cable TV, entertainment, movies, news, Philippines, politics, public affairs, Sports, television

Philippine Cable and Digital Channels Face Issue of Redundancy

Hero is one of several cable channels in the Philippines that was shut down this year due to redundancy in content. (Logo courtesy of Creative Programs Inc.)

Redundancy has become a common theme for cable and digital channels in the Philippines.

In the first half of 2018 alone, viewers witnessed a closure of numerous cable channels in the country. On the local side of the spectrum, there was Hero, TAG, ABS-CBN Regional Channel, CT and 2nd Avenue, and on the international front there was Toonami.

There were also some rebrandings and resurrections of several channels as well. CPI made LIGA the second coming of Balls in time for the FIFA World Cup (replacing ARC, TAG and Hero in the process) while rebranding Lifestyle into Metro Channel, and then the MVP Group converted Bloomberg Philippines into One News.

So why do these things happen to our beloved cable and digital channels? The most cited reason is financial constraints, but it goes deeper than that.

When two channels air similar content with one another, redundancy happens. This is exactly the case that befell the likes of Hero, TAG, CT, 2nd Avenue and Toonami because they feature similar themes and genres with one or several channels.

Hero and Toonami, for example, became victims of cord-cutters and other channels such as Cartoon Network, Boomerang, AniPlus, Animax and even Yey!, which show some anime and action series as well. Same with CT and 2nd Avenue who share some of the programming with sister channels Jack TV and ETC.

Going further back, CPI shut down Velvet in 2014 and moved some of its content over to Lifestyle. Four years later, Lifestyle was rebranded into Metro Channel and is now essentially a second coming of Velvet.

There is also LIGA, which was launched for the FIFA World Cup but is expected to face similar redundancy issues as Balls since its only other source of content are events that air on ABS-CBN S+A. Finally, the rebrand from Bloomberg Philippines to One News has made AksyonTV (a former news channel-turned-T5N clone) redundant, something the MVP Group must address moving forward.

However, redundancy is not limited to cable channels alone. Yey!, for example, has a movie block called ‘Kid Sine’, but some of the films shown here are also aired on sister channel CineMo (under the CineFantasya and CineKomedya blocks).

Yey! also airs reruns of ‘Your Face Sounds Familiar Kids’ while CineMo rebroadcasts ‘Ang Probinsyano’ and ‘Bagani’ on weekends. Such reruns should have been exclusive to Jeepney TV.

These are just some of the examples that face cable and digital channels today. Considering the competitive nature of this business, trying to stay unique and distinct in terms of content is not as easy as it looks.

So the best that these channels can do right now is to remain innovative and wide-eyed to the audience while keeping themselves afloat. This juggling act may be difficult, but when done properly, they can stay on the air for a long period of time.

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anime, cable TV, cartoon, lifestyle, Philippines, reality show, television

New Name for Lifestyle, Plus Toonami Gets the Ax

Lifestyle (Network) has a new name.

On April 2, 2018, Lifestyle was renamed and rebranded as the Metro Channel. Named after the high-end lifestyle magazine of the same name, Metro Channel will feature almost the same content as its predecessor, with a focus on food, fashion and travel programs.

Some of the programs that will air on Metro Channel include locally-produced shows such as ‘The Crawl’, ‘Casa Daza’, ‘At the Table’, ‘G Diaries’ and ‘Pia’s Postcards’. It will also feature foreign canned programs such as ‘Masterchef’, ‘America’s Next Top Model’ and ‘The Great British Bakeoff’.

Operated by ABS-CBN affiliate Creative Programs Inc., Metro Channel was originally launched on July 24, 1999 as the Lifestyle Network. It was later rebranded as ‘Lifestyle’ in 2015 with increased emphasis towards programs concerning food, fashion and travel.

Metro Channel will continue to air on SkyCable channel 52 and on high definition channel 174. It is also available on SkyDirect channel 31 and on select cable operators in the Philippines.

Easter weekend also saw the demise of Toonami, a cable channel operated by Turner Broadcasting. After nearly six years on the air, Toonami was officially shut down on March 31, 2018.

A sister channel of Cartoon Network and Boomerang, Toonami was known to air a selection of anime and American action cartoon series. Among the notable programs that were aired on Toonami include ‘Batman’, ‘Teen Titans’, ‘Ben 10’, ‘Inazuma Eleven Go’, ‘Yu-Gi-Oh’, ‘Yo-Kai Watch’ and ‘Dragon Ball Z’.

The shutdown of Toonami had huge repercussions to Filipino anime fans who still mourn the loss of local anime channel Hero. At the time it was taken off the air, Toonami was broadcasting the ongoing ‘Dragon Ball Super’ series which has yet to be launched on Filipino free TV.

It remains to be seen if Cartoon Network will be able to revive the Toonami primetime block to accommodate its displaced programs. But for anime fans who are looking for other ways to watch their favorite programs, there are other options such as cable channels Animax and AniPlus, as well as anime streaming websites.

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cartoon, entertainment, Philippines, television

Pokemon Returns to GMA, But…

A new season of Pokemon will be airing on GMA. However, it only adds to a weak morning lineup for the Kapuso network.

A program teaser was released by GMA earlier this morning to announce that the long-running anime Pokemon will return for a new season. The program is scheduled to replace YuYu Hakusho, better known to Filipinos as ‘Ghost Fighter’, in its timeslot. The program will also be dubbed in Filipino, as it was the case for the past few seasons.

While GMA will air a new season of Pokemon, I believe it was a definite shame to bring it back. Why? Because I never liked its editing and Filipino dubbing, even if GMA wanted it for the sake of ‘illiterate’ audiences. I liked it better when the show aired on Cartoon Network and Toonami in its original English dub. Just ask Ash, he seems more comfortable speaking in English than in Filipino. As it stands, I hope that Pokemon will be beat up by the poorly-edited ‘Mr. Bean‘ on ABS-CBN, whether GMA executives like it or not.

To be honest, the addition of Pokemon only worsens GMA’s morning lineup. Dragon Ball and Mojacko, since they have been airing repeatedly, have always been beaten by the more interesting lifestyle program ‘Kris TV‘. And while ‘One Piece’ and ‘Bleach’ continue to air with new seasons opposite ABS-CBN’s own anime, GMA’s repeat anime programs will always be a weak link. And Pokemon, despite the confirmation of a new season, is also worthy of being a weak link.

Sorry Pokemon fans, but this anime does not deserve to air on the Kapuso network, even if it has committed to do so since 1998. I would rather see this program on ABS-CBN, where better dubbers and editing skills can be useful to this anime.

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cartoon, entertainment, Philippines, television

Ghost Fighter Again?

The first volume of the Yū Yū Hakusho Original...

For the hundredth time, GMA 7 airs YuYu Hakusho, emphasizing the fact that they’re short of funds in acquiring new anime titles. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

During the early morning, while watching  Doraemon, I saw GMA‘s plug for its early morning Anime programs and noticed that they brought back YuYu Hakusho (Ghost Fighter) to its rotation replacing Dragon Ball Z Kai. I’m getting too old for this. Why would they insist on re-airing this classic anime over and over again? It’s been aired repeatedly over a thousand times, can’t they move on and acquire new properties?

For those who didn’t know the story, YuYu Hakusho tells the story of a young junior high student named Eugene. He met his allies Alfred and Dennis (originally a female named Denise) along the way while feuding and later befriending Vincent. He also had a love interest named Jenny while Sherlene and Master Jerico became his confidants early in his adventures. Throughout the story he would be mentored by Master Jeremiah in an effort to defeat various villains, including his main adversary Toguro. His main weapon is the Ray Gun.

YuYu Hakusho, better known as Ghost Fighter in the Philippines, first aired on IBC-13 in the mid-1990s. In 1998 the rights for the anime were acquired by GMA 7 and was first aired at the height of the genre’s popularity in the country. It has been re-aired on a semi-frequent basis since.

For the nth time, GMA 7’s fortunes were focused mostly on producing elaborate teleseryes, top-notch live shows, and high-quality news programs. Which means acquiring new anime titles have been few and far between. ABS-CBN, for the most part, has been able to air new titles courtesy of its Hero channel, which is a subsidiary of the network, while TV5 has collaborated with Disney Channel, Toonami and Cartoon Network to air those network’s programs. As for GMA, they have little funds to allocate for new anime and other related programming, considering that their audience during the 8:00-10:00 a.m. timeframe is shrinking due to competition from cable networks.

With that in mind, GMA is definitely the one suffering. Without sufficient support from other companies (ABS-CBN and TV5 are owned by conglomerates), GMA 7 will continue to scramble for its early morning audience, if not the entire day’s audience. Reairing YuYu Hakusho and other past anime won’t help their cause; they would have to find a way to air another program in its slot.

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