news, Philippines, politics, public affairs, Sports, television

Lack of Full TV Coverage is Hurting the NCAA

NCAA coverage on television continue to be spotty at best. (Photo credit: GMA News Online)

President Noynoy Aquino’s State of the Nation Address will take place later this afternoon. Unfortunately, it is also a game day in the 90th NCAA season basketball tournament.

The NCAA doubleheader for this Monday afternoon will feature the San Beda-St. Benilde and Mapua-San Sebastian matches for both the juniors and seniors division. The seniors games are usually seen live on television, but due to today’s SONA, tape-delay broadcasts on the TV5 family of networks will be a likely scenario.

Television coverage has always been inconsistent for the Philippines’ oldest collegiate league. During the 1990s, when government TV stations PTV-4 and IBC-13 covered the games, only the opening day and championship matches were aired in full, with highlights of the other games relegated to their newscasts.

It only got worse in 2000, when the championship matches pitting St. Benilde and Jose Rizal College were not aired. Then in 2001, despite the guarantee of PTV-4 and Media Conglomerates, Inc. to air most of the matches, the NCAA tournament was reduced to a mere 30-minute highlight show called ‘Inside NCAA’, with opening day and championship matches being aired live.

In 2002, the NCAA decided to join forces with ABS-CBN Sports, with the league’s games now being featured on a regular basis. But with the UAAP already a fixture on Studio 23 (now ABS-CBN Sports+Action), the NCAA was relegated to a weekday-exclusive schedule, with non-televised games on Mondays. Still, it was a marginal improvement from the PTV-MCI era.

Ten years later, the NCAA signed a deal with Sports5 to cover their games. Initially airing over IBC-13 (via AKTV), the league was forced to return to UHF television via AksyonTV once the AKTV deal expired. In addition, TV5 aired the championship matches, before receiving a select slate of elimination games this year. This time, however, all games were aired on the said network.

Still, circumstances related to national events continued to affect the television coverage of the NCAA. Examples include the funeral of the late Corazon Aquino in 2009, the recent State of the Nation Addresses, and the Janet Lim-Napoles Pork Barrel hearings in 2013, which either led to pre-emptions or delayed broadcasts of the games. And more recently, the impromptu DAP address of President Aquino led to an abrupt end of Sports5’s live NCAA coverage.

In the end, it is clear that the NCAA is at a disadvantage. While television coverage is gradually improving, it is still far from a finished product. What the league needs now at this point is flexibility, from the scheduling to the availability of the venue, in order to take advantage of live television, and to satisfy the demands of loyal fans.

NCAA management should start learning from these experiences. Otherwise, the league will continue to feel its fair share of shortcomings on television coverage.

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news, Philippines, politics, public affairs, television

TV Coverage of Napoles Testimony

Janet Lim-Napoles appeared before the Senate today to testify regarding the Pork Barrel scandal. The much-anticipated testimony was covered by most free TV outlets. However, in an apparent deference, ABS-CBN’s free TV channel 2 and Studio 23 opted not to cover the event in full. Instead they only gave updates and partial live feeds on the ongoing testimony. Also, both AksyonTV and TV5 opted to end their coverage by 12:00 p.m. in order to air the NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four.

Give every network credit for pooling their resources in order to bring ongoing updates and live coverage on the Napoles testimony. However, I have to criticize both ABS-CBN and TV5 for a variety of reasons. ABS-CBN, for its part, decided to air the entirety of the Napoles testimony exclusively on its cable networks DZMM TeleRadyo and ABS-CBN News Channel. And while they did air a snippet of the live coverage on Channel 2, it is simply not enough. They may have a high number of cable subscribers on its affiliate SkyCable, but they did not oblige to the most important commodity in television viewership: the masses.

TV5, for its part, ended their coverage to give way to the NCAA Final Four. Unfortunately, they covered the entire tournament on both TV5 and AksyonTV when in fact, they only need to air it on TV5 and defer the Napoles coverage to AksyonTV. For some reason AksyonTV wanted to simulcast the NCAA tournament as a ‘test broadcast’ in an effort to improve its signal and reach, something they have also done in the recently concluded PBA Governors’ Cup Finals. But on this day, AksyonTV failed to be the 24-hour news channel that viewers hoped, and their non-airing of Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago‘s press conference following the testimony was an insult to the network.

As for GMA News TV, they were able to commit in full to the testimony, even if they have incurred several no-shows in the past. They realized the importance of this issue, and I have to commend them for a job well done. Despite their reputation as a non-24 hour news channel, and their emphasis on tabloid-like reporting, they were able to give way to something national in scope, at least for today.

With the entire nation watching, Janet Lim-Napoles is now thrust in the spotlight, in what has been the most controversial scandal that rocked the government since the plunder case of President Joseph Estrada. And television networks are taking notice.

ERRATUM: TV5 continued to air the Napoles testimony and deferred to AksyonTV for the live NCAA Final Four coverage. Still, it would have been better if TV5 pushed through with the NCAA coverage and gave the Napoles coverage to AksyonTV instead.

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