news, Philippines, politics, public affairs, television

Revisiting GMA News TV and Its Epic Failures on SONA Day

This is already becoming a habit.

For GMA News TV, their perceived indifference in important news coverage is undeniable. This was none more apparent than on the day the President of the Philippines delivers his State of the Nation Address.

In almost every year since the network rebranded from QTV in 2011, the tendency for GMA News TV is that they don’t always get involved in the SONA in more ways than one. Whenever the fourth Monday of July comes, all the network does is to air regular programming as if nothing important happens.

For instance, President Rodrigo Duterte’s speech this year started at 5:17 p.m. In the meantime, GMA News TV aired ‘Quick Response Team’ in the midst of the SONA (see video below).

It is understandable that GMA management wants to focus more on Channel 7 when it comes to live coverage of the SONA. But what the management do not realize is the overall purpose of GMA News TV (and of GMA News for that matter), which in the years since its launch has been largely neglected due to extracurricular activities not related to news coverage.

Considering that its rivals from Mother Ignacia (ANC/DZMM TeleRadyo), Shaw Boulevard (CNN Philippines) and Reliance (One News) worked a more extensive analysis on the day of the SONA, it is disgraceful to see GMA News TV stand pat and do almost nothing. It is as if they never wanted to be a news channel in the first place.

Perhaps if GMA News TV becomes a cable channel instead of going to free TV like they do now, such issues would have been mitigated. Such an arrangement would have allowed the channel to go 24/7, use English as the main language and cater to upper class audiences.

Unfortunately, the station is stuck on VHF channel 11 and can only play second banana to channel 7, another VHF station. And to make matters worse, GMA doesn’t even own the former due to broadcast restrictions; ZOE continues to own the channel while GMA only leases airtime.

If they are really that disinterested to remain a news channel, they can just rebrand back to QTV or become GMA+, a secondary entertainment channel of the mother network. Or GMA can just break their lease on Channel 11 and allow ZOE to move Light back to its original channel.

In many ways, GMA News TV is an undependable channel for all things news. What GMA did to this channel is so unglorifying that their boasting as the ‘no. 1 news channel’ does not make sense at all.

And on this SONA day, this channel simply failed to deliver when it mattered most. Shame on them.

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1995 Flashback: The Rise and Fall of Citynet 27

Citynet 27 was the first UHF station owned by a major broadcast network. Sadly, the station lasted only six years and endured three major rebrands during that span. (Logo courtesy of GMA Network)

1995 was a memorable year in Philippine television. As part of a year-long special, From the Tube will look back at a year full of historical debuts, unforgettable moments, and celebrated feats in the history of television in the country.

ABS-CBN’s UHF TV network (currently ABS-CBN Sports+Action) has been on the air since 1996, but they’re not the first major network to have a sister UHF channel.

That distinction belonged to GMA Network’s original sister TV station, Citynet 27.  Established on August 27, 1995, the station became the fifth UHF TV network in the country, after SBN-21, DZEE-23 (the predecessor to ABS-CBN’s UHF channel), RJTV-29 and CTV-31.

Citynet 27’s initial focus was on canned programming (mostly from the U.S.), ranging from sitcoms, dramas and action series to sporting events. These programs were moved from GMA-7 in order for the latter to add more local programming.

The channel soon faced intense competition with the launch of Studio 23. While Citynet remained the premiere source for upscale-laden programs, it became clear that GMA is losing money from this venture, and by 1999, Studio 23’s continued emergence and popularity prove to be too much for Citynet to handle.

As a result, GMA had no choice but to reformat Citynet 27 into a music video channel. Initially known as EMC (Entertainment Music Channel), GMA soon joined forces with STAR TV to carry Channel V Philippines, and the rebranded station was launched near the end of 1999.

However, the partial acquisition of GMA’s stake by PLDT (later re-sold to Felipe Gozon, etc.) forced Channel V Philippines to sign off in mid-2001. Among the primary reasons include conflict of interest (PLDT owned MTV Philippines through Nation Broadcasting Company) and increasing competition with MTVPH and the newly-launched MYX.

GMA was left without a sister channel for the next four years. Then in 2005, they entered into a lease agreement with ZOE-TV and launched QTV (later rebranded as GMA News TV), with Channel 27 briefly serving as a repeater.

Today, DWDB 27 is currently inactive, possibly for future use as a digital TV outlet. The station would have turned 20 this year had GMA kept it active.

To this day, GMA continues to regret its failed experiment of Citynet 27. With the network now enduring some financial issues, they can only hope that the lessons of Citynet 27 will be applied to whatever decisions they will make moving forward.

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entertainment, news, Philippines, public affairs, religion, television

In 100 Words: The Old ZOE TV Station ID

The station ID of ZOE TV Channel 11 never gets old.

Debuting upon the said station’s launch in 1998, it later earned a reputation as one of the longest-running station IDs in Philippine television. Even as ZOE changed programming lineups for the next seven years, this station ID still ran before every program aired on the said network.

ZOE kept the SID with them when they moved to Channel 33 in the mid-2000s. But by the time Channel 33 was renamed the Light Network, the usage of this SID became increasingly rare, and by 2014, it was essentially replaced by a new SID for Light Network.

Still, there is no denying the nostalgia surrounding ZOE TV’s original station ID. It may be overlooked by the station IDs of the network giants, but it definitely belongs among the best in Philippine television.

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Superbook Now on ABS-CBN. Will The 700 Club Follow Suit?

‘Superbook”s Gizmo poses at the ABS-CBN Broadcasting Center in Quezon City. (Photo credit: CBN Asia)

Young and old ‘Superbook’ fans must be surprised to see ‘Superbook’ on ABS-CBN. After all, the religious cartoon has been airing on GMA for seemingly like forever.

But in a strange twist of fate, CBN Asia, distributors of ‘Superbook’, decided to sign a deal with ABS-CBN to air the classic and revived editions of the program. Both versions started airing on the Kapamilya network on the weekend of July 12.

‘Superbook’, along with sister series ‘The Flying House’, were staples of GMA Network’s early morning programming during the ‘Where You Belong’ era. The said programs were also aired on ZOE-TV Channel 11, later known as GMA News TV, in the early 2000s.

With the move of ‘Superbook’ to ABS-CBN, does this mean ‘The 700 Club Asia’ will switch stations as well?

Like ‘Superbook’, ‘The 700 Club Asia’ is currently managed and produced by CBN Asia, whose parent company, the Christian Broadcasting Network, airs the original American version of ‘The 700 Club’.

The said program has also been a part of GMA’s programming for over 40 years, with the Asian version currently airing on GMA News TV during the late-night hours. But ‘The 700 Club Asia’ is not always synonymous with the Kapuso network.

‘The 700 Club Asia’ also aired on ABS-CBN’s sister network, Studio 23 (now ABS-CBN Sports+Action), during the early 2000s, as well as ABC-5 (now TV5). In 2006, GMA reclaimed the rights to the program and began airing it on QTV, which eventually became GMA News TV.

Although ‘The 700 Club Asia’ continues to air on News TV, there is a chance that the said religious program will jump back to ABS-CBN in the near future. If it does, then it will be a huge loss to GMA, whose financial and programming woes have been well-documented.

For now, ‘The 700 Club Asia’ will remain with the cash-strapped owners inside Timog Avenue. As for ‘Superbook’, new opportunities await in its new home at Mother Ignacia.

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GMA News TV Needs to Reformat or Move

GMA News TV is a network with so many issues. Whether it is the airing of classic films, the continuous airing of old public affairs programs, or the reluctance to air more live sports events and press conferences, the network is clearly at a disadvantage. And as a result, the network’s ability to compete with more established players is put into question.

Unlike AksyonTV and ABS-CBN Sports + Action, GMA News TV receives very little support from its parent network. Other than the live news programs, News TV offers mostly repeats of former GMA public affairs programs, classic films, and Filipino-dubbed documentaries. In addition, part of the channel’s shares are still owned by ZOE TV, hence the airing of ZOE programs like ‘Jesus the Healer’ and ‘Diyos at Bayan’.

Having said that, GMA seriously needs to reformat News TV, if not move it to another channel. The current programming content does not speak to the name of the network, and more akin to its previous name QTV-11. Perhaps renaming the network back to QTV, albeit with a more balanced programming catered to both genders, may be the right thing to do. But the reformat will only possible if the GMA bosses are extremely committed to support Channel 11.

If that does not work, another option for the network is to sell the shares of Channel 11 back to ZOE and move its operations to the inactive Channel 27, in order to save money. However, the second option may only be possible once the network is sold to another corporation, and if the network promises to avoid the same mistakes that hounded its previous occupant Citynet 27.

To be honest, there is no need for a ‘GMA News TV’. That network is a redundant piece of junk that needs to be disposed. A news channel requires a majority of its content to be news that is constantly updated, and public affairs programming that is adept to the modern times. Unfortunately, GMA News TV does not adhere to such standards.

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GMA News TV Does Sleep

GMA News TV

Despite its designation as a news network, GMA News TV does not air 24 hours a day, uncharacteristic for a network devoted to news coverage. (Logo courtesy of GMA Network).

During every broadcast of the GMA 7 news program 24 Oras, they would always end their program with the tagline ‘Hindi Natutulog ang Balita (The News Never Sleeps)’. But it is not always the case, especially when GMA has its own news network.

GMA News TV was launched on February 28, 2011. It claims to be the No. 1 news network in the Philippines based on NUTAM ratings. However, the network does not air 24 hours/day, and is usually off the air during Holy Week. Now here I think are the reasons why they do not air 24/7.

Funding Issues

GMA News TV is a VHF television station, airing on the Channel 11 frequency, which means that maintaining the airtime of the station is expensive at times. Let’s face it, most of the money GMA 7 spent is on lavish production of their teleseryes and variety shows, which means they usually neglect the most important aspect of television viewing: news production. And as I’ve mentioned before, they also do not allocate those funds on sports coverage. And unlike ABS-CBN and TV5, GMA is not owned by a conglomerate. Which leads to this next reason.

Lack of Variety in Programming

With only an average of 20 hours of programming time, GMA News TV’s programming lineup is not as deep as ANC’s or Aksyon TV’s. Most of the weekday programming is used to air reruns of former GMA 7 public affairs programs, classic Filipino or foreign movies, and religious programs like The 700 Club Asia. On weekends, they air programs produced by the Zoe Broadcasting Network, along with more GMA 7 program reruns and classic films. The lack of depth in terms of programming explains why GMA News TV, despite its name, is not a true news network. This leads to the next reason.

Less News Than Expected

The network’s flagship news programs were Balitanghali and State of the Nation. However, they focused mainly on national news, crime stories and showbiz news, typical of news programs like TV Patrol and 24 Oras. This is an example of ‘tabloid’ news programming, commonly found on cheaper tabloid newspapers that only the poor can afford. I expected more from GMA News TV with regards to expansive news coverage, but with the emphasis on ‘tabloid’ than ‘broadsheet’ reporting, I don’t think this network has what it takes to be a device for gathering national and global news, along with human interest stories. Worse, their use of a ticker is not enough; more updated stats and information need to be flashed on-screen. And finally,…

Reluctance for Press Conferences

Whenever there is a press conference, Aksyon TV and ANC would immediately cut to live coverage of an ongoing briefing while public affairs programming are being aired. This is not usually the case for GMA News TV. They rarely cut to live press conference of national significance while a program is on air; instead they wait for a commercial break before they cut to live. Worse, they would only have at least two minutes to report on an ongoing press conference. Again this is an example of how GMA News TV presents its news, in a swift but shallow manner.

GMA News TV is not the epitome of GMA News and Public Affairs‘ slogan ‘Serbisyong Totoo (True Service)’. If they were to truly embrace a comprehensive and deep news coverage, they need to know how to build a true news network from the ground up, from operational costs to updated technological devices and extensive use of their news website GMANews.tv. But right now, they are not a true news network based on their programming lineup and airing hours, and their claim to be the No. 1 such network is not a way to measure their worth and credibility as a device for reporting the latest news.

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