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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