.

Nevertheless, News5 management, led by Luchi Cruz-Valdes, were disappointed with the situation. On Friday, June 30, they posted this official statement condemning the controversy between the Tulfo brothers and Ed Lingao.

But by the time TV5 issued this statement, the damage has been done. On Thursday, June 29, Erwin announced his departure from Radyo5, and several hours later, brother Ben also called it quits.

While Ben quickly moved ‘Bitag Live’ to PTV-4, as of today, Erwin has yet to announce a new station of his own. Nevertheless, Erwin continues to appear alongside his brother and Alex Santos on ‘Kilos Pronto’, in addition to a Facebook-only broadcast called ‘Erwin Tulfo Live’.

As for Radyo5 92.3 News FM, they made some changes to their programming lineup in light of the departure of Ben and Erwin. The departed ‘Bitag Live’ was replaced by ‘Aksyon Solusyon’ which was then extended to two hours, while ‘Punto Asintado’ is now being handled by substitute anchors.

Unfortunately for Miguel Belmonte, the programming changes did little to mitigate this crisis. Radyo5 is already thin on talent, and with the Tulfo brothers (save for Raffy who remains under contract) now gone, the situation only got worse.

In fact, host Alex Tinsay cannot do it alone. While he is the regular host of ‘Aksyon Solusyon’, he has also pinched-hit for the Tulfo brothers in their programs, but with Ben and Erwin no longer in the fold, the challenge even got trickier.

So much so that Menchie Silvestre (host of ‘Alagang Kapatid’) and Niña Taduran (Raffy’s co-host on ‘Wanted sa Radyo’) are penciled in to take over ‘Aksyon Solusyon’ on the interim. But if Radyo5 were smart, there are others hosts who can fill in the void.

Take Cheryl Cosim for example. The host of ‘Serbisyong Kapatid’ and ‘Healthline with Cheryl Cosim’ has also hosted ‘Punto Asintado’ in the past, and with her current two programs in the same mold as ‘Aksyon Solusyon’, Radyo5 should consider giving her a slot on either program.

Maricel Halili, the host of ‘Iba Yung Pinoy’, is another option, having pinched-hit on ‘Punto Asintado’ on a few occasions. So is Lourd de Veyra, another occasional pinch-hitter on the show.

Ed Lingao, who has rarely, if not never, worked on radio, could also be a viable option, provided that he is allowed to return. Or they could welcome back the now-former DOTR spokesperson Cherie Mercado and revive ‘Trabaho Lang’ as a morning program, if she is allowed more time with her family.

Overall, Miguel Belmonte has plenty of tricks up his sleeve, but it will be up to him to deliver the goods. This is now a litmus test for Radyo5 92.3 News FM, so let’s see how will they play this out.

Otherwise they can just reformat into an easy listening station ala 96.3 Easy Rock. Simple as that.

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news, Philippines, television

A Look Back at News Coverage of the Resorts World Manila Attack

Friday’s incident at Resorts World Manila was headline news for journalists throughout the country. (Photo credit: ABS-CBN News)

Tragedy strikes on the first Friday of June.

On June 2, 2017, gunshots and fire broke out at the Resorts World Manila in Pasay City. When it was all said and done, 37 people were found dead through suffocation, and the gunman, later identified as former Department of Finance employee Jessie Carlos, shot and immolated himself to death.

Here is how the country’s major news outfits fare with the coverage of the incident.

ABS-CBN News Channel and DZMM TeleRadyo

The burden of ABS-CBN News’ coverage was shared between DZMM TeleRadyo and the ABS-CBN News Channel. Both networks went on breaking news mode the moment the attack at Resorts World Manila struck.

ANC and DZMM continued to provide updates of the tragedy over the next 24 hours, with the former somehow eschewing its regular programs in favor of the generic ‘ANC Live’ brand beginning at 11:30 a.m. DZMM continued to air its regular programs but on occasion it gave way to special coverage of the said incident.

GMA News TV

GMA News TV’s coverage began through its simulcast of DZBB shows ‘Saksi sa Dobol B’, ‘Sino?’ and ‘Dobol A sa Dobol B’. Their marathon continued through ‘News to Go’ and ‘Balitanghali’.

The network essentially preempted all regular programming in favor of TV shopping blocks for much of the afternoon. In between, newscasts such as ‘Quick Response Team’, ‘Balita Pilipinas’ and ‘State of the Nation’ continued to update on the situation.

CNN Philippines

While CNN Philippines is a 24/7 station (at least for cable and satellite subscribers), the network’s coverage at Resorts World Manila did not begin until 6:00 a.m. once ‘New Day’ kicked in. From that point on, CNN Philippines went on three different phases.

First, the network’s early morning coverage was aired in English, followed by a Filipino language marathon of the incident during the late morning through early afternoon. After that, English language coverage resumed all the way till the deep part of the evening, with some regular programming in between.

News5

Unfortunately, Luchi Cruz-Valdes’ outfit failed to deliver when it mattered most. Although Radyo5 92.3 FM (and by extension AksyonTV) provided some breaking news on the Resorts World Manila tragedy, the networks continued to air regular programming as if nothing had happened.

Even the ‘Aksyon’ newscasts on TV5 had a bad outing as well. Considering that the newscasts only have at least an hour of airtime (not to mention Raffy Tulfo’s penchant to do some extracurricular activities not related to news), it is clear that LCV and company have too little to offer with a meager cast and limited time.

The next two days saw further updates of the Resorts World Manila tragedy, but other than that, it was all back to normal programming. Additional press conferences at the Resorts World Manila, including the revelation of the gunman’s name, were a few highlights of the weekend.

Overall, it was a field day for major news networks in the country. But while Ging Reyes, Marissa Flores and Armie Jarin-Bennett have done a pretty good job putting all the work in dealing with the Resorts World Manila tragedy, the same cannot be said for Luchi Cruz-Valdes, and it’s a shame.

When tragedy strikes, somebody must take action. And in times like this, news networks and other related organizations should be first on the scene to deliver the news and bring up-to-date reports to everyone.

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FTT Year 2016 in Review: The 20 Stories That Define the Year in Media (Part II)

Another year is about to end. But before the calendar flips to 2017, here is a look back at the year that was in television and radio. This article looks back at the 20 moments that define the Philippine media this year.

If you missed out on Part I of this series, click on the highlighted link for more information.

Here is Part II of the four-part series. These stories are arranged in no particular order.

The End of Kris TV

‘Kris TV’ had been an early morning staple for nearly five years. With Kris Aquino at the helm, ‘Kris TV’ became one of the most enduring talk shows of the decade, and despite all the criticisms and low ratings thrown at them, ABS-CBN kept the faith on both Kris and the show itself.

But on March 23, Kris Aquino made a stunning announcement that she will officially bid farewell due to her recent health issues. As it turned out, this was ‘Kris TV”s last original episode, with the show continuing to air reruns until April 15, before it was replaced by ‘Magandang Buhay’.

Since then, Kris appeared as a guest on rival GMA talk show ‘Yan ang Morning’, and was scheduled to interview President Rodrigo Duterte in November until the latter no-showed due to illness.

News5 Loses Men to Duterte

Speaking of President Duterte, his cabinet featured a select number of former News5 anchors and reporters. This included PCOO chief Martin Andanar, DOT spokesperson Cherie Mercado, and assistant secretary for media relations Mia Reyes.

With the departure of numerous on-air staff, News5 was forced to implement new measures such as solo anchors on select ‘Aksyon’ newscasts. Unfortunately, it did not mitigate the damage that News5 endured this year, so much so that its head Luchi Cruz-Valdes even contemplated on relinquishing her post in favor of a cabinet position, a rumor that was eventually quashed.

However, this was not the only problem that TV5 faced this year.

Dissolution of TV5’s Entertainment Department

Late last year, TV5 reached out to VIVA Entertainment head Vic del Rosario to reinvigorate its entertainment division. The end result of this collaboration included shows such as ‘Ang Panday’, ‘Bakit Manipis ang Ulap’, ‘Born to Be a Star’ and ‘Tasya Fantasya’.

Unfortunately, none of VIVA’s shows clicked, with questionable scheduling and low ratings to blame for the issues. As a result, new TV5 head Chot Reyes had no choice but to start over, dissolving TV5’s entertainment division, and cutting ties with VIVA in September.

For now, TV5 airs TV shopping blocks, Tagalized canned programs and movies, News5 shows and the PBA, while waiting for Chot Reyes to renovate the station from within.

The Rebirth of CNN Philippines

Last year, CNN Philippines was heavily criticized for its revolving door of anchors, a penchant for airing HLN and CNN International shows, and a lack of commitment towards breaking news. Enter Armie Jarin-Bennett, a CNN International veteran who decided to give CNN Philippines an extreme makeover.

Within a year since her entry, CNN Philippines transformed itself into a force in the world of journalism almost overnight. New locally flavored shows were introduced, and newly-hired hosts and anchors such as Pinky Webb, Ruth Cabal, Andrei Felix and Anthony Pangilinan were brought in.

The end result is a positively-reviewed news organization which now strives to tell the story of the Filipino, as evidenced by the network’s highly-praised coverage of the vice presidential debates.

PTV-4’s Revitalization and IBC-13’s Sale, as Promised by President Duterte

Upon assuming office on June 30, President Rodrigo Duterte promised sweeping changes for the country. None was more evident than in the two networks that are owned by the government: PTV-4 and IBC-13.

President Duterte’s plan for PTV-4 is to become a public service network in the mold of the PBS in the U.S. and the BBC in the U.K. As for IBC-13, his objective is to sell the network to private investors for P10 billion, with the eye towards revitalizing its seemingly moribund programming.

While the proposals will take some time, one can only hope that the two networks will soon return to form as the country’s respective government and general entertainment station.

Part III of this four-part series is coming up this Thursday. Stay tuned.

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The End of NU 107 and the Birth of Radyo5 92.3 News FM, Six Years Later

Two Philippine FM radio milestones took place six years ago this week.

The night of November 7, 2010 will forever be remembered by Pinoy rock fans throughout the country, as NU 107 officially signed off for the last time. Many will reminisce its final moments on the air, during which the Eraserheads’ ‘Ang Huling El Bimbo’ was played while listeners raised their lighters outside the NU 107 studios in Pasig.

The following morning, a different radio station took the place of NU 107. 107.5 Win Radio, a brainchild of Manny Luzon, officially made its debut, and its ‘masa’-oriented format was reminiscent of Luzon’s other creation, 90.7 Love Radio.

While Win Radio proved to be popular in its own right, the vacuum left by the demise of NU 107 seemed irreparable. Attempts to revive NU’s tried and tested format online proved futile, and although Jam 88.3 moved to an NU 107-like rock format a few months later, the loss of a beloved and iconic station was hard to overcome.

Today, 107.5 is currently occupied by the adult contemporary-oriented Wish 1075, while Win Radio moved over to 91.5 to merge with former sister station Big Radio. As for the legacy of NU 107, it remains to be seen if Jam 88.3 can equal or surpass the heights that NU reached.

Also on November 8, 2010, another up-and-coming radio station made its debut. TV5-owned Radyo5 92.3 News FM, the first all-news FM radio station in the country, aired its initial broadcast, replacing the youth-oriented CHR station U92.

From day one, Radyo5 92.3 News FM constantly ranked among Metro Manila’s top FM radio stations. It even provided a serious challenge to AM radio giants Super Radyo DZBB 594, DZMM Radyo Patrol 630, and DZRH 666 as far as listenership is concerned.

Unfortunately, the station endured some rough sailing in the years since. The addition of live PBA coverage, the loss of several top-notch talent, the inability to replace and fill vacated timeslots, and the unwillingness to cover important live events severely tested Radyo5’s viability.

With TV5 encountering its fair share of problems, the future of Radyo5 92.3 News FM is now in doubt. It will be up to embattled bosses Gladys Lana-Lucas and Luchi Cruz-Valdes to save the station from further collapse.

Six years after these two significant events on Philippine radio, both NU 107 and Radyo5 92.3 News FM are still remembered by radio listeners all over the country, for contrasting reasons. For one station, it was about making a mark in the industry, while the other was about making a statement in the music-dominated field of FM radio.

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TV5 Must Revamp Primetime Lineup

Odd one out: For TV5 to become truly alternative anew, they need to retire 'Aksyon Prime' for good and go with 'Aksyon Tonite' as their lone evening newscast. (Logo courtesy of TV5)

Odd one out: TV5’s primetime revamp may require ‘Aksyon Prime’ to merge with ‘Aksyon Tonite’. (Logo courtesy of TV5)

It is clear that TV5’s primetime lineup is going nowhere.

Questions abound the said lineup once Chot Reyes made it clear that he envisioned a more ‘alternative’ approach for the network. For instance, ‘Aksyon Prime’ and ‘Aksyon Tonite’ now seem out of place in Chot’s new approach, due to its ‘masa’-fied format and competition with ABS-CBN and GMA newscasts.

To make matters worse, ‘Aksyon Tonite’ recently added unproven journos in Lia Cruz and Marga Vargas, both of whom seem more suited to sports than news. And finally, PBA’s overall poor showing last season leave a lot to be desired.

With all problems considered, here is a to-do list that TV5 must do to revamp its primetime lineup.

1. Merge and Reformat Aksyon Prime and Aksyon Tonite

Two evening newscasts were too much for News5, considering the plight it endured of late. Thus, merging both ‘Aksyon Prime’ and ‘Aksyon Tonite’ into one nightly newscast is a necessity.

If that’s not enough, this merged newscast will employ a more hard news approach, and will air at 9:00 p.m. Hence, it will compete against CNN Philippines’ ‘Newsroom’, GMA News TV’s ‘State of the Nation’, ANC’s ‘The World Tonight’, and other similar newscasts.

As for the anchors and title, look no further. The newscast will carry the ‘Aksyon Tonite’ name, and Ed Lingao and Luchi Cruz-Valdes will be the anchors.

2. Replace Aksyon Prime with Sports360

The PBA games are a regular fixture on TV5 during weeknights, but the presence of ‘Aksyon Prime’ became a bane to viewers and game attendants. Placing ‘Sports360’ instead should alleviate this burden.

The format of ‘Sports360’ will remain the same. It will air for 15 minutes, and will focus mostly on viewer interaction and game analysis.

3. Foreign Canned Shows from 6 to 9 on Non-PBA Game Days

Finally, 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on a non-PBA game day will be dominated by TV5’s American action, suspense and fantasy shows. Doesn’t get more alternative than this.

Chot Reyes’ vision of a more ‘alternative’ TV5 may take time getting used to. But as far as the primetime lineup goes, solving this dilemma should be the first step, provided that management is smart enough to realize its flaws.

However, it doesn’t mean that this proposal will be achieved. Still, one can only hope that Chot Reyes will make the soundest of decisions in order to restore TV5’s fortunes, even if it means no more local entertainment fare.

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