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FTT Year 2017 in Review: The Hot or Not Stories That Define the Year in Media (Part II)

Another year is about to end. But before the calendar flips to 2018, here is a look back at the year that was in television and radio. This article looks back at some of the Hot or Not 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.

HOT: Ben and Erwin Tulfo

The two Tulfo brothers began the year as hosts of their respective programs (Ben for ‘Bitag Live’, Erwin for ‘Punto Asintado’) on Radyo5 92.3 News FM. But after a highly-publicized feud with journalist Ed Lingao last June, Ben and Erwin elected to quit their jobs with Radyo5 and move over to PTV-4 (where they host ‘Kilos Pronto’ with Alex Santos) and Radyo Pilipinas full-time.

While Ben moved ‘Bitag Live’ to join its sister programs over to PTV-4, Erwin returned to newscasting with ‘Radyo Pilipinas Nationwide’ and ‘PTV News’ where he is joined by Weng dela Peña and Diane Querrer respectively. Erwin also brought his ‘Erwin Tulfo Live’ over to Radyo Pilipinas and started a talk show with President Rodrigo Duterte called ‘Sa Totoo Lang’.

NOT: Raffy Tulfo

Meanwhile, the lone remaining Tulfo on TV5 continued to butcher the already damaged reputation of its news division by changing the format anew of ‘Aksyon sa Tanghali’. As a result, the erstwhile newscast became a full-on television counterpart to Raffy’s radio program ‘Wanted sa Radyo’ by emphasizing more on citizen complaints than actual news reports.

Notwithstanding the recent addition of Marga Vargas as co-anchor, it was clear that having Raffy on ‘Aksyon sa Tanghali’ is doing more harm than good to News5’s morale. Perhaps the departure of his brothers plus News5’s decline in quality may have taken its toll on Raffy, and giving him the walking papers may be inevitable.

HOT: DZMM TeleRadyo and Dobol B sa News TV

In April, a new-look DZMM TeleRadyo was unveiled to a nationwide audience, featuring an improved visual presentation and a new set for ‘Sakto’, ‘Good Vibes’, ‘On the Spot’ and ‘Todo-Todo Walang Preno’. They also added a selection of ABS-CBN News programs and two newscasts to the lineup in ‘Headline Pilipinas’ and an ‘early edition’ of ‘Bandila’.

Not to be outdone, rival Super Radyo DZBB 594 returned to television via ‘Dobol B sa News TV’ after a four-year hiatus. The station also started to cross over to social media by airing select programs live on Facebook, much like DZMM does on occasion.

NOT: News5 in General

The self-destruction of News5 continued throughout the year. Not only did the network lose Ben and Erwin Tulfo among other talents, they also cancelled ‘Aksyon sa Umaga’ and shortened ‘Aksyon Tonite’ in favor of sports programming from ESPN5.

It also didn’t help that its leader Luchi Cruz-Valdes disappeared from radio and television altogether due to health concerns. Overall, the future does not look bright for News5 and the inevitability of dissolution draws even closer as each day passes.

HOT: 97.9 Home Radio

Call it a rebirth as the ‘old’ 97.9 Home Radio returned to the airwaves last July. Gone is the Top 40 style of previous years, and to the delight of its loyal listeners, Home Radio resurrected its familiar ‘easy listening’ format.

The reformat of Home Radio back to its roots should give 96.3 Easy Rock a run for its money. After all, with Easy Rock offering a bland Love Radio-like approach, a more diverse playlist is more than enough for listeners to switch to Home Radio instead.

NOT: 90.7 Love Radio

They may continue to boast that they were the No. 1 radio station in Metro Manila for nearly (self-proclaimed) two decades now, but the grip is slipping for 90.7 Love Radio. The loss of Papa Jack (now 106.7 Energy FM’s Papa Jackson) became too large of a hole to fill, and despite having the talented duo of Chris Tsuper and Nicole Hyala, this year overall is not a good one for Love Radio.

Getting surpassed by MOR 101.9 in the ratings is insult to injury to Love Radio’s psyche. And if that is not enough, Lloyd Cafe Cadena is no Papa Jackson, which is hard to accept for any listener of the said station.

HOT: FM1 and FM2

The two FM stations under the PCOO umbrella officially signed on this year: 104.3 FM2 in February and 87.5 FM1 in November. Within months, FM2 became the top-rated FM radio station among the upscale listening public thanks in large part to their diverse format featuring classic songs from the 70s up to the 90s.

As for FM1, the station is currently in test broadcast and is expected to launch early next year. Unlike FM2, FM1 will focus on the younger demographic with a format consisting of music from the 2000s onwards, which should give established stations like Magic 89.9 and Monster RX 93.1 a run for their money.

NOT: Retro 105.9

The original ‘retro’ FM radio station in Metro Manila faced new competition in the form of FM2 this year. Initially, Retro 105.9 was the top FM radio station among Metro Manila’s upscale listeners, but a surge from FM2 ended their reign.

Making matters worse is Retro 105.9’s latest rebrand that took place in November, dismissing almost all of its on-air staff in favor of a mostly automated approach. With FM2 imposing its will on the upscale market, it seems like the days of Retro 105.9 as the source of anything ‘retro’ music is being numbered by the day.

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

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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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Three’s a Crowd: Aksyon Tonite Becomes a Three-Anchor Team

Looks like the solo anchor setup on ‘Aksyon’ newscasts is not working for News5.

Last Monday, News5 decided to once again revamp ‘Aksyon Tonite’, adding erstwhile weather reporters Lia Cruz and Marga Vargas to the newscast alongside Ed Lingao. Both Lia and Marga were intended to be ‘anchors in training’ as far as News5 is concerned.

This marked the first time that ‘Aksyon Tonite’ went with a three-anchor setup. Past lineups of the newscast featured either a two-anchor setup (Paolo Bediones/Ed Lingao and Cheryl Cosim) or a solo anchor setup (Ed Lingao).

The reaction to the move was mostly negative. They argued that Lia and Marga were the latest in a line of ‘entertainers masquerading as journalists’ (EMAJ), as the two lacked any journalistic background owing to their past experience as sports reporters (Lia for Solar Sports, Marga for ABC-5).

While Lia and Marga’s addition to ‘Aksyon Tonite’ serves to develop the two into well-rounded journalists, it is clear that News5 is once again dooming themselves with these questionable moves. A rundown of other late primetime newscasts on major privately-owned networks should show the foolishness of News5’s decision.

  • Bandila (ABS-CBN) – Julius Babao, Karen Davila, Ces Drilon
  • Saksi (GMA) – Pia Arcangel, Arnold Clavio
  • Newsroom (CNN Philippines) – Mitzi Borromeo
  • State of the Nation (GMA News TV) – Jessica Soho
  • Eagle News International (Net 25) – Alma Angeles, Sam Cepeda
  • Why News (UNTV News and Rescue) – Gerry Alcantara, Darlene Basingan, Diego Castro III
  • The World Tonight (ANC) – Tina Monzon-Palma

The list above shows that all listed anchors are indeed legitimate journalists. Too bad for News5 and its head Luchi Cruz-Valdes.

Going down the EMAJ route just to revamp ‘Aksyon Tonite’ should serve as a way to destroy its once-credible aura. When the newscast was anchored by Cheryl Cosim and Ed Lingao, many praised it for its emphasis on hard news, which helped restore its credibility that was lost during Paolo Bediones’ time.

Now that they promoted Lia Cruz and Marga Vargas to serve alongside Ed Lingao, expect that praise to turn against ‘Aksyon Tonite’. They may be added just to gain experience, but unless they grow and learn quickly, they might become the next Menchu Macapagal or Hillary Isaac.

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News5 Needs a Revamp (Part I)

The problems surrounding TV5 has also spread to the news department.

Within two months, News5 lost two of its regular anchors to the government of President Rodrigo Duterte. In early June, Martin Andanar was appointed secretary of the Presidential Communication and Operations Office, then just recently, Cherie Mercado accepted the post of spokesperson by the Department of Transportation.

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The task given to me by President Rody Duterte, to bring our government media agencies back to its good old glory days, is colossal. This requires a clear vision, 100% dedication, extraordinary capacity, political will and the grit to fight inefficiencies caused by corruption. Difficult as it may be, I wholeheartedly accepted the challenge to serve our 16th President and our Country. Now, I'm in the process of hiring the best, the brightest and the boldest. My friends, I ask for your fervent prayers and support because the road ahead will be long and rough. Thank you President Digong for the full trust and confidence. It is truly an honor to be in your cabinet. Like what President Digong always says again and again, "STOP". Yes I will do everything to STOP corruption at the Presidential Communication and Operations Office. That's my commitment. #DU30 #Stop #ChangeIsComing

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Martin had been the face of News5 for many years, having served as an anchor and executive, as well as the voice of Radyo5 92.3 News FM. On the other hand, Cherie was a holdover from ABC 5 during the ownership of Tonyboy Cojuangco, having been employed by the network for over a decade.

Ironically, their departures were felt by the Tulfo brothers themselves. Since Martin’s departure, Erwin Tulfo has become the sole host of his Radyo5 program ‘Punto Asintado’, while brother Raffy remained the lone anchor of ‘Aksyon sa Tanghali’ following Cherie’s departure (though at times he was paired with usual weather reporter Marga Vargas).

In addition, Cherie’s radio program ‘Trabaho Lang’ was cancelled following her resignation. That said, it was clear to News5 that their decision to leave for the government is a bitter pill to swallow.

But their departures are not the only reason why News5 is at an all-time low. Programming, content and questionable personnel decisions have become the Achilles’ heel of the division for a long time, and it dragged TV5 further down once they underwent a total housecleaning.

For instance, ‘Aksyon sa Tanghali’, the newscast anchored by Raffy Tulfo, borders more towards sensationalized news. In fact, the show goes as far as to be considered a ‘Wanted sa Radyo’ in newscast form, mainly due to the inclusion of the ‘Itimbre Mo Kay Tulfo’ segment.

In contrast, ‘Aksyon Tonite’ anchors Ed Lingao and Cheryl Cosim have done a great job minimizing sensationalized news in favor of national issues. That said, it’s hard to fathom why ‘Aksyon”s other newscasts failed to follow the example set by ‘Aksyon Tonite’.

Radyo5 92.3 News FM also has its own share of problems, due to the presence of vacant timeslots. The fact that they lacked any capable personnel to host its programs is a clear sign that the only news-centric FM radio station in the country is on the rocks.

The lack of public service and commentary programs on TV5 are also glaring. The only such programs that currently air on TV5 right now are ‘ReAksyon’ and ‘Alagang Kapatid’, with ‘History with Lourd’ and ‘Public Atorni’ airing reruns.

Their hiring of ‘EMAJs’ (entertainers masquerading as journalists) have also affected the division. Let’s face it, no one would want guys like Jun Sabayton, Lourd de Veyra, Grace Lee and Shawn Yao to man the network’s news coverage.

Finally, AksyonTV’s decision to end most of its Radyo5 simulcasts in favor of blocktimers such as ‘EZ Shop’, ‘Shop TV’ and ‘Shop Japan’ is a clear sign that News5 is no longer intent on sustaining the embattled channel. That said, AksyonTV could be on the verge of becoming a predominantly sports channel in a similar vein as ABS-CBN Sports+Action.

So what urgent plans are needed for News5 to regain its old glory? Find out this Thursday on Part II of this article.

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