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FTT Year 2015 in Review: Television’s Worst

Another year is about to end. But before the calendar flips to 2016, here is a look back at the year that was in television and radio. This article looks back at the 10 worst moments in Philippine television this year.

GMA Scraps Sunday TV Mass

On January 4, GMA decided to cease its broadcast of the Family TV Mass organized by the Society of Divine Word – Mission Communications Foundation, Inc. (SVD-MCFI), replacing it with the movie block ‘Kapuso Sine Klasika’. The Sunday Mass of SVD-MCFI returned to its old home in IBC-13 a week later.

Poor ratings of the Sunday Mass was among the reasons behind the cancellation. Despite the claims of many that GMA is promoting apathy and not favoring the Catholic religion, they still managed to cover (albeit not as dedicated as other stations) the visit of Pope Francis to the Philippines, as well as produce a religiously-themed teleserye ‘Pari ‘Koy’ starring Dingdong Dantes.

Gone Too Soon for KISPinoy and Misterless Misis

‘KISPinoy’ and ‘Misterless Misis’ aired for only three episodes each during the third quarter of 2015. The former was axed in late July, while the latter received a postponement (or possibly a cancellation) notice the following month.

Both events paved the way for VIVA to take over TV5’s entertainment department, with Vic del Rosario replacing Wilma Galvante.

PBB, It’s Showtime Summoned by MTRCB

‘Pinoy Big Brother: 737’ and ‘It’s Showtime’ were each summoned by the MTRCB for offending viewer sensibilities. The former was for the so-called ‘bromance’ involving teen housemates Bailey May and Kenzo Gutierrez, while the latter was for the alleged ‘pimping’ of ‘Pastillas Girl’ Angelica Yap in the ‘Nasaan Ka Mr. Pastillas’ skit.

Both shows eventually complied by imposing self-regulatory measures, among other rulings. MTRCB also summoned GMA’s ‘The Rich Man’s Daughter’ for strong language inappropriate to viewers.

GMA’s Finances Put Into Question

Despite an increase in revenue, GMA’s financial capabilities were on the hot seat anew this year. The increased revenue was done at the expense of the network’s ‘streamlining’ efforts which featured, among others, the closure of regional networks and programs, and the termination of long-time employees.

Felipe Gozon’s reluctance to sell a part of the network’s shares was also a major issue. Talks between him and Ramon Ang collapsed in August (with the latter later accusing Gozon of estafa), and a few months later, Gozon rejected offers from Chavit Singson and Manny Pacquiao to purchase a part of the network.

Pope Francis, SONA and APEC Coverage Issues

Not all news networks were able to cover the three biggest news events of the year. GMA News TV received major heat for their lack of coverage in both the visit of Pope Francis in the Philippines and the State of the Nation Address, while AksyonTV was criticized for their non-coverage of the APEC Summit.

The two embattled news networks deserved a lot of blame this year. Speaking of AksyonTV,…

AksyonTV’s Identity Crisis Continues

Admit it or not, AksyonTV really needs a makeover. No longer the 24/7 all-Filipino free TV news channel of years past, the network is now increasingly littered with sports coverage, ranging from major leagues like the PSL to more low-scale ones like the PCBL.

Perhaps the time is now for the network to bring back the AKTV name it once used as a blocktimer on IBC-13. After all, AksyonTV’s glory days are behind them.

StarStruck’s Disaster

The return of ‘StarStruck’ proved to be a glorified failure, as ratings and a questionable timeslot doomed the reality show’s sixth season. It was also long overdue, and it would have made a big difference for the network had it been placed opposite ‘Pinoy Big Brother: 737’.

That said, there may never be another season of ‘StarStruck’ after this. So much for hype gone wrong.

Goodbye Showbiz Talk Shows As We Know It

Easter Sunday of this year marked the final episode of the 16-year-old ‘The Buzz’. Seven months later, ‘Startalk’ took a bow as well after 20 years on air.

A change in viewer’s taste was a key reason behind the demise of both shows. Although ‘CelebriTV’ replaced ‘Startalk’, and ABS-CBN planned to revive ‘The Buzz’ in the future, it won’t be easy adapting to a new audience.

CNN Philippines Not Living Up to Expectations

Launched last March 15, CNN Philippines was supposed to be a local version of its parent network. However, a lot of issues surfaced from the beginning.

Whether it’s due to the revolving door of anchors and reporters, an overemphasis on Nancy Grace or the lack of round-the-clock news coverage, it is clear that CNN Philippines is still a work in progress. That said, Nine Media will need to make a lot of changes to ensure that this venture between them and CNN won’t end quickly.

NBA on ABS-CBN Demoted to the Studio

Since February, NBA coverage on ABS-CBN and ABS-CBN Sports+Action has been purely local, handled in-studio by Boom Gonzalez, TJ Manotoc, Ronnie Magsanoc and Benjie Paras. But to the surprise of many, only Manotoc traveled to the United States to cover the NBA Finals, and ABS-CBN opted to call the games in-studio rather than on location.

Delayed broadcast of the NBA games were a primary reason behind ABS-CBN’s questionable decision. Still, with digitization looming, and the migration to HD underway, it seems like this is a more logical solution for the network to save costs.

In tomorrow’s year-end special, From the Tube will look back at the 10 best moments in Philippine television this 2015.

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Collapse of GMA-Ang Deal Further Baffles GMA’s Business Operations

A deal between Ramon S. Ang and GMA has been terminated for unspecified reasons, furthering the already troubled business operations of the Kapuso network. (Photo credit: San Miguel Corporation)

The resuscitation of GMA Network has once again hit a roadblock.

It was announced Tuesday that talks between the said network and businessman Ramon S. Ang for the latter’s acquisition of a 30% share have been terminated. Responding to this sudden turn of events, Ang called the move surprising and unexpected, and promised to wait for any explanation by GMA regarding the situation at hand.

This was not the first time that talks between GMA and a potential investor have ended without any conclusive results. PLDT and TV5 chairman Manny V. Pangilinan have also entered talks to acquire a portion of GMA’s shares in 2001, 2004, 2012 and 2014, only to collapse in the end.

The latest development involving Ang and GMA marked the latest chapter in the decline and mismanagement of the network. Just recently, the Kapuso network have been involved in a pair of un-Kapuso-like decisions in relation to its business operations.

Late last year, 52 GMA employees were laid off while fighting for the regularization of their services, leading to a protest by the group known as ‘Talents Association of GMA’ (TAG). Claiming there were ‘unfair labor practices’, the group recently held a protest in front of the GMA headquarters in Timog Avenue.

Then in late April, GMA closed down four regional offices, canceled a pair of regional morning programs, and laid off at least 100 employees. The network claimed that they were merely streamlining its operations in order to increase ratings and revenue.

Coupled with still-declining ratings and programming quality, it is now clear why GMA is going nowhere. The lack of urgency to improve and expand the business is taking its toll on the network.

And it only made worse with its latest debacle involving Ramon S. Ang.

This is now a hopeless situation for Felipe Gozon, Gilberto Duavit and the rest of GMA management. Without any support from other investors, GMA is destined to become an afterthought in the media industry, something they cannot afford to happen.

They desperately need a new investor at this point. Perhaps a sit-down discussion with SM’s Henry Sy and family may help.

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FTT Year 2014 in Review: GMA

Another year is about to end. But before the calendar flips to 2015, here is a look back at the year that was in television and radio. This article will focus on the GMA Network, who endured yet another frustrating year.

Positives

In a year where anything could go wrong, only a few bright spots remained on the corner of EDSA and Timog Avenue.

GMA’s Afternoon Prime emerged as the network’s top performer on weekdays, with ‘Villa Quintana’ and its successor ‘The Half Sisters’ leading the way. Also enjoying impressive performances were ‘The Borrowed Wife’, ‘Yagit’, ‘Innamorata’ and ‘Ang Lihim ni Annasandra’.

Afternoon Prime’s predecessor ‘Eat Bulaga’ remained a force on noontime, gaining some notoriety for its ‘Suffer Sireyna’ segment. Fellow long-running programs ‘Bubble Gang’, ‘I-Witness’ and ‘Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho’ also continued to impress viewers.

Perhaps the most welcome sight on the Kapuso network this year was the return of the Sunday TV Mass after a four-year absence. In response to criticisms that GMA was biased towards Catholics, they got the services of Society of Divine Word – Mission Communications Foundation, Inc. (SVD-MCFI) to broadcast the weekly mass every Sunday morning, thus appeasing their Catholic viewers for now.

And finally, GMA earned numerous awards in both local and international award-giving bodies. GMA News and Public Affairs, in particular, continued to garner praise for its excellent journalistic work by winning another Peabody Award, in addition to numerous New York Festival awards.

Negatives

If there is one network who deserves much of the blame for its failures, it is GMA. And 2014 was just another tough year for the No. 2 network.

GMA Telebabad continued to be an underwhelming performer for the Kapuso network. Virtually every teleserye GMA threw at its disposal failed to make an impact, including the four-week long historical drama series ‘Ilustrado’, who performed badly against its rivals from Mother Ignacia.

The 19-year old ‘Startalk’ also underperformed this year, with timeslot changes to blame for its poor performance. Neither a return to Sundays (vs. ‘Buzz ng Bayan’/’The Buzz’), nor a transfer back to Saturdays (vs. ‘Ipaglaban Mo’ and ‘Failon Ngayon’) helped ‘Startalk”s performance this year.

An ongoing purge to GMA’s weekend programming proved to be not as tense as last year, although the slumping ‘Sunday All Stars’, a clear candidate for cancellation, moved to a later time to avoid ‘ASAP’. Three movie blocks on Sundays, along with ‘Asian Horror Stories’ on Saturdays, did not help GMA at all.

Being the king at answering ABS-CBN’s every move, GMA countered ‘Meteor Garden’ and other Kapamilya throwback Asianovelas by re-airing ‘Jewel in the Palace’, ‘Coffee Prince’ and others, none of which were successful. GMA also countered ABS-CBN by airing ‘Marian’, ‘Bet ng Bayan’ and ‘Don’t Lose the Money’ versus its rival’s programs, again to negative results.

Controversy also affected GMA in 2014. Both Aljur Abrenica and embattled GMA employees under the name ‘Talents Association of GMA’ filed lawsuits against the network for various complaints, while Sen. Bong Revilla’s arrest due to the PDAF scandal prompted the network to cancel ‘Kap’s Amazing Stories’ to avoid any negative publicity.

Overall, it was an abysmal year for GMA, both in terms of ratings, financial performance, and standards of quality.

Outlook

Ramon Ang may have taken some of the shares, but GMA’s fortunes continue to revolve around their aging pair of owners in Felipe Gozon and Gilberto Duavit. So expect another difficult and trying year on the corner of EDSA and Timog Avenue.

‘Second Chances’, a long-overdue series, will kick off GMA’s slate of new programs this 2015, but it remains to be seen whether or not will there be second chances for the said network this year. One thing’s for sure: a wild ride continues for the men and women inside the GMA Network Center.

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RPN Has a New Owner, But It’s Not Ramon Ang

9TV is now under the ownership of Aliw Broadcasting’s Antonio Cabangon-Chua, who also took over as chairman of RPN. (Photo credit: Fortune Life Insurance official website)

The Solar era on the Radio Philippines Network is officially over.

At 12:00 a.m. today, 9TV signed on as a replacement to Solar News Channel. But while cable viewers were able to witness the changing of the guard, those without it had to wait until 6:00 a.m. to see the change take effect.

Meanwhile, contrary to what was written previously on From the Tube, Ramon Ang did not actually acquire Solar TV and a stake on RPN. Instead, he was only interested in acquiring the network’s shares prior to his partial acquisition of GMA Network.

It was later revealed that the entirety of Solar TV and a portion of RPN’s shares were acquired by Antonio Cabangon-Chua, owner of Aliw Broadcasting Corporation. In addition, Cabangon-Chua was elected chairman of RPN, replacing Solar Entertainment’s Wilson Tieng.

This will be Aliw’s first foray into the television industry. The company started in 1991 with DWIZ 882-AM as its flagship station, before expanding into FM radio with Home Radio (now Natural).

In addition, Cabangon-Chua owns and publishes the broadsheet BusinessMirror and tabloid Pilipino Mirror under the Philippine Business Daily Mirror Publishing, Inc. banner. The former ambassador to Laos has also invested in insurance, banking, and real estate, among other ventures.

The recent acquisition of RPN by Aliw followed the tie-up that the two parties forged in January. It can be recalled that both RPN and Aliw signed a memorandum of agreement to have a selection of DWIZ radio programs air on RPN’s national Radyo Ronda AM stations.

Cabangon-Chua also plans to rename Solar Television under the Aliw banner. Should the plan bear fruit, it will officially cease any association with the previous ownership.

It is indeed the dawn of a new era in the storied yet tumultuous history of RPN. Now the question is, what’s next for the station? Only time will tell.

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Solar News Channel Out, 9TV In

Solar News, along with the Solar News Channel, will officially become 9News and 9TV, respectively. The change will take effect on August 23. (Logo courtesy of 9News)

Channel 9 on Philippine free TV has a new name.

On August 23, Solar News Channel will officially rename themselves as 9TV, leaving behind its iconic ‘sun’ logo and blue and yellow scheme in favor of a more generic blue and red branding. In addition, the Solar News organization will change their name to 9News.

The announcement was first made on August 13 through a Twitter post of 9News senior anchor Jing Magsaysay. According to the said statement, the network’s rebrand ‘marks the beginning of the channel’s thrust to reach a wider audience and to strengthen its presence on free TV RPN-9.

Other than the brand change, the staff, objectives and values, and programming will be retained. However, the previously announced Kids Weekend, originally slated to premiere last August 16, will now be launched this Saturday, alongside other programs aimed towards a bigger audience.

The seeds of Channel 9’s rebrand were first sown in November 2013, when Ramon Ang acquired Solar News and a stake on RPN-9 from Solar Entertainment. Soon after, SNC and ETC traded channels, with SNC moving to RPN-9 and ETC to SBN-21.

Then in late July and early August, all news programs of SNC dropped the ‘Solar’ name, while the ‘sun’ logo and Solar News signage were taken off the network’s studios in Mandaluyong. And in a sign of things to come, all reporters of the said network are now required to use the 9News name after every report.

That said, the rebrand of the Solar News Channel to 9TV will officially mark the end of Solar Entertainment’s decade-long relationship with RPN. Solar was essential in privatizing RPN after two decades of government sequestration, but the loss of finances also led to their sale of Solar News and RPN to Ramon Ang, who promptly changed the direction of Channel 9.

This Saturday will mark a new era in Channel 9’s storied yet tumultuous history. And for 9TV, it is time to start fresh.

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Another Missing Element in GMA’s Repertoire

The lack of a video-on-demand and live streaming online service is another problem that GMA is facing today. (Photo credit: GMANetwork.com)

Online live streaming and video-on-demand services in the Philippines are becoming a useful tool for viewers who want to catch up on their favorite programs.

But while ABS-CBN and TV5 currently have their own VOD and live streaming websites, it is GMA’s lack of a similar website that leaves a lot to be desired.

At the start of the current decade, both ABS-CBN and TV5 took advantage of the internet in order to showcase their television programs. The Kapamilya network launched their iWantv! service starting in 2010, while the Kapatid network followed suit with their own catch-up TV service a few years later. TV5 also launched News5 Everywhere for their news programs.

This left GMA as the only major TV station without a licensed website dedicated to catch-up and live stream programming. As a result, Kapuso viewers were forced to go elsewhere.

Past episodes of GMA programs were uploaded daily on YouTube and other video websites, without any regard for copyright infringement. In addition, the presence of unlicensed live streaming websites made it easier for Kapuso viewers to access GMA programs online and in real time.

Much like the inconsistency and lack of ratings success in their programming, the apparent mismanagement of their contracted artists, the lack of a sports division, and the overt dependence on re-runs, budget concerns are dragging GMA down. And with the lack of any available funds to capitalize on new media, it is no secret why GMA has not been successful of late.

While the partial acquisition of Ramon Ang will help boost GMA’s fortunes, it remains to be seen if his magic touch will pay off. But right now, GMA is an entity with a lot of problems. And the lack of a VOD and live-streaming website is just another dilemma for the embattled network.

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