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Before One News: A Look Back on AksyonTV, 5’s Failed Attempt at a News Channel

AksyonTV was the first 24/7 Filipino language news channel, but financial losses led to its transformation into T5N’s complement channel. (Logo courtesy of The 5 Network)

Next week will herald a new chapter for News5.

On May 28, the news division of The 5 Network (T5N), along with The Philippine Star and BusinessWorld, will launch One News, a 24/7 English language news channel exclusive to Cignal. But before the fireworks take place, here is a look back at 5’s former news channel AksyonTV.

AksyonTV was launched on February 21, 2011, and was initially billed by 5 as the first 24/7 Filipino language news channel on free TV. During its first few years of operation, AksyonTV filled its programming lineup with simulcasts from Radyo5 92.3 News FM, as well as original programs exclusive to the network and other shows that also air on then-TV5.

Over the next several years, however, AksyonTV slowly drifted away from its original purpose and was rendered irrelevant by television think-tanks. The gradual decline of AksyonTV can be attributed to the following factors:

  • Overspending

When AksyonTV was first launched the MVP Group was on a spending tear, pooling all their resources in hopes of making TV5 competitive and at par with long-time giants ABS-CBN and GMA. However, they failed to account the poor reach and infrastructure of the network, leading to financial losses and consequently, this next factor.

  • News5’s Problems

In order to cut its losses, News5 elected to cancel original AksyonTV programs and focused more on 5’s newscasts and radio programs. However, News5 was soon hampered by the departure of numerous top talents and the downsizing of its staff, affecting not only AksyonTV but also 5 overall, leading to this next factor.

  • Arrival of Sports and Entertainment Shows

The lack of any original news programming forced 5 to reformat AksyonTV into a complement channel of T5N, adding ESPN5 programs, entertainment shows and TV shopping to the menu. The change in AksyonTV’s content also led to the launch of Bloomberg Philippines, which eventually morphed into One News.

Overall, AksyonTV was not a bad attempt by News5 in terms of operating a news channel. But had the network improved its reach and infrastructure, AksyonTV might have remained competitive and viable alongside the likes of GMA News TV, DZMM TeleRadyo, CNN Philippines and the ABS-CBN News Channel.

Unfortunately, with the launch of One News next week, it is clear that AksyonTV has outlived its usefulness. One can only hope that 5 will do something about AksyonTV in the immediate future, whether it is rebranding the network or selling it to other broadcast outfits.

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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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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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Radyo5 Should Let Go of Punto Asintado

The post-Erwin Tulfo era in ‘Punto Asintado’ is off to an unimpressive start.

Nearly a month after Erwin Tulfo left TV5 on his own terms, the show that Erwin left behind is still searching for a permanent and regular host. At the moment, four different hosts have filled in on ‘Punto Asintado’.

They are:

  • Mae Anne Los Baños
  • Maricel Halili
  • Alex Tinsay
  • Atty. Mel Sta. Maria

Call it an unstable bunch. While the four hosts are willing and able to fill the chair, their other roles within and beyond News5 prevent them from hosting ‘Punto Asintado’ on a regular basis.

Alex Tinsay, for example, is also the host of ‘Aksyon Solusyon’ on weekdays and ‘Metro Sabado’ on Saturdays. He is also one of the hosts of ‘The 700 Club Asia’ on the GMA family of networks.

Atty. Mel Sta. Maria is the host of ‘Relasyon’ alongside Gladys Lana-Lucas (by default; original host Luchi Cruz-Valdes no longer appears on the show since June). He also fills in for Orly Mercado on ‘Orly Mercado All Ready’ on occasion, and outside Radyo5, is the dean of Far Eastern University Institute of Law.

Both Mae Anne Los Baños and Maricel Halili serve as News5 reporters. Mae Anne was one of the anchors of ‘Balita Alas-Singko’ while Maricel hosts ‘Iba Yung Pinoy’ on Sunday afternoons.

The rotating host situation in ‘Punto Asintado’ is a microcosm of the overall situation that is going on at Radyo5 92.3 News FM. Throughout the past year, some of the station’s personalities left for various reasons, and the fact that Radyo5 executives have failed to fill in the gaps made it clear that the station’s days are numbered.

When every listener thinks of ‘Punto Asintado’, Erwin Tulfo will always come to mind. This show will always be identified with him, even though he had some co-hosts in Cheryl Cosim and Martin Andanar along the way.

Perhaps Radyo5 would be wise to cancel ‘Punto Asintado’ at this point because it makes no sense continuing the show without its most identifiable personality. The show is and will always belong to Erwin Tulfo regardless of where he goes.

As for the situation at the chair, Radyo5 may need to call Ed Lingao and Lourd de Veyra’s number. A new morning show with either one of them could mitigate the loss of one of Radyo5’s standout programs.

One can only hope that Radyo5 will do the right thing when it comes to the 8:00 a.m. weekday slot. Time is of the essence, so good luck to them in figuring out this mess.

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Time’s Up: Luchi Cruz-Valdes Must Retire The Mic

No one is as hard-working and determined as Luchi Cruz-Valdes.

The head of News5 is a do-it-all woman. Behind the scenes, she supervises the overall operations of the department, and on-screen, she anchors important programs and newscasts to occasionally critical acclaim.

Unfortunately for LCV, the ongoing situation within News5 is unbearable. Many of the department’s mainstays have departed for either greener pastures or a life of privacy, and the inability to find immediate replacements both within and outside the organization has put tremendous pressure on Luchi herself.

To make matters worse, Luchi was placed in the hot seat herself a number of times. There were rumors that she would step down as the head of News5, and yet these were put to rest.

And coming off recent surgery, Luchi’s on-camera work was significantly reduced of late. For all intents and purposes, she has relinquished her hosting job on ‘Relasyon’ in favor of the former head of Radyo5 Gladys Lana-Lucas, and her appearances on ‘Aksyon Prime’ and ‘ReAksyon’ were increasingly infrequent.

Still, TV5 has trust on Luchi Cruz-Valdes as far as on-screen roles are concerned. Which is why starting this Saturday, they gave the head of News5 a weekly debate series called ‘Manindigan’.

Airing every Saturday at 7:30 p.m., ‘Manindigan’ is an hour-long series that will tackle some of the issues that affect the country today. The series is essentially ‘ReAksyon’ in a forum format.

While ‘Manindigan’ will only be aired for a short period of time, it is clear that the on-air side of Luchi Cruz-Valdes is waning in significance. Last Monday, she anchored TV5’s coverage of the State of the Nation Address, but working the coverage by herself (with a little help from Ed Lingao) is career suicide considering her age and increased pressure of her job.

Perhaps the time has finally come for Luchi to retire the microphone and leave the anchor’s chair altogether. It would be better for her to focus on behind-the-scenes work full-time, something that contemporaries Ging Reyes, Marissa Flores and Armie Jarin-Bennett pride on doing.

No offense, but with News5 in must-improve or else mode, Luchi should focus on being the head of News5 instead of doubling as an on-screen talent at the same time. A commitment to restore News5 to its former glory is a must for her at this point.

Stepping aside may be the hardest thing to do, but for Luchi Cruz-Valdes, the time has finally come. Time to hand the reins over to younger journalists who are willing to gain experience in every way possible.

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FTT’s Guide to SONA 2017

The second State of the Nation Address under President Rodrigo Duterte is about to happen.

At around 4:00 p.m. of Monday, July 24, the vicinity of the Batasan Pambansa will be filled with politicians, delegates, spectators, mediamen, PNP and AFP officers, Vice President Leni Robredo, and the President himself. The SONA is an annual occasion where the President mentions his accomplishments and reveals his plans for the year ahead.

Last year’s State of the Nation Address was directed by Brillante Mendoza, which was met with mixed reviews. This year, Mendoza will once again be at the helm, but after an unimpressive first outing, expect a few tweaks in his directorial approach.

As for the coverage of the event, here is a summary of how the participating networks will approach the SONA.

ABS-CBN

  1. Channel 2, S+A (simulcast with Channel 2), DZMM and the ABS-CBN News Channel will be the participating stations; each broadcast will be simulcast online on news.abs-cbn.com/sona2017.
  2. Channel 2’s coverage will begin after ‘It’s Showtime’, with Karen Davila as anchor. As mentioned earlier, it will also be seen on S+A Channel 23.
  3. DZMM’s coverage will begin at 1:00 p.m. Karen Davila and Johnson Manabat will anchor the first two hours, followed by David Oro and Ricky Rosales at 3:00 p.m., before Gerry Baja and Anthony Taberna join the fray at 5:00 p.m.
  4. ANC’s coverage will take place throughout the day, with a townhall forum at 3:00 p.m. to be moderated by Karmina Constantino and Tony Velasquez.

CNN Philippines

CNN Philippines’ coverage begins at 5:00 a.m. In typical CNN Philippines fashion, their coverage will be bilingual; mid-morning to early afternoon coverage will be in Filipino while the rest will be in English.

Viewers of the network will see the likes of Claire Celdran, Amelyn Veloso, Ruth Cabal, Pinky Webb, Pia Hontiveros and Mitzi Borromeo anchor CNN Philippines’ SONA coverage. It will also be aired online on Facebook and on the CNN Philippines website.

GMA Network

GMA News TV confirmed that they will cover the SONA starting at 3:10 p.m., marking the first time since 2014 that the oft-criticized news network will participate in the event. Jessica Soho and Arnold Clavio will anchor said coverage.

However, Channel 7 and DZBB have yet to reveal its plans for the SONA. If Channel 7 and/or DZBB pushes through with separate coverage, it is likely that Mike Enriquez, Mel Tiangco and/or Vicky Morales will anchor the proceedings while DZBB will utilize some of its mainstays such as Joel Reyes Zobel.

TV5

The network that infamously snubs President Duterte’s live speeches on television will have no choice but to join in. While Luchi Cruz-Valdes is penciled in to anchor their coverage, she might as well need some help considering how decimated TV5’s team is right now.

TV5’s coverage will most likely be simulcast on AksyonTV (unless it changes its mind and airs nonsensical TV shopping programs), Radyo5 92.3 News FM, and on News5’s Facebook page and official website. They do not need to worry about preempting programs because their lineup is all but a free-for-all.

PTV-4

PTV-4’s coverage, which also features special packages throughout the day, will be led by Rocky Ignacio, Aljo Bendijo, Angelique Lazo, Alex Santos and Catherine Vital. The government-owned station will begin their coverage of the SONA at 2:30 p.m., with a simulcast on the network’s YouTube channel.

The revitalization of PTV was among the many objectives that President Duterte raised during last year’s SONA. The project is still ongoing, but viewers can only hope that PTV’s presentation will be a much-improved one.

Other networks

All AM radio stations (save for specialty ones) will be on-hand to cover this year’s SONA. On the television side, independent UHF TV stations Net 25 and UNTV-37 will also participate in the event.

As far as IBC-13 is concerned, it is likely that the beleaguered network will no longer play a role in the SONA. Although President Duterte promised an immediate privatization of the network in last year’s SONA, the process remains slow to say the least.

Come this Monday afternoon, all eyes will be on President Rodrigo Duterte. Never mind how long his speech will be, as long as viewers understand his message going forward.

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