Philippines, Sports, television

Barely Recognizable: PBA News Seldom Mentioned in Other Networks

Hardly mentioned: News surrounding the PBA is a seldom occurrence in ABS-CBN and GMA newscasts. (Photo credit: Philippine Basketball Association)

News surrounding the Philippine Basketball Association is hard to come by these days.

Once one of the Philippines’ national pastimes, the league has fallen on hard times in recent years due to a bevy of controversies. Nowadays, the PBA is barely mentioned at all in  TV networks outside ESPN5, a byproduct of declining interest that has alarmed the league of late.

One network, in particular, has repeatedly shunned the PBA when it comes to sports news. Enter ABS-CBN and its family of networks.

In ABS-CBN’s most recent year-end sports report, there was not even a single mention about the PBA. The network, in particular, failed to account the 50,000 or so crowd that saw Barangay Ginebra San Miguel win Game 7 of the Governors’ Cup finals over the Meralco Bolts, or the two championships won by the San Miguel Beermen last season, or the Christian Standhardinger-Chito Narvasa controversy.

It has been a pattern that is constant for the past several years. Instead of the PBA, ABS-CBN’s TV newscasts focused more on its sports properties such as the UAAP, NCAA, NBA and ABL, as well as national teams such as the Gilas basketball team and the Azkals football team.

In fairness, ANC’s Hardball, DZMM’s Fastbreak and ABS-CBN’s sports and news websites always make up for the newscasts’ oversight by mentioning and even talking about the PBA in greater detail. But even that is not enough to slap some sense in ABS-CBN’s mindset.

Now what about GMA? While they also report about the PBA on their news websites, they also do not mention the league’s news on their newscasts, and worse, they barely care about the world of sports at all since they do not even have a sports division.

Which leaves us to the only two networks that do take a look at the PBA on a regular basis: PTV-4’s ‘PTV Sports’ and CNN Philippines’ ‘Sports Desk’. Much like the PBA, they are hardly recognizable in the viewers’ consciousness, but at least they are doing their best to cover the league’s latest news with consistency and detail.

But for the two network giants in South Triangle, not mentioning the PBA on television is an disgrace to the league. Yes its popularity may have slipped of late due to these internal issues, but the PBA is still an important part of the Filipino sporting landscape and something needs to be done to rekindle the league’s interests.

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Philippines, Sports, television, United States

FTT Year 2017 in Review: The Hot or Not Stories That Define the Year in Media (Part IV)

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 IPart II and Part III of this series, click on the highlighted link for more information.

Here is Part IV of the four-part series. These stories are arranged in no particular order.

HOT: PBA at Philippine Arena

The final three games of the 2017 PBA Governors’ Cup Finals were held at the Philippine Arena. Not surprisingly, the venue was packed to the rafters, thanks in large part to the presence of crowd favorite and defending champion Barangay Ginebra San Miguel.

Ginebra went on to defeat the Meralco Bolts in seven games, with Game 7 becoming the highest-attended PBA game ever with over 54,000 spectators. The victory also gave San Miguel Corporation a perfect 3-for-3 in terms of championships in the 2016-17 PBA season, with the San Miguel Beermen having conquered both the Philippine and Commissioner’s Cup as well.

NOT: ESPN5

TV5 started 2017 by defiantly telling viewers to ‘choose courage’ in their station ID. By the end of the year, however, courage turned to cowardice as Chot Reyes gradually turned TV5 into a sports-oriented network and stripped whatever’s left of the station’s content.

The final straw came in October when TV5 signed a deal with ESPN to rename its sports division into ESPN5. Since then, the collaboration purchased the broadcast rights to the National Football League and U.S. NCAA college basketball to go along with local sports such as the PBA and the Philippine SuperLiga.

HOT: International Football on S+A

Already with the rights to the NBA, UAAP, NCAA, FIFA football, ABL and ONE Championship among other sports, ABS-CBN Sports acquired another big fish late in the year thanks to a collaboration with beIN Sport and Triple CH. The deal brought in the Premier League, La Liga and the UEFA Champions League to S+A.

The acquisition is, in many ways, beneficial to Filipino football fans who are craving to watch some of the world’s top footballers like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo for free. However, with football having one of the most expensive broadcast rights in the world, it remains to be seen if ABS-CBN Sports’ risk will become a reward.

NOT: PFL on PTV-4

Suffice to say, the inaugural season of the Philippines Football League did not work out on the television side. The league faced plenty of problems with coveror PTV-4, namely weather postponements and the unexpected live broadcasts of President Rodrigo Duterte’s speeches.

By August the PFL suddenly disappeared from television as it became fed up with PTV-4’s presidential priorities. With the first season already complete, perhaps the time is now to find a new broadcast partner for next season.

HOT: NBA on ABS-CBN

2017 was a surprisingly productive year for ABS-CBN’s NBA coverage. Beginning with the 2017 playoffs, S+A aired NBA games every day up until the finals, with a few dates reserved for doubleheaders.

Once the finals began, ABS-CBN Sports employed a simulcast on both Channel 2 and S+A. The former featured commentary from Boom Gonzales and TJ Manotoc live from the U.S. while the latter used the feed featuring ESPN announcers Mike Breen, Mark Jackson, Jeff Van Gundy and Doris Burke.

ABS-CBN also made NBA games available on S+A’s HD platform, which was previously separate and distinct from its SD counterpart. However, ABS-CBN’s surprise increase in NBA game coverage was just a reprieve for SkyCable subscribers, no thanks in part to a brewing controversy.

NOT: Solar Entertainment/SkyCable Controversy

It was deja vu all over again as Solar Entertainment pulled out its cable channels from SkyCable amid furor over NBA broadcast rights. The network claimed that ABS-CBN owed them millions of pesos for the rights to carry Basketball TV and NBA Premium TV.

The conflict remains unresolved as of now due to conflicting statements between the two parties. This left angry NBA fans with no choice but to switch over to other cable and satellite outlets or subscribe to NBA League Pass.

HOT: Sports News Programs on TV

2017 saw two new sports news programs debut on Philippine television. In January, the ABS-CBN News Channel premiered ‘Gametime’ with Migs Bustos at the helm, while in December, ESPN5 brought in ‘SportsCenter Philippines’ with Aaron Atayde, Lia Cruz, Magoo Marjon and Amanda Fernandez as its anchors.

Meanwhile, CNN Philippines’ ‘Sports Desk’ lost one of its pillars as Mico Halili announced his departure from the network amid rumors of a reorganization. Finally, PTV-4 announced that PTV Sports would return as a standalone program after nearly a year’s absence, with Dennis Principe once again at the helm alongside Meg Siozon and Angel Atienza.

NOT: WWE on FOX

Carriage issues also got in the way of WWE programming on FOX Philippines’ family of networks as it announced that they would cease ties with the wresting promotion after a six-year run. This was due to the two parties’ inability to agree on a renewal.

Shortly thereafter, TV5 announced that they would air WWE programs on their networks, but so far, only the condensed edition of SmackDown is currently on their lineup. As for Raw, the commercial-free 90-minute edition was made available on WWE’s YouTube page (for Philippine viewers only) while other programs can be seen via the WWE Network service.

Summary and Outlook

Overall, 2017 was both a challenge and an experience for media in the Philippines. Longstanding issues and pressing concerns were all over the place as each network tried its best to resolve each and every one of them.

Looking ahead to 2018, there are still plenty more challenges to conquer and some new tasks to take. The evolution in media does not stop here and From the Tube will continue to bring in the latest news in the world of broadcasting come next year.

In the meantime, have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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news, Philippines, Sports, television

Dissecting the Filipino Sports News Landscape with Entry of SportsCenter Philippines

It has been an eventful month so far for sports news programs in the Philippines.

As of this week there are four weekday sports news programs that currently air on Philippine television. These include:

  1. The Score (ABS-CBN S+A) – anchored by TJ Manotoc
  2. Sports Desk (CNN Philippines) – morning edition anchored by Andrei Felix, evening editions anchored by Mico Halili
  3. Gametime (ABS-CBN News Channel) – anchored by Migs Bustos
  4. PTV Sports (People’s Television Network) – anchored by Dennis Principe, Meg Siozon, Angel Atienza and Arianne Mallare

On Sunday, December 17, a fifth program will emerge. As part of ESPN’s new deal with TV5, the network will officially premiere its version of ‘SportsCenter’, to be anchored by Aaron Atayde and Lia Cruz.

Before viewers can get excited about ‘SportsCenter Philippines’, here is a summary of how each current program brings to the table. These are ranked according to quality and depth.

Sports Desk

A holdover from Solar News Channel era, CNN Philippines’ ‘Sports Desk’ has by far the best content of sports news that is to offer. The program is not shy to tackle all the sports news that people should know, whether it is the UAAP, the PBA or even other local and international sports.

It also helps that it airs three times a day, at 11:00 a.m., 6:30 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. on weekdays. However, with news of Mico Halili potentially departing CNN Philippines for perhaps a full-time role as a commentator with ABS-CBN Sports, can the show continue to deliver with regular substitute Paolo del Rosario?

PTV Sports

This program has been in and out of PTV-4’s lineup in recent years (remember Snow Badua?), but its latest iteration is simply a straight-up summary of the whole day’s worth of sports news. There are a few interviews here and there but other than that, they are more into quick bursts of reports.

However, as PTV-4 is a government station, there is a tendency for the program to be preempted whenever President Rodrigo Duterte makes an appearance on national television. Still, when the show does air, expect plenty of juice extracted in each report.

Gametime/The Score

Both shows are currently aired on ABS-CBN sister channels: ‘Gametime’ on ANC and ‘The Score’ on S+A. Unfortunately, they do not offer much in terms of sports news as they merely focus on sporting events currently handled by ABS-CBN Sports (e.g. UAAP, NCAA, NBA, ABL), not to mention they do not usually air live.

For those who seek a greater scope into sports news (albeit on a weekly basis), there is ‘Hardball’ on ANC and ‘Fastbreak’ on DZMM. It’s sad to say that both ‘Gametime’ and ‘The Score’ are a disappointment since ABS-CBN treated them like a showbiz news program that is biased towards a particular network’s artists.

So what expectations do people have for ‘SportsCenter Philippines’? For one, the show will premiere on a Sunday (a weekend no less) and it is assumed that the program will air seven days a week as opposed to a mere weekday airing that other shows do.

Also, with TV5 possibly rebranding into a full-on sports network as ESPN5, the network is expected to highlight ‘SportsCenter Philippines’ as its centerpiece program with all the sports news that people should know. That said, it will be interesting to see how this new player fares amid a crowd of sports-hungry fans.

Good luck to ESPN5. As for its competitors, there is no way to go but up.

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entertainment, Philippines, Sports, television

Sports360 Needs a Reformat

With the UFC essentially taking over late Sunday nights, TV5 needs to find a way to make ‘Sports360’ useful again. (Logo courtesy of TV5)

The past two months were not kind to TV5’s sports-oriented show ‘Sports360’.

Since the UFC became a property of Sports5 this year, ‘Sports360’ has been preempted regularly in favor of UFC events. With the show close to becoming an afterthought, its future was thrown into question.

As TV5’s sports-oriented talk show, it is the job of ‘Sports360’ to give Kapatid sports fans the latest updates on a variety of sporting events every week. But its constant preemptions made it difficult to stay in tune with the ever-changing sports landscape.

Look at the other sports talk shows in the country (e.g. ANC’s ‘Hardball’, ABS-CBN Sports+Action’s ‘The Score’, and CNN Philippines’ ‘Sports Desk’). While they are not here to provide some entertainment (as ‘Sports360’ usually does), at least they regularly provide updates in the world of sports to the avid fan.

This is a dilemma that the new Sports5 head Patricia Bermudez-Hizon must face. After all, they are the so-called ‘Olympic network’ (they will broadcast the 2016 Summer Olympics later this year), and if they want to live to that billing, they need to make ‘Sports360’ a constant presence on the network.

One thing they would like to see is the conversion of ‘Sports360’ into a daily sports talk show, with less focus on entertainment and more on analysis and news reporting. The current hosts may be experienced on-air talent for various Sports5 programming, but to keep the show running, they need to emulate either Mico Halili or TJ Manotoc to become useful.

Since TV5 is too loaded programming-wise, the best possible channel for ‘Sports360’ would be AksyonTV, whose sports-centric format makes it a perfect fit (signal issues notwithstanding). Another option would be HYPER, but this may not please SkyCable subscribers.

In any case, TV5 must address the fate of ‘Sports360’ as soon as possible. They don’t want to turn the show into a liability, so they need to act accordingly and turn the show into something more reliable to their viewers.

It’s up to TV5 to save ‘Sports360’. Good luck.

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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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cartoon, education, entertainment, news, Philippines, politics, public affairs, television

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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