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FTT Year 2016 in Review: The 20 Stories That Define the Year in Media (Part II)

Another year is about to end. But before the calendar flips to 2017, here is a look back at the year that was in television and radio. This article looks back at the 20 moments that define the Philippine media this year.

If you missed out on Part I of this series, click on the highlighted link for more information.

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

The End of Kris TV

‘Kris TV’ had been an early morning staple for nearly five years. With Kris Aquino at the helm, ‘Kris TV’ became one of the most enduring talk shows of the decade, and despite all the criticisms and low ratings thrown at them, ABS-CBN kept the faith on both Kris and the show itself.

But on March 23, Kris Aquino made a stunning announcement that she will officially bid farewell due to her recent health issues. As it turned out, this was ‘Kris TV”s last original episode, with the show continuing to air reruns until April 15, before it was replaced by ‘Magandang Buhay’.

Since then, Kris appeared as a guest on rival GMA talk show ‘Yan ang Morning’, and was scheduled to interview President Rodrigo Duterte in November until the latter no-showed due to illness.

News5 Loses Men to Duterte

Speaking of President Duterte, his cabinet featured a select number of former News5 anchors and reporters. This included PCOO chief Martin Andanar, DOT spokesperson Cherie Mercado, and assistant secretary for media relations Mia Reyes.

With the departure of numerous on-air staff, News5 was forced to implement new measures such as solo anchors on select ‘Aksyon’ newscasts. Unfortunately, it did not mitigate the damage that News5 endured this year, so much so that its head Luchi Cruz-Valdes even contemplated on relinquishing her post in favor of a cabinet position, a rumor that was eventually quashed.

However, this was not the only problem that TV5 faced this year.

Dissolution of TV5’s Entertainment Department

Late last year, TV5 reached out to VIVA Entertainment head Vic del Rosario to reinvigorate its entertainment division. The end result of this collaboration included shows such as ‘Ang Panday’, ‘Bakit Manipis ang Ulap’, ‘Born to Be a Star’ and ‘Tasya Fantasya’.

Unfortunately, none of VIVA’s shows clicked, with questionable scheduling and low ratings to blame for the issues. As a result, new TV5 head Chot Reyes had no choice but to start over, dissolving TV5’s entertainment division, and cutting ties with VIVA in September.

For now, TV5 airs TV shopping blocks, Tagalized canned programs and movies, News5 shows and the PBA, while waiting for Chot Reyes to renovate the station from within.

The Rebirth of CNN Philippines

Last year, CNN Philippines was heavily criticized for its revolving door of anchors, a penchant for airing HLN and CNN International shows, and a lack of commitment towards breaking news. Enter Armie Jarin-Bennett, a CNN International veteran who decided to give CNN Philippines an extreme makeover.

Within a year since her entry, CNN Philippines transformed itself into a force in the world of journalism almost overnight. New locally flavored shows were introduced, and newly-hired hosts and anchors such as Pinky Webb, Ruth Cabal, Andrei Felix and Anthony Pangilinan were brought in.

The end result is a positively-reviewed news organization which now strives to tell the story of the Filipino, as evidenced by the network’s highly-praised coverage of the vice presidential debates.

PTV-4’s Revitalization and IBC-13’s Sale, as Promised by President Duterte

Upon assuming office on June 30, President Rodrigo Duterte promised sweeping changes for the country. None was more evident than in the two networks that are owned by the government: PTV-4 and IBC-13.

President Duterte’s plan for PTV-4 is to become a public service network in the mold of the PBS in the U.S. and the BBC in the U.K. As for IBC-13, his objective is to sell the network to private investors for P10 billion, with the eye towards revitalizing its seemingly moribund programming.

While the proposals will take some time, one can only hope that the two networks will soon return to form as the country’s respective government and general entertainment station.

Part III of this four-part series is coming up this Thursday. Stay tuned.

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TV5 A Wreck Under the MVP Ownership

Manny V. Pangilinan’s ambitious ventures turned out to be disastrous for TV5, and the network is now on an identity crisis. (Photo credit: Philstar.com)

Any improvement on TV5 is now an impossible dream.

In just two weeks, TV5 went from being a promising station to a shell of its former self. Even sister station AksyonTV is feeling the sting of TV5’s seeming downfall.

Much of the blame is centered on its owner, Manny V. Pangilinan. The businessman known as MVP purchased TV5 back in 2010 and was promised to improve the station in a few years’ time.

But instead of upgrading its signal strength and nationwide reach (a weakness of the then-ABC 5 during the ownership of Tonyboy Cojuangco), Pangilinan chose to revamp TV5’s programming and facilities in order to better compete with ABS-CBN and GMA. Unfortunately, MVP’s ambitious moves did not result in immediate success, and TV5 soon encountered turbulence.

TV5 first tried to form its own stable of artists (mostly veterans like Sharon Cuneta and Willie Revillame), and produced some programs that could have given ABS-CBN and GMA a run for their money. It failed, and not even the intervention of Vic del Rosario and VIVA Entertainment made a difference.

The Kapatid network then acquired the broadcast rights to some big-name sporting events (e.g. PBA, Olympics, FIBA World Cup) and even managed to strike a blocktime deal with IBC-13 (named AKTV) to aid in his quest. However, AKTV was a financial failure, and Sports5 had no choice but to air them on TV5 and AksyonTV, which proved to be detrimental to both networks.

Next in TV5’s agenda was the improvement of its news division, thus the establishment of AksyonTV and Radyo5 92.3 News FM. Despite the numerous awards given to them, News5 was criticized for its overemphasis on tabloid-style news reporting, as well as mismanagement from within.

Finally, TV5 invested in the satellite subscription service Cignal, and by 2015, it reached its target of 1 million subscribers. Still, its channel lineup remains paltry in comparison to its older cable competitor SkyCable.

Overall, the attempt to turn TV5 into a broadcast giant in the mold of ABS-CBN and GMA turned out to be a failure. Today, their programming as a whole is back to what the Cojuangco-era ABC 5 used to air, with a lot of TV shopping blocks, imported programming and movies, and in the case of Radyo5 92.3 News FM, too many vacant slots.

Now that TV5 is back to where they started, what will be the next move for MVP? Having wasted a lot of money making some ambitious yet unsuccessful ventures, it’s about time for his network to tear down and start over, or else the inevitability of bankruptcy or sale will soon hang over his head.

The next move starts now, MVP. Do the right thing and save TV5 from collapse.

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ABS-CBN Welcomes an Abrenica

Turns out there will be an Abrenica on ABS-CBN after all.

However, the Abrenica referred here is not Aljur. Instead, younger brother Vin Abrenica, a fellow reality talent search show winner (via TV5’s ‘Artista Academy’), jumped ship to ABS-CBN.

Just recently, a contract signing took place that signaled Vin Abrenica’s entry into the Kapamilya network. Though he already appeared in the legal drama anthology ‘Ipaglaban Mo’ last October, his first actual project with ABS-CBN will be on ‘Maalaala Mo Kaya’, where he will be paired with Jessy Mendiola in a future episode.

Prior to ABS-CBN, Vin Abrenica was a TV5 talent for three years. After winning ‘Artista Academy’, Vin appeared in several TV5 shows, but his future with the network became in doubt as soon as VIVA’s Vic del Rosario took over TV5’s entertainment department.

The entry of Vin Abrenica to ABS-CBN caught many by surprise. Back when older brother Aljur was in a contract mess with GMA two years ago, there was a lot of talk of him joining ABS-CBN to further hone his talents.

After all, it was ABS-CBN who had a reputation of turning struggling former Kapuso talents into certified stars. Names like Cristine Reyes, Paulo Avelino, Angel Locsin, Jake Cuenca and Iza Calzado came to ABS-CBN after years of service to GMA, and with the help of talent guru Johnny Manahan, their stars are now shining brighter than ever.

However, Aljur Abrenica and GMA decided to patch their differences, and today Aljur remains as visible as ever on the Kapuso network. Currently he appears in ‘Once Again’, where he is paired alongside Janine Gutierrez.

Imagine if Aljur decided to go to ABS-CBN instead of reconciling with GMA. His waning star would have been rekindled under the watchful eyes of Johnny Manahan.

As it stands, however, he is back with GMA, but unfortunately for him, it was not a sweet reunion so far. Since premiering in mid-May, ‘Once Again’ has been struggling to keep up with ‘Dolce Amore’, who were led by Enrique Gil and Liza Soberano.

Hopefully the story will be different for younger brother Vin. Now that he’s on ABS-CBN, Vin is poised to ascend much further than his brother, but it remains to be seen if he is indeed a good fit.

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With Rainy Season Underway, TV5 Still Needs Improvement and Continuity

Tagalized American shows such as ‘Smallville’ will take over TV5’s weeknight programming for now, as they prepare for the 2016 Rio Olympics coverage. (Publicity photo courtesy of TV5)

It’s back to zero for TV5.

As May turned into June, the Kapatid network management decided to make a lot of changes in their programming lineup. Unfortunately, those alterations turned a once-promising network into a troublesome one, full of questionable decisions that are not worthy of its status as a ‘Big Three’ network.

Just imagine this. Would anyone accept a network that airs TV shopping in the morning, cartoons and/or sporting events in the afternoon, and Tagalized American series or movies at night?

Obviously, no one. In essence, this is still TV5 a.k.a. the Kapatid Network, yet its programming is now similar to ABC 5 in its final few years.

The entry of Vic del Rosario’s VIVA group was supposed to rejuvenate TV5’s flagging entertainment group, but it didn’t happen. The first wave of programs came and went, with no replacements whatsoever.

VIVA’s problems were aplenty, such as the presence of the PBA and other sporting events, and TV5’s lack of reach in other areas. Clearly, there is still a lot of work to do, but for the moment, they are no longer involved in the programming.

So what did TV5 do? Click the link to the network’s official website, and one will be very surprised on what the schedules look like now.

But for those not in the mood, here are the lowlights:

  • EZ Shop and Shop Japan replaces Boomerang on TV5 block, with the latter now airing on weekday afternoons
  • Tagalized American series (e.g. ‘Arrow’, ‘Supernatural’) dominate weeknights
  • Tagalized foreign movies remain a constant presence, but on weekends, they now extend to primetime
  • ‘Outcast’, a American suspense series, replaces ‘MTV Top 20 Pilipinas’ and will be dubbed in Filipino
  • ‘Sports360’ is shelved for now

For many, these moves are not smart, but TV5’s intention is clear. With the 2016 Summer Olympics only two months away, there is little time for VIVA’s programming to make their presence felt, and thus, TV5 needs to air some temporary fill-ins while waiting for their Olympic coverage to begin.

Still, the lack of improvement and continuity remains a problem for TV5. It’s been six years since Manny V. Pangilinan took over, yet the story remains the same.

When will they finally learn? No one knows, but one thing’s for sure: expect the unexpected from TV5.

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TV5/VIVA Partnership Updates

‘Tasya Fantasya’ is one of several TV5 and VIVA-produced programs lined up this year. (Photo credit: TV5)

The partnership between TV5 and VIVA Entertainment is off to a flying start.

Four programs will highlight the first few months of the TV5/VIVA collaboration. They are: ‘Born to Be a Star’, ‘Ang Panday’, ‘Tasya Fantasya’, and ‘Bakit Manipis ang Ulap?’.

‘Born to Be a Star’ is VIVA’s latest attempt in discovering future talents. Premiering February 6, the talent search show will be hosted by Ogie Alcasid, alongside Yassi Pressman and Mark Bautista.

Judges for ‘Born to Be a Star’ are Pops Fernandez, Aiza Seguerra, Andrew E and Christian Bautista. The show held auditions recently, with the hope of finding the most promising voices in the country.

‘Ang Panday’, starring Richard Gutierrez, is the latest made-for-TV adaptation of the Carlo J. Caparas classic. It will also star Bangs Garcia, Alonzo Muhlach, Regine Tolentino, Jack Reid, Christopher de Leon and Jasmine Curtis-Smith, with its premiere date still to be determined.

‘Ang Panday’ is no stranger to both film and television. Fernando Poe, Jr., Bong Revilla and Janno Gibbs have starred in the film adaptations, while Jericho Rosales starred in the TV adaptation that ABS-CBN once aired.

‘Bakit Manipis ang Ulap?’ marks the return of Claudine Barretto to teleserye genre in nearly a decade. The upcoming series is a made-for-TV remake of the 1985 film starring Chanda Romero, Tommy Abuel and Janice de Belen.

Also included in ‘Bakit Manipis ang Ulap?’ are Cesar Montano, Meg Imperial, Diether Ocampo, Dindi Gallardo, Roxanne Barcelo, Samantha Lopez, Bernard Palanca, Janelle Jamer, Bret Jackson, Issa Pressman, Mariel de Leon and Nathalie Colipano. The series is scheduled to premiere February 15.

And finally, ‘Tasya Fantasya’ will introduce viewers to budding VIVA star Shy Carlos. Like ‘Panday’, it was created by Carlo J. Caparas, and has also been made into a film and TV series, starring Kris Aquino and Yasmien Kurdi respectively.

‘Tasya Fantasya’ will also star Mark Neumann in his latest project for the network. Also included in the series, which premieres February 6, are AJ Muhlach, Ara Mina, John Lapus, Candy Pangilinan, Donnalyn Bartolome, Giselle Sanchez, Malak So, Arvic Romero, Jasmine Hollingworth, and Kim Molina.

Aside from the programs, VIVA and TV5’s satellite TV affiliate Cignal also joined forces in the launch of the Sari-Sari Network. The said channel features purely entertainment content, and also handles production responsibilities for TV5’s entertainment group.

It will be a very busy period for Vic del Rosario and company as far as content is concerned. That said, it’s up to TV5 to try and make an impact this year.

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FTT’s Opening Salvo for 2016

It will be a very busy 2016 for media networks in the Philippines.

This year is an election year, and this one will decide the fate of the presidency of the Philippines. ABS-CBN, TV5 and GMA, along with several minor players, will be on hand to cover the five-month period of conviction and decision, leading to the national elections on May 9, and finally to the inauguration on June 30.

The question is, will CNN Philippines, GMA News TV and AksyonTV be busy enough for the grind of the elections? The three news networks have had a rough outing last year, with only ANC and DZMM TeleRadyo continuing to showcase their usual journalistic excellence, and unless they prove the critics wrong on election day, they will endure yet another showering of boos.

On the entertainment side, this is where GMA needs to make a statement (yet again). Even though ‘Eat Bulaga’ and AlDub grabbed the headlines during the second half of 2015, the rest of GMA’s programming, talents and staff still leave a lot to be desired, and if GMA were to be competitive and financially strong, they need more than just AlDub to survive.

Over at TV5, they are making a fresh start with a new ally. Viva Entertainment head Vic del Rosario is now leading the network’s entertainment unit, and he hopes to make an impact with new shows that could reenergize the Kapatid network’s stagnant and unpredictable programming.

As for ABS-CBN, there’s no need for a forecast. Barring any possibility of overconfidence and complacency, this should be another successful year for the Kapamilya network, with new shows featuring both established and rising stars on the menu.

Sports programming suffered a big blow when ABS-CBN-operated Balls signed off for good last year. That said, there will be big shoes to fill for the remaining sports networks in the country, particularly TV5’s Hyper and ABS-CBN Sports+Action, as they scramble for rights to some of the events that Balls covered.

FM’s 90.7 Love Radio remained dominant last year, as are DZMM and DZBB on the AM band. Closing in on the top radio stations will once again be a very tough act for the rest of the field this year, especially with the possibility of a rebrand and a change in personnel looming for those who couldn’t keep up.

And finally, as always, the endless questions of IBC-13’s planned privatization (or closure) will continue to surface this year. The question of when, who and how will once again permeate curious viewers, as the fate of the embattled station remains a mystery even with the change of administration.

This should be an interesting year ahead, and From the Tube will be there to cover every step of the way. Good luck.

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