Philippines, Sports, television

Barely Recognizable: PBA News Seldom Mentioned in Other Networks

Hardly mentioned: News surrounding the PBA is a seldom occurrence in ABS-CBN and GMA newscasts. (Photo credit: Philippine Basketball Association)

News surrounding the Philippine Basketball Association is hard to come by these days.

Once one of the Philippines’ national pastimes, the league has fallen on hard times in recent years due to a bevy of controversies. Nowadays, the PBA is barely mentioned at all in  TV networks outside ESPN5, a byproduct of declining interest that has alarmed the league of late.

One network, in particular, has repeatedly shunned the PBA when it comes to sports news. Enter ABS-CBN and its family of networks.

In ABS-CBN’s most recent year-end sports report, there was not even a single mention about the PBA. The network, in particular, failed to account the 50,000 or so crowd that saw Barangay Ginebra San Miguel win Game 7 of the Governors’ Cup finals over the Meralco Bolts, or the two championships won by the San Miguel Beermen last season, or the Christian Standhardinger-Chito Narvasa controversy.

It has been a pattern that is constant for the past several years. Instead of the PBA, ABS-CBN’s TV newscasts focused more on its sports properties such as the UAAP, NCAA, NBA and ABL, as well as national teams such as the Gilas basketball team and the Azkals football team.

In fairness, ANC’s Hardball, DZMM’s Fastbreak and ABS-CBN’s sports and news websites always make up for the newscasts’ oversight by mentioning and even talking about the PBA in greater detail. But even that is not enough to slap some sense in ABS-CBN’s mindset.

Now what about GMA? While they also report about the PBA on their news websites, they also do not mention the league’s news on their newscasts, and worse, they barely care about the world of sports at all since they do not even have a sports division.

Which leaves us to the only two networks that do take a look at the PBA on a regular basis: PTV-4’s ‘PTV Sports’ and CNN Philippines’ ‘Sports Desk’. Much like the PBA, they are hardly recognizable in the viewers’ consciousness, but at least they are doing their best to cover the league’s latest news with consistency and detail.

But for the two network giants in South Triangle, not mentioning the PBA on television is an disgrace to the league. Yes its popularity may have slipped of late due to these internal issues, but the PBA is still an important part of the Filipino sporting landscape and something needs to be done to rekindle the league’s interests.

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Philippines, Sports, television, United States

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

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 IPart II and Part III of this series, click on the highlighted link for more information.

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

HOT: PBA at Philippine Arena

The final three games of the 2017 PBA Governors’ Cup Finals were held at the Philippine Arena. Not surprisingly, the venue was packed to the rafters, thanks in large part to the presence of crowd favorite and defending champion Barangay Ginebra San Miguel.

Ginebra went on to defeat the Meralco Bolts in seven games, with Game 7 becoming the highest-attended PBA game ever with over 54,000 spectators. The victory also gave San Miguel Corporation a perfect 3-for-3 in terms of championships in the 2016-17 PBA season, with the San Miguel Beermen having conquered both the Philippine and Commissioner’s Cup as well.

NOT: ESPN5

TV5 started 2017 by defiantly telling viewers to ‘choose courage’ in their station ID. By the end of the year, however, courage turned to cowardice as Chot Reyes gradually turned TV5 into a sports-oriented network and stripped whatever’s left of the station’s content.

The final straw came in October when TV5 signed a deal with ESPN to rename its sports division into ESPN5. Since then, the collaboration purchased the broadcast rights to the National Football League and U.S. NCAA college basketball to go along with local sports such as the PBA and the Philippine SuperLiga.

HOT: International Football on S+A

Already with the rights to the NBA, UAAP, NCAA, FIFA football, ABL and ONE Championship among other sports, ABS-CBN Sports acquired another big fish late in the year thanks to a collaboration with beIN Sport and Triple CH. The deal brought in the Premier League, La Liga and the UEFA Champions League to S+A.

The acquisition is, in many ways, beneficial to Filipino football fans who are craving to watch some of the world’s top footballers like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo for free. However, with football having one of the most expensive broadcast rights in the world, it remains to be seen if ABS-CBN Sports’ risk will become a reward.

NOT: PFL on PTV-4

Suffice to say, the inaugural season of the Philippines Football League did not work out on the television side. The league faced plenty of problems with coveror PTV-4, namely weather postponements and the unexpected live broadcasts of President Rodrigo Duterte’s speeches.

By August the PFL suddenly disappeared from television as it became fed up with PTV-4’s presidential priorities. With the first season already complete, perhaps the time is now to find a new broadcast partner for next season.

HOT: NBA on ABS-CBN

2017 was a surprisingly productive year for ABS-CBN’s NBA coverage. Beginning with the 2017 playoffs, S+A aired NBA games every day up until the finals, with a few dates reserved for doubleheaders.

Once the finals began, ABS-CBN Sports employed a simulcast on both Channel 2 and S+A. The former featured commentary from Boom Gonzales and TJ Manotoc live from the U.S. while the latter used the feed featuring ESPN announcers Mike Breen, Mark Jackson, Jeff Van Gundy and Doris Burke.

ABS-CBN also made NBA games available on S+A’s HD platform, which was previously separate and distinct from its SD counterpart. However, ABS-CBN’s surprise increase in NBA game coverage was just a reprieve for SkyCable subscribers, no thanks in part to a brewing controversy.

NOT: Solar Entertainment/SkyCable Controversy

It was deja vu all over again as Solar Entertainment pulled out its cable channels from SkyCable amid furor over NBA broadcast rights. The network claimed that ABS-CBN owed them millions of pesos for the rights to carry Basketball TV and NBA Premium TV.

The conflict remains unresolved as of now due to conflicting statements between the two parties. This left angry NBA fans with no choice but to switch over to other cable and satellite outlets or subscribe to NBA League Pass.

HOT: Sports News Programs on TV

2017 saw two new sports news programs debut on Philippine television. In January, the ABS-CBN News Channel premiered ‘Gametime’ with Migs Bustos at the helm, while in December, ESPN5 brought in ‘SportsCenter Philippines’ with Aaron Atayde, Lia Cruz, Magoo Marjon and Amanda Fernandez as its anchors.

Meanwhile, CNN Philippines’ ‘Sports Desk’ lost one of its pillars as Mico Halili announced his departure from the network amid rumors of a reorganization. Finally, PTV-4 announced that PTV Sports would return as a standalone program after nearly a year’s absence, with Dennis Principe once again at the helm alongside Meg Siozon and Angel Atienza.

NOT: WWE on FOX

Carriage issues also got in the way of WWE programming on FOX Philippines’ family of networks as it announced that they would cease ties with the wresting promotion after a six-year run. This was due to the two parties’ inability to agree on a renewal.

Shortly thereafter, TV5 announced that they would air WWE programs on their networks, but so far, only the condensed edition of SmackDown is currently on their lineup. As for Raw, the commercial-free 90-minute edition was made available on WWE’s YouTube page (for Philippine viewers only) while other programs can be seen via the WWE Network service.

Summary and Outlook

Overall, 2017 was both a challenge and an experience for media in the Philippines. Longstanding issues and pressing concerns were all over the place as each network tried its best to resolve each and every one of them.

Looking ahead to 2018, there are still plenty more challenges to conquer and some new tasks to take. The evolution in media does not stop here and From the Tube will continue to bring in the latest news in the world of broadcasting come next year.

In the meantime, have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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Philippines, Sports, television

Thoughts on the NCAA’s Perpetual-Benilde Uniform Fiasco

The second playdate of NCAA Season 93 kicked off in a rather inauspicious manner.

The first game of last Tuesday’s tripleheader pitted the Perpetual Help Altas against the St. Benilde Blazers. However, the game did not get underway until around 12:45 p.m. due to a uniform issue involving the former.

The Altas showed up in their maroon jerseys, when in fact they were assigned to wear their white uniforms. As a result, the NCAA Management Committee (MANCOM) gave the team a technical foul, which the Blazers took advantage at the free throw line.

Although Perpetual won the actual match by a 69-65 score, CSB placed the game under protest. In the end, the NCAA sided with the latter and awarded them the win by forfeit.

While the NCAA stipulates that one team should wear a light uniform (usually white or yellow) to contrast with a team wearing a dark uniform, there is one school that has somewhat defied this rule more often than not. The Letran Knights has had a long-standing uniform tradition in which the school doesn’t wear white uniforms but rather only red or navy blue.

In fact, during that same playdate, Letran wore their navy blues (normally their dark uniform) when they faced the Mapua Cardinals (in red jerseys) in the ‘Battle of Intramuros’. To cut the long story short, here is how Letran’s navy and red uniforms are used in games:

Letran’s red jerseys: Assigned as a ‘light’ jersey in games against the JRU Heavy Bombers (navy blue jerseys), Arellano Chiefs (blue jerseys) and St. Benilde Blazers (green jerseys)

Letran’s navy blue jerseys: Assigned as a ‘dark’ jersey in all games; assigned as a ‘light’ jersey in games against the EAC Generals, LPU Pirates, Mapua Cardinals, Perpetual Help Altas, San Beda Red Lions, and San Sebastian Stags (red or maroon jerseys).

It is unclear if Letran’s uniform ‘tradition’ is grandfathered before the NCAA strictly enforced the ‘light vs. dark’ uniform rule. But either way, this loophole is something that the NCAA should have looked at, regardless of how long Letran is doing it.

To be honest, this rule should have been repealed. Most leagues around the world are now allowing both teams to show up in dark colored uniforms (as long as it easily contrasts against each other), and with the growth of high definition television, viewers should easily tell them apart.

The NCAA has a lot of explaining to do when it comes to uniforms. One can only hope that they can enforce this ruling as strictly as possible so that this fiasco will not be repeated, otherwise they can just repeal the rule and let the teams play the game.

Notes: The ‘NCAA on Tour’ kicks off today with the Arellano Chiefs hosting the San Sebastian Stags at the Arellano University campus. The league will hold their campus tours in most Thursday playdates, along with a live pregame concert and special presentations produced by ABS-CBN Sports.

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Philippines, Sports, television

ABS-CBN Sports: Basketball TV’s Only Hope

The loss of FIBA basketball and the abrupt cancellation of the NCRUCLAA coverage has hurt Basketball TV’s profile of late. (Logo courtesy of Solar Entertainment)

Basketball TV’s 10th year on the air has not been a smooth-sailing one.

The Solar Entertainment-owned network has seen plenty of losses in the last several months. Not only did it lose the FIBA basketball rights to Sports5, it also cut short its broadcast of the fledgling NCRUCLAA men’s basketball tournament a month into its maiden season.

On the positive side though, they managed to air an entire season’s worth of the NAASCU men’s basketball tournament while continuing its long and loyal commitment to the NBA and its related properties. Still, BTV’s increasing irrelevance has put a lot of pressure on Solar, and with the costs still growing, BTV’s days appear to be numbered.

There is a reason why BTV is known as ‘Basketball TV’: it is the home to a variety of basketball tournaments. While the network centers around the NBA, it also aired a number of other tournaments as well, such as the Euroleague, the U.S. NCAA March Madness, and local leagues such as the PBA and the defunct Philippine Basketball League.

However, as 2017 proved to be a poor year for both BTV and Solar, it is clear that the former needs a lot of help. At this point, a backup financier is all that BTV requires, and they can look no further than a fellow coveror of NBA games.

Back in 2011, ABS-CBN Sports signed a deal with the NBA to cover its games on free TV. Now the partnership between ABS-CBN and the NBA is six years strong, and they also expanded their scope online when ABS-CBN signed a contract with the NBA to operate the Filipino website of NBA.com.

ABS-CBN Sports also carry a wealth of experience covering local basketball. The network has existing deals with the UAAP and NCAA, and more recently, they began to broadcast the ASEAN Basketball League, along with grassroots basketball tournaments such as the NBTC and Slam Rising Stars competitions.

If Basketball TV wants to survive this cutthroat world of cable television, their only hope right now is to join forces with ABS-CBN Sports. With the latter’s experience and deep pockets, they could help BTV in any way, shape or form when it comes to providing top-notch basketball coverage.

It may take some time to materialize, but let’s face it, this is the only choice for BTV given their recent issues. That said, let’s just hope that Solar will be willing to allow rival ABS-CBN Sports to resuscitate BTV, and in doing so, alleviate the pressure of running a high-profile cable channel in the Philippines.

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Philippines, Sports, television

PBA on TV5’s Biggest Eyesore

This virtual Oppo logo has become a distraction to the PBA games on TV5. (Logo courtesy of Oppo)

This virtual Oppo logo has become a distraction to the PBA games on TV5. (Logo courtesy of Oppo)

The Philippine Basketball Association today is full of problems.

Whether it’s the poor attendance in games that do not involve Ginebra, or the questionable officiating that coaches regularly complain, the PBA is a league that is in hot water every so often. Heck, even television coverage of the games has been a problem in recent years.

These days, the PBA games on television are aired on TV5 and PBA Rush, employing a separate set of commentators for their respective Taglish and English broadcasts. While the games on PBA Rush are relatively free from any product placement, the same cannot be said for TV5’s broadcasts.

Much of the issue has something to do with the gigantic virtual Oppo logo popping out on the court during games. Oppo is currently the main sponsor of the PBA, but while the promotion of their products is worth noting, the visually irritating virtual logo on the court leaves a bad taste in one’s mouth.

TV5’s penchant for placing virtual logos is not limited to Oppo alone. In past years, the network has placed the Sports5 logo, followed by the team logos on each end of the court.

It should be worth noting that ABS-CBN Sports also tried to place virtual logos on the court during select NCAA basketball games last season. However they stopped placing these logos upon realizing that they are an eyesore to the league’s coverage.

Let’s face it, there is nothing wrong about promoting a particular product. However, the PBA is all about game action, and placing these virtual logos while players run up and down the court is extremely distracting.

The best that TV5 would have done is to follow the example of the ASEAN Basketball League. Every ABL team’s home court features an AirAsia (ABL’s main sponsor) sticker being placed on the court, and this feature gives the league a chance to showcase the game without any distraction from the television screen.

Even the NBA also follow the ABL’s example, as some teams place stickers of advertisements on the court. That said, the PBA should take a good look at it and convince TV5 to do the same thing without straying away from the game.

The PBA should be about the game and how the fans buy into it. Anything distracting could spell disaster for the league.

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entertainment, music, Philippines, politics, public affairs, radio, Sports, television

Fixing Radyo5 (and AksyonTV) Under Miguel Belmonte

New man in charge: Miguel Belmonte will now run Radyo5 and AksyonTV, hoping to restore the credibility of both stations (Photo credit: The Philippine Star)

New man in charge: Miguel Belmonte will now run Radyo5 and AksyonTV, hoping to restore the credibility of both stations. (Photo credit: The Philippine Star)

TV5’s renovation goes beyond Channel 5.

A few weeks ago, From the Tube discussed the plans that Chot Reyes envisioned for TV5, which included the return of AniMEGA and the entry of director Brillante Mendoza to the fold. Now let’s focus on the renovation project of TV5’s sister stations AksyonTV and Radyo5 92.3 News FM, both of which are now under the leadership of The Philippine Star CEO Miguel Belmonte.

Last year was a poor one for both stations, not only in coverage but also in programming. The plight of Radyo5 and AksyonTV was well-documented, from the departures of Martin Andanar and Cherie Mercado, to their inability to cover significant news-worthy events that other stations were deeply committed to.

Replacing erstwhile head Gladys Lana-Lucas with Miguel Belmonte serves as a first step to restore the news-gathering capabilities of both Radyo5 and AksyonTV. That said, here’s a look at both stations’ needs that Belmonte must address.

New Shows and New Hosts

Radyo5 really needs new hosts and new shows, period. The departures of Andanar, Mercado, Anthony Pangilinan and Benjie Felipe were deeply felt within the station, and Gladys Lana-Lucas’ inability to process replacements led to her dismissal.

This is one area that Belmonte must look at immediately, because from the looks of it, Radyo5 will never be equal to more established AM stations like DZMM, DZBB and DZRH. Heck, he can even sign a blocktime deal with another media outfit, similar to DZRJ 810 AM’s agreement with 8TriMedia.

Greater Commitment to Live Events

Radyo5 was essentially absent during important live events such as the hearings on extra-judicial killings and President Rodrigo Duterte’s public addresses. To do so, Belmonte must convince the hosts of Radyo5 to give way to events such as this in order to give its listeners an idea on what is going on (take note, Raffy Tulfo and Niña Taduran).

Although the PBA’s priority on the network could put an end to ongoing news coverage once it goes overtime, the least that Radyo5 can do is to prove that they are a worthy news-covering machine on FM radio. There may be some constraints, but covering the news on the spot is better than nothing at all.

Embrace TeleRadyo Format on AksyonTV

AksyonTV wastes a lot of time by airing TV shopping blocks and reruns of now-defunct shows during vacant time periods. So why not allot the time for a TeleRadyo-esque format instead, except during live sporting events.

Since 2011, AksyonTV has been simulcasting select Radyo5 programs. The time is perhaps now to fully integrate the TeleRadyo in AksyonTV, given that the network no longer intends to produce original programs like they did in the past.

Improve AksyonTV’s Power and Revenue

This is indeed the most important need of the station. AksyonTV has long been criticized for its poor signal and power, which was the primary reason why the NCAA returned to ABS-CBN Sports and the PBA forced TV5 to air all of their games on VHF Channel 5 only.

Now under Belmonte, the time is now for AksyonTV to improve its facilities, power and reach to serve more viewers. But to do so, the station needs the backing of advertisers in order to provide much-needed revenue.

Miguel Belmonte’s role in restoring Radyo5 and AksyonTV will not be easy, given the extensive damage that both stations endured last year. That said, patience is a virtue, and if all the right buttons are pushed, then Radyo5 92.3 News FM and AksyonTV could return to prominence as soon as possible.

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