news, Philippines, politics, public affairs, television

Finally: ABS-CBN Newscasts Move to High Definition

Here is some good news for Kapamilya viewers.

On Easter Sunday, April 1, newscasts on ABS-CBN Channel 2 began to air on 16:9 high definition. The conversion began with the 10:00 a.m. ‘News Patrol’, followed by the network’s flagship newscasts ‘TV Patrol’ (both weekend and weeknight editions) and ‘Bandila’ (both DZMM TeleRadyo and ABS-CBN editions).

Here is a comparison of ‘News Patrol’ in standard definition (pre-April 1) and in high definition (since April 1) in the following videos.

News Patrol in 4:3 standard definition (courtesy of ABS-CBN News)

News Patrol in 16:9 high definition (courtesy of ABS-CBN News)

The full implementation of ABS-CBN newscasts in HD marked the latest step in the network’s ongoing conversion to this new television technology. However, the changeover was not an easy one.

When ABS-CBN launched its 16:9 high definition feed in October 2015, only its entertainment programs were able to adopt this new technology. As such, ABS-CBN News programs remained in 4:3 standard definition, and whenever it was shown on ABS-CBN HD, black pillarboxes can be seen.

However, the news division was given a glimmer of hope in March 2016 when the ABS-CBN News Channel premiered its own HD feed. This enabled ABS-CBN News to utilize some of its newly-purchased HD cameras for live reports.

Despite that, Channel 2’s newscasts remained in 4:3 SD, mainly to compensate for the regional outlets’ slow adoption to HD technology. But as the impending switch to high definition became imminent, ABS-CBN realized the need for a change.

Thus came the launch of ABS-CBN’s high definition newscasts on Easter Sunday. It was an odd move to say the least, but it was perfect timing for the network since its news operations on television and radio resume around this time.

As mentioned earlier, ‘News Patrol’, ‘TV Patrol’ and ‘Bandila’ are now seen in 16:9 high definition, but they are not the only newscasts that made the move. Even DZMM TeleRadyo’s ‘Headline Pilipinas’ was also converted to 16:9 HD.

But not all newscasts changed over to the new standard. ‘TV Patrol”s regional versions continue to air in 4:3 SD, as are a majority of ABS-CBN Regional programs and even DZMM TeleRadyo.

Still, there is plenty of time for ABS-CBN to implement the new high definition standard to DZMM and the network’s regional affiliates. But for now, enjoy watching ‘TV Patrol’, ‘Bandila’ and all ABS-CBN newscasts in crystal clear 16:9 HD.

ABS-CBN HD is available exclusively on SkyCable channel 167 and to premium access subscribers on iWant TV. ANC HD is available exclusively on SkyCable channel 182 and to premium access subscribers on iWant TV.

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Ika-6 na Utos to End This Saturday, But Not Without Controversy

‘Ika-6 na Utos’ is down to its last six episodes.

That’s right, the series is really down to its last six episodes. Unlike typical teleseryes whose finales end on a Friday (or Wednesday if it falls during Holy Week), ‘Ika-6 na Utos’ will air its last episode this Saturday, an unusual yet satisfying way to end such a successful series.

To cut the long story short, ‘Ika-6 na Utos’ first aired on December 5, 2016, extended to Saturdays starting April 1, 2017, and by August became the highest-rated afternoon teleserye in the country. In doing so, ‘Ika-6 na Utos’ joined ‘The Half-Sisters’ as the only GMA teleseryes to air for over a year this decade.

But in the lead-up to its final few episodes, controversy sparked between ‘Ika-6 na Utos’ and ABS-CBN’s ‘It’s Showtime’. When the latter (whether intentional or not) decided to extend its running time to 3 hours and 30 minutes, GMA responded by having ‘Ika-6 na Utos’ air for another 30 minutes.

Consequently, the extended airtime between the two programs pushed its primetime newscasts to air at a later-than-expected time. Both ‘TV Patrol’ and ’24 Oras’ now air at around 6:40 p.m., largely due to the brewing rivalry between ‘Ika-6 na Utos’ and ‘It’s Showtime’.

It was clear that ‘Ika-6 na Utos’ was having ‘It’s Showtime”s number. So much so that ABS-CBN, whether intentional or not, went all-out in an attempt to dispose a teleserye they couldn’t solve, even going as far as allowing Vice Ganda plenty more time to talk on the microphone during ‘Tawag ng Tanghalan’.

But regardless of this controversy, ‘Ika-6 na Utos’ provided a moral victory for GMA. While its other programs continuously fail to make an impact against its ABS-CBN counterparts, ‘Ika-6 na Utos’ gave GMA some semblance of hope.

This is proof that ABS-CBN, no matter how dominant it is, still has some weaknesses in its arsenal. And ‘Ika-6 na Utos’ was one of them.

This Saturday will mark the 383rd and final episode of ‘Ika-6 na Utos’. It will be interesting to see how this convoluted love story between Rome (Gabby Concepcion), Emma (Sunshine Dizon) and Georgia (Ryza Cenon) turn out to be, and whether or not the first two will enjoy a satisfying conclusion.

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New Trend: GMA Responds to It’s Showtime Going Overtime

Looks like a new trend in primetime newscasts has begun.

In response to ‘TV Patrol’ now airing at around 6:40 p.m. due to ‘It’s Showtime’ exceeding beyond its allotted time, GMA countered by having rival newscast ’24 Oras’ air 10-20 minutes later than its previous timeslot. To do that, GMA intentionally allowed one of its programs to go past its duration.

That turned out to be the teleserye ‘Ika-6 na Utos’, which usually airs for only 45-50 minutes at best. But Wednesday afternoon (see episode hashtag below) saw ‘Ika-6 na Utos’ go beyond its usual running time and air for 80 minutes, uncharacteristically long for a teleserye.

GMA’s version of Vice Ganda and company excessively talking for minutes came by way of long commercial breaks. But much like what ABS-CBN allowed (whether intentional or not) ‘It’s Showtime’ to do, isn’t this a little too much for viewers to take?

Consider this: ‘It’s Showtime”s archrival ‘Eat Bulaga’ is only given 2 1/2 hours of airtime by GMA from Monday to Friday due to its blocktimer status. GMA can’t obviously loosen this rule because even Antonio Tuviera is strict enough to enforce such a ruling.

They also cannot allow ‘Wowowin’ to go past its allotted time and go live because of Willie Revillame’s past controversies. The onus fell on one of GMA’s afternoon teleseryes, and that turned out to be its highest-rated program ‘Ika-6 na Utos’.

This is definitely a bad case of ‘fight fire with fire’. The recent shenanigans of ABS-CBN and GMA dragged its other programs down, and it also affected the airtimes of the respective networks’ late-night newscasts in ‘Bandila’ and ‘Saksi’.

If this game of one-upsmanship continues, both ‘TV Patrol’ and ’24 Oras’ might end up airing at an uncharacteristically late timeslot of 7:00 p.m. Not a good way to kick off the primetime slate.

But at least there are earlier primetime newscasts that viewers can tune in to. The choices include PTV-4’s ‘PTV News’ (if viewers can tolerate Erwin Tulfo’s biased reporting), CNN Philippines’ ‘News Night’, Net 25’s ‘Mata ng Agila’, UNTV’s ‘Ito ang Balita’ and even ‘Top Story’ of the ABS-CBN News Channel.

Apologies to T5N’s ‘Aksyon Prime’, but its timeslot inconsistencies are too much to handle. But regardless of that, alternatives in primetime news are worth the time and money.

Still, ABS-CBN and GMA should know all too well that time is precious. They could at least adjust this new trend in primetime programming, but they need to stop allowing its programs to go overtime so as not to compromise the patience of viewers.

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It’s Showtime Going Overtime Not a Good Sign for ABS-CBN

Overtime has become a trend for ‘It’s Showtime’ of late.

The ABS-CBN noontime show normally runs for three hours at best. But in recent episodes, ‘It’s Showtime’ went beyond that allotted time duration and ended up lasting for another 20-30 minutes (see most recent episode video below).

As a result, the rest of ABS-CBN’s lineup wound up airing at a later timeslot than they usually do. Not a good sign for a network that prides itself for excellence and consistency from morning till night.

Take for instance, ‘TV Patrol’. ABS-CBN’s flagship newscast usually begins at 6:28 p.m., but because of ‘It’s Showtime”s extended run, it was now pushed to 6:45 p.m.

While its ratings were not affected at the moment, many feared that the late start of ‘TV Patrol’ could push more viewers to switch to GMA’s ’24 Oras’. And worse, the longer-than-expected run of ‘It’s Showtime’ could give GMA Afternoon Prime (or at a lesser extent ‘Eat Bulaga’) a much-improved spike in its ratings.

‘Tawag ng Tanghalan’ may be ‘It’s Showtime”s most popular segment right now (and the one that essentially ended AlDub as a formidable tandem), but the unnecessary banter could drag the noontime show’s viewership down. And the fact that ‘Tawag ng Tanghalan’ runs opposite ‘Ika-6 na Utos’ is perhaps the biggest concern coming out of ABS-CBN management.

No offense to Vice Ganda and company, but the trio of Sunshine Dizon, Ryza Cenon and Gabby Concepcion is having ‘It’s Showtime”s number, particularly once ‘Tawag ng Tanghalan’ takes place. One thing ABS-CBN would like to do is to eliminate most of the talking and focus solely on the singing itself in order to save a lot of time and viewers.

In doing so, ‘It’s Showtime’ will return to its normal three-hour duration and perhaps add motivation to a struggling Kapamilya Gold. Not only that, ‘TV Patrol’ will be able to start on time and save whatever grace it has left.

But the decision to reduce some of the talk on ‘Tawag ng Tanghalan’ will only depend on management convincing Vice Ganda and company to lessen all the banter. Which is not an easy thing to do considering Vice’s mass appeal.

Still, preventing the inevitable loss of viewership is a must for ABS-CBN, particularly when it comes to ‘It’s Showtime’. They may be the No. 1 network in the country ratings-wise, but even ABS-CBN has its own weaknesses that needs to be addressed.

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Erich X 3: The Blood Sisters on ABS-CBN Starting Monday

If two-in-one is not enough, why not three-in-one.

This is exactly what ABS-CBN will look to do starting this Monday when Erich Gonzales portrays three different characters in ‘The Blood Sisters’. But for older viewers, an actor playing a trio of characters is nothing new.

During the late 1990s, another Kapamilya drama pulled the same stunt when ‘Saan Ka Man Naroroon’ saw Claudine Barretto play three characters of differing personas. Considering the difficulty of this maneuver, the three-in-one storyline was rarely replicated, until now.

In ‘The Blood Sisters’, Erich is the one in three-in-one. First, she is Erika, a bar dancer and a doting mother whose profession keeps her son alive amid his battle with a chronic illness.

A gruesome murder at the bar leads to a chase that nearly costs Erika’s life. Along the way, however, she finds out that she has two twin sisters: Carrie and Agatha, both of whom will be crucial in realizing the truth about their upbringing.

The triplets were raised by a surrogate mother and were separated after an agreement their parents made fell through. Once they reunite, they will look to find the truth amid the dangers in their lives.

Also part of ‘The Blood Sisters’ are Enchong Dee, Ejay Falcon, AJ Muhlach, Cherry Pie Picache, Dina Bonnievie, Jestoni Alarcon, Ruby Ruiz, and Pamu Pamorada. It will be directed by Jojo Saguin and is under the production of Dreamscape Entertainment.

For Erich Gonzales, the 5:45 slot is nothing new to her, having previously starred in ‘Katorse’ and ‘Tanging Yaman’. But ‘The Blood Sisters’ is drastically different from all the previous dramas she participated in, as it will mark the entry of a more sexier and sultrier Erich.

Considering how ‘Wildflower’ raised expectations for the said timeslot, the bar is definitely much higher for ‘The Blood Sisters’ to scale. Still, it remains to be seen if a new-look Erich Gonzales will deliver the same if not better-than-impressive ratings for her new drama as she did a few years ago.

The floor is now hers to take. Good luck.

‘The Blood Sisters’ airs weeknights before ‘TV Patrol’ on ABS-CBN Primetime Bida.

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GMA’s Own 5:00 P.M. Regional Programming Issue

ABS-CBN is not the only major television network with a regional programming problem.

Archrival GMA also endures its fair share of issues when it comes to regional programs. Similar to what ABS-CBN experiences, GMA’s biggest concern is at the 5:00 p.m. slot where regional news programs are aired in the provinces in lieu of shows relayed straight from Metro Manila.

Just last Monday, GMA’s Mindanao-based channels began to air a new regional newscast titled ‘One Mindanao’. The program is anchored by longtime Mindanao-based GMA anchors Tek Ocampo, Sarah Hilomen-Velasco and Real Soroche, and is aired on weekdays at 5:00 p.m.

Like ‘Balitang Amianan’ (Dagupan and Ilocos) and ‘Balitang Bisdak’ (Cebu), ‘One Mindanao’ preempts the first 30-40 minutes of ‘Wowowin’, the GMA afternoon game show hosted by Willie Revillame. But as far as GMA is concerned, this was just a minor inconvenience.

Consider the following factors:

  1. Most GMA regional networks are now mere relay outlets following the closure of most stations and the layoff of its employees.
  2. ‘Wowowin’ is still aired after the newscasts, thus no need to reair the show the following morning.
  3. ‘Wowowin’ more often than not beats an ABS-CBN Koreanovela (only a few relay areas receive such programs due to regional ‘TV Patrol’) in the ratings game regardless of either Kantar or AGB Nielsen.

With that in mind, it was clear to GMA that they are undeterred about the overall programming disparity between Greater Manila Area and regional areas. However, with the entry of ‘One Mindanao’ in the Mindanao area, they now have every reason to worry since ‘Wowowin”s audience will be reduced significantly.

Issues among ABS-CBN and GMA’s regional network programs are in dire need of a resolution. The 5:00 p.m. slot, usually a haven for regional networks to produce their newscasts, is one example of what each network needs to do to make things all the more parallel.

But since GMA currently has less regional stations than ABS-CBN, their own concern may be revisited once they decide to resuscitate some of these stations. For now, GMA can only hope that their regional networks’ standing will be improved with each step.

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