hits, music, news, Philippines, politics, public affairs, radio, songs, television

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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news, Philippines, politics, public affairs

In Memory of News5

The death of News5 is all but finalized.

On Friday, November 3, TV5 management announced the cancellation of ‘Aksyon sa Umaga’, ‘Aksyon News Alert’ and ‘Aksyon Tonite’ to make way for the newly-rebranded ESPN5 block that will go full swing in December. The only newscasts retained by the network are ‘Aksyon sa Tanghali’ and ‘Aksyon Prime’.

The cancellation of these three programs marked the latest in a saga of changes that deepened News5’s problems. Whether it is the loss of several talents, questionable programming decisions, lack of resources or signal concerns, News5’s issues only served to undermine its abilities as a news-gathering force.

There is no need to discuss what went wrong as this blog already discussed in detail the many problems that News5 faced (and the potential solutions that would have helped). Instead, this article will look back at News5’s contributions during its storied but tenuous run.

News5 started the ‘news on FM radio’ revolution when they launched Radyo5 92.3 News FM back in 2010. A few months after, AksyonTV was born, and at the time, it was the only 24/7 all-Filipino language news channel on free TV.

They also went into a partnership with Bloomberg LP in 2015 and launched Bloomberg TV Philippines, the first Filipino business news channel. Other contributions by the network include News5 Digital, then the only online news channel in the country, and News5 newscasts produced in high definition.

Some of the Philippines’ most talented journalists also made News5 their home. These include current PCOO secretary Martin Andanar, the late Amelyn Veloso, the Tulfo brothers (Ben, Raffy and Erwin), Cheryl Cosim, Ed Lingao, Jove Francisco and former DOT spokesperson Cherie Mercado among others.

Finally, News5 did produce some quality programs of their own. Aside from the ‘Aksyon’ newscasts, some of News5’s award-winning shows include ‘T3’, ‘History with Lourd de Veyra’, ‘Kaya’ and ‘Alagang Kapatid’.

Overall, despite all the problems they have faced, News5 still tried its best to keep up with its more superior counterparts in ABS-CBN and GMA. Still, its inevitable demise has viewers thinking what might have been had they smartly made moves to benefit both the technical and the economical aspect of the organization.

Now that Chot Reyes is about to turn TV5 into an S+A clone (for lack of a better term), the promising organization that is News5 is all but a distant memory. The newscasts may keep it alive, but for all intents and purposes, this organization’s days are numbered.

Thanks for all the memories, News5. You’ll be sorely missed.

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news, Philippines, politics, public affairs, television

Thoughts on PTV-4 Using Other Networks’ Feeds

People’s Television Network has a very interesting case going on.

Last night, while President Rodrigo Duterte fielded questions from the media, PTV-4 inexplicably used the feed of the ABS-CBN News Channel instead of their own (see example video below). The reason: Radio-Television Malacañang, the media arm of the Philippines’ executive branch, was caught off guard by the unscheduled Q&A.

As a result, they were unable to document the press conference in time, so it was up to the respective networks to shoot their own. Unfortunately, PTV-4 failed to provide broadcast equipment in time for the impromptu event, forcing them to ‘borrow’ ANC’s feed.

This is not the first time that PTV-4 used a feed from another network. On a few other occasions, they have borrowed ANC, CNN Philippines and even GMA News TV’s feeds during President Duterte and various other spokespeople’s live appearances, when in fact they should have been sourcing these material from either their own or RTVM’s.

These occasional problems made it clear that PTV-4 is not ready to be a self-sustainable project just yet. While President Duterte promised sweeping improvements for the government station, so far these are on the side of gradual and not an immediate need at the moment.

However, PCOO secretary Martin Andanar should have been aware of PTV-4’s shortcomings. Realizing that the network is still dependent on private outfits to source some of the material, Andanar needs to change that mentality by providing the much-needed budget for PTV-4’s broadcast equipment.

The station should also be in constant communication with RTVM so that they can provide the necessary equipment in the event of a live appearance from President Duterte. With RTVM’s equipment more updated than PTV-4’s, perhaps the time is right for the two outfits to join forces and supplement each other’s broadcasts.

But if RTVM will not be up to task, it is up to Andanar and the PCOO to ask PTV-4 to go ahead as it happens. In short, PTV-4 should be more prepared than ever to document these crucial events.

PTV-4 is indeed the government’s best asset. But until they shed these overdependent tendencies, all that support will be for nothing.

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hits, music, Philippines, radio, songs

104.3 FM2 Poses New Challenge to Retro 105.9 DCG-FM

Retro 105.9 DCG-FM has a new rival.

Almost three years to the day Retro 105.9 made history as Metro Manila’s first classic hits-oriented radio station, a new network of the same genre began to emerge out of nowhere. On February 2, 104.3 FM2 made its maiden broadcast, with Bong ‘Sonny B’ Aportadera and Carlo ‘Carlo Jose’ Villo sharing the day-to-day operations of the new station.

For those who are not familiar with this station, DWBR 104.3 is owned by the Philippine government via the Philippine Broadcasting Service. Thus, the station is part of an umbrella that includes the People’s Television Network (PTV-4), DZRB Radyo ng Bayan 738, DZSR Sports Radio 918 and DZRM Radyo Magasin 1278.

The station was originally known as 104.3 Business Radio, playing mostly songs of the ‘big band’ era. They also covered business news that cater to affluent citizens, hence the name.

However, on January 15, Business Radio officially left the airwaves after over 30 years in operation. It was clear to Martin Andanar and the PCOO that the station is losing its luster, with its brand of ‘big band’ music getting out of touch with a modern generation of listeners.

As a result, the station underwent a drastic makeover in order to attract a younger audience. Thus 104.3 FM2 was born, with a playlist mainly dedicated to 80s and 90s music.

The establishment of FM2 became a turning point in the classic hits genre of FM radio in the country. While Retro 105.9 DCG-FM remains the premiere source for throwback songs, the emergence of FM2 could pose a threat to their dominance.

That said, listeners now have two options to find the music that they love and grew up with. Not to mention that both stations operate in the daytime and deep into midnight.

The entry of FM2 is only the beginning for Martin Andanar’s rebuilding of the PBS Group. Next up is an unnamed FM station on the 87.5 band, which is still in the testing stage.

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Philippines, satellite TV, Sports, television

With PBA Rush, League’s Future with TV5 Appears Secure

Cignal’s newest channel, PBA Rush, was launched July 17, at a time when the league’s future with parent network TV5 is in doubt. (Logo courtesy of the Philippine Basketball Association, Cignal Digital TV)

Looks like loyal followers of the PBA will have nothing to worry about as far as television coverage is concerned.

Yesterday, the league and Cignal joined forces to launch a 24-hour channel called PBA Rush. Available exclusively on Cignal SD channel 52 and HD channel 129, the channel will feature live PBA games, as well as special league-centric programming and classic games.

Prior to the official unveiling of PBA Rush, the channel had been airing in test broadcast since early July. During that period, it aired replays of the season’s two previous tournaments (Philippine Cup, Commissioner’s Cup), as well as the FIBA Olympic qualifying tournament.

The decision to launch PBA Rush came at a not-so opportune time. The ongoing Governors’ Cup was to be the league’s last hurrah with TV5, and with the network enduring a lot of problems with its programming, it seems obvious that the PBA could be on its way out.

But where will the PBA go at this point? Here’s a look at how the other free TV channels stack up as far as the league is concerned (only VHF channels are listed here, as the PBA prefers to airs games on that platform only).

ABS-CBN – The Kapamilya network has expressed interest in airing the PBA games for a long time. However, what holds them back is their reluctance to air the games on primetime, the league’s long-standing decision to air games on VHF channels only, and the sports division’s loaded lineup.

PTV-4 – The PBA and the People’s Network are no stranger to each other, having been partners during the 1980s and the first half of the 1990s. But with the network undergoing a rebuilding phase under PCOO secretary and former TV5 personality Martin Andanar, it is unlikely that a reunion will take place in the foreseeable future.

GMA/GMA News TV – Sporting events and GMA have been few and far between since the network switched from a rainbow logo to a rainbow-colored heart logo. And with the Kapuso network already in a spending binge thanks to the return of ‘Encantadia’, it is unlikely that GMA will pursue the PBA (and any other sporting event for that matter) anytime soon.

RPN-9/CNN Philippines – Before RPN-9 became the home of CNN Philippines, it used to air PBA games in the 1970s and more recently in the late 2000s. However, since CNN has content rights to the local version of the channel, there is no way that a reunion with the PBA will happen as long as they’re here.

IBC-13 – The PBA and IBC has had three different stints under three different partners: Vintage/VIVA TV, PTV-4 and Sports5. But with the embattled network currently up for sale, any further return is not in the cards for now.

That said, it is a safe bet that the PBA and TV5 will renew their contract soon after the conclusion of the Governors’ Cup. Then again, any contract renewal may no longer be a possibility, since the launch of PBA Rush essentially extended PBA’s relationship with TV5 for the foreseeable amount of time.

Still, it remains to be seen if the launch of PBA Rush will pay dividends. But let’s just hope that the channel will not pose a threat to Manny V. Pangilinan’s pocket.

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