news, Philippines, Sports, television

Is Sports Desk On the Way Out?

With the impending rebrand of 9TV to CNN Philippines, it appears that ‘Sports Desk’ is nearing its end.

Last Friday’s edition of ‘Sports Desk’ marked the final reports of host Jinno Rufino, who left the network as part of a reorganization of the said network. He made the announcement via a self-written article published on the 9News website the day before.

The departure of Jinno left Cesca Litton as the only remaining host of the revived program. Meanwhile, Jinno will continue to appear as an on-air talent for Basketball TV.

‘Sports Desk’ debuted on the then-Solar News Channel on December 3, 2012, with Jinno Rufino as the host. The program was also simulcast on SNC’s then-sister network Solar Sports, and later on, Jinno was joined by Cesca Litton as co-host.

When SNC was renamed 9TV in August of last year, ‘Sports Desk’ was one of the programs retained by the new network. As the ownership of 9TV was transferred from Solar Entertainment to Antonio Cabangon-Chua’s ALC Group, it created a conflict of interest for the show, as Jinno was a talent of Solar’s Basketball TV during the move and at the time, ‘Sports Desk’ was simulcast on Solar Sports.

But late last year, Solar Sports stopped simulcasting ‘Sports Desk’ due to its loaded sporting schedule, and as 9TV made the announcement to rebrand as CNN Philippines, the days of ‘Sports Desk’ seem to be numbered, since the possible 9TV to CNN move may include replacing ‘Sports Desk’ with a localized version of ‘World Sport’.

That said, Jinno’s departure was a huge loss for the show. ‘Sports Desk’ became successful thanks to his wealth of experience as a sports journalist, and without him, the show will have to compensate for his credibility among sports fans.

Whatever happens, viewers can only hope that ‘Sports Desk’ will hang on until the end. It will be a huge challenge for the show without Jinno, so good luck with that.

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Is RPN-9 Destined to Return?

The RPN name and logo was last used on air in 2012, after which Solar Television took full control of the network’s airtime. (Logo courtesy of the Radio Philippines Network)

All eyes are on Channel 9 and a possible return to the RPN name.

On July 21, Solar News Channel decided to drop the word ‘Solar’ from its news programs. Consequentially, the renamed programs are now simply known as ‘Daybreak’ (morning), ‘The Headlines’ (news updates per 15 minutes), ‘Newsday’ (afternoon), ‘Cebuano News’ (Cebuano language afternoon), ‘Kapampangan News’ (Kapampangan language afternoon), ‘Network News’ (early evening), ‘Nightly News’ (late evening), and ‘Sports Desk’ (sports).

In a related development, Media Newser Philippines also reported through a network insider that News9, the news department of the original Radio Philippines Network, will also be revived to replace the Solar News name, with a target launch slated for the last quarter of 2014. The report came after Ramon Ang of San Miguel Corporation acquired RPN’s stake from Solar Entertainment.

Then starting August 16, cartoons and educational programs will take over SNC’s weekend morning programming. SNC’s ‘Kids Weekend’ will feature the return of ‘Sesame Street’ to Philippine television, as well as other memorable cartoons such as the ‘Care Bears’, ‘Strawberry Shortcake’, ‘Batman’ and the DC Comics Universe, and ‘Pokemon’.

With all these developments, does this mean the old Radio Philippines Network name will return on the air? Or will this lead to an even bigger plan?

Let’s face it, Channel 9 is and will always be known as RPN-9. Not Solar News Channel, C/S 9, Solar TV, ETC, or any other incarnation in its history. RPN has been an iconic brand on Philippine television, and through good times and bad, the network always provided a great show for its viewers.

More importantly, with SNC’s slow move away from a purely news-oriented network, the possibility of bringing back the RPN name on air seems certain. Even the revival of the long-running but recently retired newscast ‘NewsWatch’ is bound to happen.

But there is one problem. Ramon Ang recently acquired a 30% stake of GMA Network, which means that he now has two stations in his watch. According to Media Newser Philippines, a merger between GMA and Solar News is inevitable, unless Ang gives up partial ownership of Channel 9.

Ang’s ownership of both networks will certainly affect the fortunes of both parties. Since GMA News and Public Affairs is the more recognizable and more credible of the two, they will be more than happy to absorb Solar News into their department. And as far as viewers are concerned, Solar News remains an unproven commodity even after three years of continuous operation.

Then again, these are all possibilities and might be subject to change in the near future.

It is clear that the sun is definitely setting on Channel 9’s latest incarnation. As the ‘Solar’ name is quietly being retired from the brand, a new era in the history of the Radio Philippines Network is about to take place.

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