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Around the Mediaverse: ARC, TAG Sign Off; Rappler Stripped of Registration

More sad news in Philippine cable television.

At midnight of January 15, the ABS-CBN Regional Channel and TAG permanently signed off the air. According to Creative Programs Inc., they cite a ‘change in business direction’ for the closure of the two channels.

The ARC was launched on August 1, 2016 in another attempt to make ABS-CBN Regional programs available outside its respective regional footprint. However, like the Sarimanok Channel (now the ABS-CBN News Channel), ARC was beset by various problems from the start and its inability to gain support from the mother network eventually led to its downfall.

Two months later, on October 19, TAG signed on, showing Tagalized foreign films. However, it also endured its fair share of problems, the most obvious of which is redundancy due to the fact that the films shown in the channel are also aired on sister channels such as ABS-CBN, CineMo, Cinema One and Yey!.

CPI will also end broadcast of the anime channel Hero on January 31. More on that in a future article.

Rappler Registration Revoked

Later that afternoon, some breaking news involving a rising media outlet shook the world of journalism. The Securities and Exchange Commission announced that it revoked its registration of Rappler due to an alleged violation of a rule regarding foreign ownership of media companies.

The SEC claimed that Rappler is being controlled by the Omidyar Network, a fund created by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar. Rappler denied this statement, saying that the company is ‘100% Filipino-owned’ and that Omidyar is only an investor.

Rappler’s reported revocation of its registration was vehemently criticized by the likes of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility and the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines, saying that it violated the rights of freedom of speech and the press. Malacañang denied these claims, saying Rappler violated constitutional rules and that it has nothing to do with President Rodrigo Duterte’s criticism of the outlet.

This said rule regarding the ban on foreign ownership of media companies has been in place since the 1970s. It can be recalled that GMA Network owner Robert ‘Uncle Bob’ Stewart sold the company to Felipe Gozon, Gilberto Duavit and Menardo Jimenez due to said rule, and MPB Primedia was also forced to sell its share of TV5 to Manny V. Pangilinan.

Despite its revocation, Rappler said it will continue to operate and will exhaust all legal efforts in order to reconsider SEC’s decision. Good luck with that.

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action, drama, entertainment, Philippines, television

Cignal Steps In for Incapable TV5

The lack of an entertainment division on TV5 has forced its affiliates to pick up the slack.

Satellite subscription service Cignal recently launched its entertainment division, with the intent towards distributing content to its online and satellite television platforms. The newly-launched Cignal Entertainment will kick things off with the mini-series ‘Tukhang’.

The two-episode pilot will air July 22 on Colours and Sari-Sari Channel. It will star James Blanco, Karel Marquez, Mon Confiado, Jake Macapagal, Janna Victoria, Butch Francisco, Yul Servo, Archi Adamos, Jerould Aceron and Zandra Summer.

Cignal Entertainment will also have a few other offerings in store for its subscribers. They are:

Born Beautiful – The sequel to the critically-acclaimed movie ‘Die Beautiful’, it will star Christian Bables as Barbs. The story will pick up from the time Trisha (Paolo Ballesteros) died.

The Orbiters – This original series will star Cedrick Juan, Malak So, Bob Jbeili and Victor Anastacio. It will be directed by Miko Livelo and Dominic Lim.

Sleepless – Another independent film that is being transformed into a television series, it will star Albie Casino, Mara Lopez, Trina Legaspi, Acey Aguilar, Shaira Mae and Martin Escudero. Directed by Prime Cruz.

Feels Like Forever – An original series that focuses on love and other things that can happen in 24 hours. It will be directed by Sigrid Andrea P. Bernardo and Ivan Payawal.

With the exception of ‘Tukhang’, all of Cignal Entertainment’s upcoming series will be produced by The IdeaFirst Company. The company’s president, Perci Intalan, is a former entertainment head at TV5.

The only way to go is up, and as TV5 focuses more on sports, news and imported entertainment shows, Cignal makes sure that the entertainment aspect within the MVP Group will not go down quietly. The division is still young, but with the help of independent producers such as IdeaFirst, all the hard work should be worth it.

Now let’s just hope that the new Cignal Entertainment will not fall from grace the same way TV5’s entertainment division did. This is a prime opportunity for Manny V. Pangilinan to bounce back, so make it count.

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anime, entertainment, Philippines, television

In 100 Words: TV5 AniMEGA Goes Primetime

TV5’s AniMEGA block is going primetime.

This was recently confirmed by the TV5 AniMEGA Facebook page, posting this short statement that brought some excitement to anime fans in the country. Soon after, they announced that Dreamworks’ ‘Voltron: Legendary Defender’ will be the first AniMEGA show to move to primetime effective March 20.

It can be recalled that during the Ka-Shake era from 2008-10, TV5’s AniMEGA block was aired on primetime opposite ABS-CBN and GMA’s teleseryes. While the response was enthusiastic, the block was eliminated as part of new owner Manny V. Pangilinan’s futile quest to go head-on with both ABS-CBN and GMA.

Now that wounds were mended between TV5 and its legion of anime fans, one can only hope that AniMEGA on primetime will be here to stay. It will be interesting how this experiment will turn out the second time around, so good luck.

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entertainment, news, Philippines, politics, public affairs, television

TV5 Dismisses About 100 Employees as Part of Restructuring Efforts

TV5's termination of around 100 employees is the latest in a series of problems that surround the network. (Photo credit: TV5)

TV5’s termination of around 100 employees is the latest in a series of problems that surround the network. (Photo credit: TV5)

TV5’s housecleaning under Chot Reyes continues.

This past week, reliable sources reported that about 100 employees of the network were dismissed as part of a major restructuring effort. These include some of TV5’s producers, cameramen, engineering crew, reporters and other talents.

They were, according to sources, fired via a text message, and were given pink slips by the human resources team. Furthermore, a second wave of layoffs awaits more employees starting this week.

TV5 President and CEO Chot Reyes addressed the news in a memo obtained by MediaNewser.com:

Despite operating at a financial loss for the past years, the company has exerted all efforts to minimize the effects of the organizational restructuring on our people. As a result of an extensive study, it has become evident that some jobs and skills will no longer be required by the company, while some other positions are deemed overmanned.

In response to Chot Reyes’ address, the TV5 Employees Union posted their own statement regarding the network’s latest move:

TV5’s termination of around 100 employees is the latest in the ongoing saga surrounding the Kapatid network. Within the last half-year, TV5 made some cost-cutting moves in hopes of fulfilling MVP’s ‘break even by 2017’ promise, such as the controversial decision to allocate more hours to TV shopping blocks, and the dissolution of the entertainment department.

Despite these changes in strategy, it is clear that TV5 is going nowhere with the product they are promoting at this point. As much as the network wants to promise something new to their viewers each and every time, they can no longer afford to do so due to the irreversible damage that they are enduring.

That said, Manny V. Pangilinan’s promise of ‘breaking even’ this year appears to be in vain. And to make matters worse, he has no choice but to settle the matter with the terminated employees, who demand compensation to make up for their unjust dismissal.

The year 2017 is off to a so-so start for TV5. While they are trying their best to once again rebuild their overall operations, this latest issue only shows that they are once again making fools out of themselves.

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Philippines, Sports, television

PBA Expected to Remain on TV5 Due to Short Offseason

Barangay Ginebra's victory in the 2016 PBA Governors' Cup would have marked the end of a five-year relationship between the league and TV5, but a short offseason changes things. (Photo credit: The Philippine Star)

Barangay Ginebra’s victory in the 2016 PBA Governors’ Cup would have marked the end of a five-year relationship between the league and TV5, but a short offseason could change all that. (Photo credit: The Philippine Star)

The shorter-than-expected offseason could keep the PBA within TV5’s hands.

The 2015-16 season came to an end Wednesday night, when Barangay Ginebra San Miguel broke an eight-year title drought by winning the season-ending Governors’ Cup title over the Meralco Bolts. Game 6 of the Governors’ Cup Finals would have marked the end of a five-year contract that TV5 signed with the PBA back in 2011.

Instead, another year of coverage looms in the seemingly fruitful relationship between the PBA and the Manny V. Pangilinan-owned network.

Two weeks from now, the 2016 PBA Rookie Draft will take place at the Robinsons Place Manila. The draft will be conducted in two batches: a regular draft for early entry applicants, and a special draft for amateur players who were invited to the Gilas pool.

Then on November 20, the season-opening Philippine Cup will get underway. Thus, it will be a very short offseason for the PBA, owing to a long break from late May to mid-July due to the FIBA Olympic Qualifiers that Gilas participated.

With a short turnaround from last season, it is expected that TV5 will remain the main home of the PBA. And there are three reasons why the league could still air on the MVP-owned network, which are:

  1. The PBA Rush channel, which was only established prior to last season’s Governors’ Cup.
  2. The lack of other network options due to a variety of circumstances.
  3. The promotion of Chot Reyes to the role of head honcho within TV5.

With all these situations coming into play, it is clear that the PBA has no other choice. Despite the past issues that the league faced during its initial five-year tenure with TV5, the latter’s progressive steps to improve its coverage indicate that the relationship is an otherwise successful one, contrary to the critics’ perceptions.

One month from now, a new season of the PBA begins. Unfortunately for the league, there is not much time to plan, so it’s safe to say that next year, it will be TV5 who will once again bring the PBA to every television set in the country, for now.

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online, television, video on demand, VOD service

In 100 Words: iWant TV Now Available to Smart, PLDT Subscribers

ABS-CBN’s iWant TV video on demand service continues to grow.

Just recently, the Lopez-owned media giant joined forces with Manny V. Pangilinan’s PLDT and Smart Communications for a game-changing agreement. Beginning in October, PLDT and Smart subscribers can now watch ABS-CBN shows anytime and anywhere through the iWant TV service.

Shows that air on ABS-CBN and its sister channels (e.g. S+A, ABS-CBN News Channel, DZMM TeleRadyo) are readily available on iWant TV. However, not all shows are free to watch, as some will still require an assigned fee to access.

Regardless, this is just another step in the right direction for ABS-CBN. As the network’s push for a more digital approach continues, one must wonder how will its competitors respond with this move.

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