ABS-CBN franchise renewal

LTFRB for Commercial Broadcasters?


LAST TUESDAY night’s fiasco on the small screens reflected how the politicization of pettiness has concretized into public policy that will shape in the years to come in our history textbooks.

Indeed, other telecommunication franchises lapsed but they were neither signed off nor discontinued any services. Alas, this incident was the byproduct of the people’s decision they have made four years ago; they have reaped the reward they sow.

While the remaining competitors’ solid fans “celebrated” the demise of Mother Ignacia’s airwaves anew with few of the closeted loyalists giving unsolicited advice as an opportunity to shine, it will be hard for them to be their replacement to the fallen media conglomerate in different aspects — especially, in the midst of the pandemic.

The politicization of pettiness and dismissiveness to listen to experts — the two dangerous components of the post-factual period — has led to the last straw: “It is time for Congress to lose their power to grant individual franchises for national broadcasts.”

While we respect the responsibility of telecommunications lies squarely on the national government (federal, for constitutional reformists out there), what would be the next step if we do indeed strip away the enforcement powers for broadcasters from the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC)?

There was a quirk suggestion by Ana Marie Pamintuan’s Sketches on The Philippine Star published last Friday if all options fail for ABS-CBN:

For the long term, after this [ABS-CBN franchise non-renewal] controversy, lawmakers might want to de-politicize the issue and delegate their authority to grant franchises for broadcast airwave allotments to another entity.

This happened for a transport franchise that gave birth to the Land Transporation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).

If we would have a commercial broadcasting counterpart, that would remind me of the United Kingdom with the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) and its successor, Independent Television Commission (ITC) — now, as Office of Communications (OfCom) — with their franchise rounds of then-regional ITV in 1980 and in 1991, respectively.

 

Three Questions

First, how will this new agency be named?

The logical and naive answer that popped out in my mind right now is the Commercial Broadcasting Authority of the Philippines (CBAP). This is obviously different from the non-government sanctioned Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP). However, CBAP and KBP can work together as partners for sensible media regulations.

 

Second, How many members should form the CBAP?

Initially, CBAP shall be composed of one Chairman and four board members. However, we could allow more room for the academic, technical (that includes electronics and communications engineers), the financial and marketing sector.

 

Third, what should be the powers and functions?

Like the LTFRB, CBAP will be responsible for promulgating, administering, enforcing and monitoring compliance of policies, laws and regulations with regards to broadcasting. They will be in charge of awarding which companies the right to carry the frequencies on the radio (AM and FM) and television in the national (VHF) and regional (UHF) markets.

 

Stepping in the Conceptual Shoes

Okay, ikaw na! Question: How will you deal with the ABS’ fiasco?

It’s going to be a bit difficult.

In my prospects, a broadcaster’s individual assessment has to be made on what I called the F.O.O.T. note — pretty much like SOAPIE for nurses. They have to satisfy the criteria of:

  • Financial stability and feasibility. The media entity should have a stable financial record and its business plans for the medium term (5 to 6 years) are reasonable.
  • Organizational cooperation. Does this network have functioning core divisions?
  • Operational record. This is the weight of the matter for viewers. This is where the program’s quality — not just quantity — is also judged. Does the composition of their programs favor one genre over another? Are their programming grid overreliant from another network or are they self-sustaining?
  • Technical capability. Do they have sufficient equipment? Are their programs HD compatible? Is the network diligently testing for digital television?

Each aspect is synergetic to one another.

If they have an unqualified record (in other words, at an acceptable level) for every aspect, they can proceed. If not, they can be rectified but if they didn’t improve by that given amount of time, they have to ship out. That’s how competition exists.

Unlike the present regime where individual franchises for 25 years are up for grabs racing for that limited resource, the CBAP will review all in the VHF and UHF territory every 5 to 6 years. Within 18 to 24 months before the period, they are required to release the periodic report on which channels in both bands will remain and which will not.

If that will apply with the fiasco, ABS-CBN would not have been off the air, provided they have to correct the errors of their ways, but another one would. (Won’t tell which one but you know what I’m talking about even if it hurts.)

 

Afterthought

That being said, it’s hard to tell if this piece of policy will work out since often to always, people with good ideas are quashed by self-serving politicians and bureaucrats.

However, this is not the first time I have formulated a policy with regard to broadcasting, and of course, I am ready to accept the backlash.


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Timow’s QuOP No. 12: The ECQ Survey Results


person writing on notebook

Photo by Lukas on Pexels.com

WE are supposed to close this by June 1 but because of yesterday’s event, we closed the survey. The opinion post regarding that matter will be discussed in a separate article.

Since March 26, Timow’s Turf conducted the survey (powered by SurveyMonkey) to cut the boredom from the enhanced community quarantine. The survey contained six questions — splitting into two categories with three each — regarding the issues on Philippine television so far this 2020 before the plague broke into a pandemic.

Until yesterday, 26 respondents answered the survey, but there is a disclaimer: The answers will not have a significant bearing on the decisions to be made by network executives and/or related government agencies.

Here is the breakdown of the results from each question asked. (NOTE: The figures don’t add up to exactly 100% due to rounding to the nearest integer.)

 

(more…)

Holy Week Programming in the Time of Lockdown


Carvaggio Crowning with Thorns

Carvaggio’s The Crowning with Thorns (1607)

[In memory of Joseph Emmanuel “Jake” Jacinto]

EVERY YEAR since our existence, the Turf publishes the programming insights that chronicled the subdued programming and advertising for the very important time that unraveled the mystery of the Christian faith. This has become the most viewed annual tradition.

This year’s commemoration, however, will not be like the usual as it is consumed by the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) throughout Luzon until Easter Sunday (April 12) April 30 to mitigate against the spread of the coronavirus.

With one year out to the Quincentennial, the national Church has dedicated and designated this year as the Year of Ecumenism, Interreligious Dialogue and Indigenous Peoples. Hence, we should have expected the theme to be integrated throughout this very sacred week.

Affected Programs

Live Religious Programs

While TV masses will still be here without the faithful, the live religious specials won’t be covered:

  • Palm Sunday Recollection (spearheaded by Fr. Jerry Orbos in Meralco Theatre, Pasig City on PTV)
  • Siete Palabras (on Good Friday, both on ABS-CBN and GMA, even in their respective regional channels where applicable)

Taped Religious Programs

  • While the Jesuit Communications’ annual Lenten special “‘Fiesta: Ang Makulay na Pananampalatayang Pilipino‘” is announced — with its narration by former Archbishop Cardinal Chito Tagle — the fate of broadcasting on ABS-CBN is shelved  (see more at the bottom).
  • The taping of Power to Unite‘s annual special this year, which will broadcast immediately before the 7 Palabras on GMA on Good Friday, will not happen. (Replay)
  • Even though this year’s edition of the 7 Last Words on IBC 13 is announced during the start of Lent, the shooting of Meng R. Canlas’ annual staple feared that it will not make it on time for shooting and post-production. (It will and it will remain in broadcast as scheduled amidst the void this week.)
  • While the Way of the Cross from the Colosseum is recorded and televised on GMA as the final religious (and over-all) special for the Triduum, this year’s iteration is canceled.

Lenten Dramas

Due to the ECQ, the planned shooting of the Lenten dramas for Eat Bulaga during the weekdays of Holy Week is considered shelved. The same applies to The 700 Club Asia, Michael Angelo and APT Entertainment (for Holy Saturday).

Had the pandemic not happened, EB’s stories would likely draw from the life stories in their successful segment of Bawal Judgmental. Alas, they have no choice but EB has to re-air some of their best Lenten classics.

Other Events

The inaugural edition of the summer edition of the Metro Manila Film Festival (SMMFF) — proposed by Sen. Bong Go — is postponed. The parade, which would have been held this coming Sunday, is called out.

Network Responses

In normal circumstances, the three days where most radio and VHF TV broadcasters are subdued or sign-off; non-Catholic broadcasters don’t have to follow suit. UNTV, even though they are inimical to Catholics, did sign off for the first two days. Throughout these days, no regular newscasts would be delivered but the news advisories would be longer.

The implementing operations this year remain the same.

Considering the ongoing emergency and the lessons made from 2015 when Super Typhoon Chedeng threatened to landfall, PTV will not sign off for their annual maintenance and they may give any sporadic updates. Lotto draws still remain off since mid-March.

Re: ABS-CBN

During the Triduum, ABS-CBN is well-known for airing religious specials — including the respective liturgical services on those days and JesComm’s annual Lenten special. Before the pandemic broke out, their franchise renewal became the country’s hot topic; while it should have been expired yesterday, the Department of Justice said that their broadcast franchise will lapse on May 4.

Regarding Easter Sunday (April 12)

Normal programming should have happened but because of the quarantine remains on this particular week, regular programming and new shows (teleseryes and a new Vice Ganda show) won’t be restored until at least, the following week.

At 4:00 p.m. (our time) on that day, Pope Francis would officiate the Easter Sunday Mass at the St. Peter’s Square and deliver the Urbi et Orbi Message and impart the Blessing from the Vatican. It is normally expected to air on ANC (Mass only), PTV, CNN Philippines while GMA would cover that at the very end of their broadcast day.

The usual outdoor celebration would not proceed since the lockdown in Italy is prolonged, in the account of higher casualties; it would resort exclusively to indoors and live stream.

The monitoring now will depend on you.


In light of uncertainty with the pandemic, Timow’s Turf will be on hiatus until further notice.

In the meantime, answer our new survey here.

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Hostage Crisis Reporting: Have We Learned Anything About It?


[Requested by Gian Paolo Dela Cruz but modified]

LAST MONDAY (not yesterday), a disgruntled, former security guard entered his former assignment in a mall in Greenhills, San Juan City to take hostage for about nine hours. The motive of the frustrated perpetrator is alleged labor conditions. No one got killed in that saga after his surrender but ended up one injured.

However, not all netizens were happy about the handling of the hostage crisis as if they never learned anything at all from what happened on August 23, 2010. For one, the spectators’ response for using social media live stream “as if it’s a mall show by their favorite artist.” (quote from a Twitter user, not mine) Another is when the media gives into the perpetrator’s demands to hold a press conference to amplify his grievances.

Although this is obviously of less intensity than a decade ago, treating a hostage as a news item is still never treated equally as dealing with regard to petty crimes or accidents.  Hostages have motives and demands from perpetrators but the key difference, they are definitely violent in nature.

I can recall about three notorious high-profile hostages and I learned they were covered on the live newscast.

  • In 2002 in Pasay City, Diomedes Tablos suddenly snatched four-year-old Dexter Balala in the bus terminal and pointed an ice pick to his neck. The flawed confrontation approach by the city’s police force through open fire after the perpetrator stabbed the child led to the death of both the perpetrator and the boy.
  • In 2007, in front of Manila City Hall, Jun Ducat held hostage 32 children and 3 teachers from his daycare center inside the bus. Following the negotiations from the police and even a senator, he released the hostages and surrendered peacefully.
  • Three years later, in Quirino Grandstand, a sacked police officer took hostage 23 tourists (mostly from Hong Kong) on their tour bus. The fumbled operations — from sledgehammers to — were shown on live newscast ended up in carnage with eight of the hostages (all Hong Kongers) killed.

As a result of that major fumble that became an international embarrassment, the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) made a matrix of how to handle hostage-taking situations from different institutions and authors who media experts.

Therefore, both the KBP, non-KBP members and now, online news sites should synthesize from that matrix and formulate a harmonized and consistently adaptive policy amidst the ever-rapidly-changing technological milieu.

Have we learned anything? Most articles and reactions after the past week’s incident inclined into one answer: we don’t. We don’t blame about that response; it was a validating point about short-term memories on our collective psyche since we are too much prioritized with other important events like the coronavirus pandemic and the national issues (e.g. POGOs and the franchise renewal of a major TV network) with the latter supported further with the “he said/she said” event horizon — which it can no longer escape to finding out which side is telling the truth.

FINAL THOUGHT: With regard to the past week’s incident, the perpetrator who must be in bars right now should’ve gone to Reliance and explain his grievance over to Raffy Tulfo. But I guess it’s too late to set his mind straight and sane before seeking that alternative.

 


 

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If There Is No More ABS-CBN Again (Part 2): How Will Their Competitors Respond?


[WARNING: This post contains insights that are whimsical; if you have different points, feel free to comment your differences. Read at your own risk.]

 

ABS-CBN Soundstage

One of the concerns if ABS-CBN stops broadcasting is how to maintain their Horizon soundstage in San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan. Will they open up for their competitors to rake in potentially lost revenue?

 

IN THE FIRST PART, we determined the background behind their hatred against Mother Ignacia and the sacrifices and the ethical questioning behind their programming operations that lead to their success for the past 10 years.

The hanging question remains unsolved: What if the keyboard and mobile chauvinists have it their way?

The short answer: FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano would finally end at last after four years. No more It’s Showtime and no more GGV and that means, no more lollygagging from Vice Ganda.

But the long answer is somewhat complicated.

Despite the rise of video-on-demand platforms, traditional TV remains the most dominant medium for information and entertainment. In other words, the loyal Kapamilyas and even avid viewers of their selected programs will have to enter cold turkey instantly.

Without a mode of exposure, artists (especially, the fresh ones) will lose an opportunity to build their careers in their resume; as a result, there will be an oversupply.

Hundreds of exclusive artists will all be, in theory, freelancers but some personalities have backup agencies. For example, Anne Curtis, Vice Ganda and Sarah Geronimo are all VIVA talents and with that, VIVA’s boss Vic del Rosario has the right to ink a deal with any remaining network and they would still get TV exposure. Those talents who don’t have a backup agency would be out of luck unless they planned ahead to take up entrepreneurial ventures like KathNiel with their barbershop business.

Thousands of employees from news and sports departments could get reassigned or get the pink slips. Newscasts, including regional ones, would undergo as exclusively digital akin to Rappler.

Current multi-year contracts with this network when it comes to sports (e.g. MPBL, NCAA and UAAP) and entertainment (e.g. Miss Universe and PMPC Star Awards) will really need to find a new home.

Sure, there is iWant to carry over the remaining episodes and some of their finished programs are ready for syndication to their soon-to-be-former rivals.

The over-all analog switch-off might be delayed and the Full HD progress would be stalled. The network have done both feats very seriously and had they continue to operate, they will be the frontrunner in testing 4K UHD.

In terms of the TVPlus’ functionality, their encryption should come to an end and the apparatus would be treated as a regular DTV converter box or it would longer be useful.

It’s not just the TV frequencies that would be gone, so too would be their radio stations under their ownership like — in the case of Metro Manila — MOR 101.9 and DZMM 630. (No more DJ Chacha for advice and no more Dos por Dos for engaging commentaries for motorists in the afternoon rush hour.)

Other non-broadcast ventures like Star Cinema, Star Music and ABS-CBN Publishing will continue to operate. Their promotion would need communication of consent with other rival TV networks.

Their facilities outside Mother Ignacia like the new Soundstage in San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan could be opened up to their competitors for rentals or for lease in order to make up the lost revenue.

Competitors’ Response

With Mother Ignacia suddenly disappeared, Kantar’s and Nielsen’s database for measuring TV ratings would change drastically and so are its entertainment reports in both broadsheets and tabloids.

Losing ABS-CBN for good (or for at least two years) can make a significant difference in the Philippine TV landscape.

Before their very eyes, what will happen to the rest of the competitors? Will they replicate the silver linings or successes in certain aspects that Mother Ignacia currently enjoys?

In a short answer, three rival entities (with four VHF channels) will have an individual, significant response; CNN Philippines is out of the picture and sectarian UHF networks are barely affected.

GMA

For the simpletons, the possibly-former rival will be the undisputed winner in the new TV ratings game as it would hold the virtual monopoly on general entertainment.

Financial-wise, this media company generated 15.236 billion pesos in revenue in 2018 (which is 38% of ABS’) with the asset composition being 62% equity compared to 42% equity from Mother Ignacia. Net income was 15.1% of revenue compared to ABS’ 4.7%.

When it comes to broadcasting divisions, GMA has almost everything that ABS-CBN has except for a full-time sports department.

As this year celebrates its  70th corporate anniversary, a grand homecoming would happen. Will GMA repatriate Ogie Alcasid, Regine Velasquez and Ryza Cenon? Assuming they have returned, will the entertainment department give the displaced talents more exposure and better roles on their upcoming projects?

In the past decade, Timog Avenue’s reality competition shows tend to be “original.” Without ABS-CBN, their mindset should be changed gradually but let’s not be surprised if they are contented with status quo.

In terms of technical aspects, GMA has a varying, inconsistent application in Full HD. While their selected shows on mobile and online are in high definition and on 16:9, TV remains at 4:3. (To borrow Nadine Lustre, ano na, 2020 na!)

 

The 5 Network

In the eyes of its apologists, the Network from Reliance is perceived as a safe harbor for the displaced artists just because it’s on the nearest neighboring frequency (if you skipped PTV). This would help Jane Basas’ intention of reinstating entertainment programs. The only threat to this opportunity is the ire for insistent, immature anime fans and loyal sports aficionados in social media.

For the time being, TV5 will be No. 2 when Deuce is suddenly gone since entertainment programs have to be pitched first before getting the green light.

A network fan pitched a comprehensive overhaul of Big Brother if the current right’s holder is gone. To be honest, that program franchise is nearly at the declining trend (although we can still continue) but his favorite show, The Amazing Race, is already at that stage. Maybe it’s time to get a new, rising franchise competition show like Lego Masters or to live on the legacy, The Masked Singer.

As of this publication date, the best of Face to Face is airing in the afternoon after Aksyon sa Tanghali. Without Dos, Tiyang Amy Perez can resume her stint and it should be aired on their last timeslot in the late morning so as not to offend the current iconic personality of the network, Raffy Tulfo.

While ABS-CBN currently enjoys the two aforementioned technical advancements, 5 has yet to undertake them very seriously (In addition, their channels are not scanned consistently or at all in DTV set-top boxes — not even on TVPlus).

 

Government-Owned Media Networks

In aggregate, PTV and IBC generate a bit more than 250 million pesos in 2018. Comparing that to ABS, they need to exert 160 times more effort to earn the level of revenue. When it comes to net income, it’s in the negative (without PCOO subsidy).

While PTV can open up commercial advertisements in the amended charter, they haven’t been that successful to keep up. Why? Public’s reputation, internal network culture, and restrictive mindset. Let’s face it, both GOCCs are not successful cash cows; they are not like PCSO or PAGCOR.

We published a proposed license fee mechanism back in 2017 to generate stable levels of revenue since home shopping, long-time infomercials, long-time blocktimers and part of Lotto games are too varying and not enough to recoup the deepest costs but we admit that it wasn’t a popular measure.

An avid viewer of this network wants to put displaced talents who happened to be a VIVA talent into the network just like in the 1990s. But with this jammed default mindset, it’s asinine, impossible, since Vasra always prioritizes the old man in Malacanang.

Special Case for IBC

Under the governance of the Kabayan’s (Noli de Castro) daughter (Kat) last year, she inherited Old Balara’s financial position under the capital deficiency territory — which means that the measured liabilities are more than its measured assets. (This is much worse than the total assets of which the majority of it is in debt that ABS currently stands.)

Throughout the period, they started to improve its programming (thanks to SMAC Television Production) but the financial performance is yet to be seen.

Last year, two Star Magic talents starred on that channel: Ritz Azul acted in the teleserye Bukas May Kahapon and Heaven Peralejo (the niece of Rica) became the co-host performer of weekend variety show SMAC Pinoy Ito. This year, Awra Briguela (Makmak of FPJAP) will join in the Gen Z-casted noontime show, Yes Yes Yow.

When it comes to Old Balara’s technical aspects in digital television, they take their tests seriously than her sister network amidst a 480i (standard definition) resolution.

That being said, for the time being, Channel 13 cannot be replicated as the #1 network as it was claimed during the first shutdown half a century ago.

Radio

Without 101.9, the newest member, DJ Chico, could come back home to Energy FM 106.7. Their loss could also mark 105.9’s opportunity, which means, it’s going to be another rebrand and reformat.

Without DZMM, Radyo Patrol reporters will be scattered to other AM radio stations or create an independent media production.

Final Thoughts

Sure, there are moral lessons in this worst-case scenario of such intervention to glean on — there is a time to swallow on one’s pride and greed.

Shutting down the major media entity’s core business segment will never be enough for their satisfaction; it’s rather a beginning set by these vengeful keyboard nationalists of a bloody battle.

For the die-hard fanatics of this embattled network, their life is now facing danger.


The financial data that was used in the calculation were from their 2018 audited financial reports that are downloadable from their investor relations page (for ABS-CBN and GMA) and from the Commission on Audit website (for PTV and IBC). The 2019 figures are not yet available as they are currently under audit.


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Photo courtesy of ABS-CBN.com

If There Is No More ABS-CBN Again (Part 1): Faring Mother Ignacia’s Performance and Finding the Hatred


[WARNING: The author is not a hater of the media entity in hot water. With apologies to fanatics of this particular network but let’s face it, no media entity is perfect or sacred; every network has its flaws and successes. Please read at your own risk.]

IN the opening salvo almost two weeks ago, this year is the most crucial moment in the Philippine media industry; this is the year ABS-CBN is facing a make-or-break situation — the franchise renewal is at stake.

Six days from now, Congress will resume its plenary session and the bills regarding their franchise renewal are in the bind. Some solons like Laguna Representative Sol Aragones — who was a reporter of her previous employer — wanted to put this bill as urgent and priority before March 30 strikes.

For the past three years, President Rodrigo Duterte constantly objected for their renewal by playing different mind games. Recently, he wanted the network to be sold to his business friend Dennis Uy, the Villars or Manny V. Pangilinan — despite a mix of denials and interests — in order to dilute the Lopezes out of boardroom control anew. In a nutshell, as Ryan Ortega opined, these acts seem to generate “terrible optics.”

While media professionals and enthusiasts generally saw Mother Ignacia’s success in ratings and in business strategy, not everyone is pleased (and it’s not simply because they are hardcore loyalists from Kamuning).

What if the then-fringe, now-significant hardcore supporters of this administration got what they wished for — shutting ABS-CBN down for good or for at least, two years — despite little or no effect or even silence from both the telecommunications authority and their broadcasting associate for their non-renewal.

But before we answer that big question, we will delve into why that particular hate on the network grew and how did the network fare out for the past 10 years.

When did all the hate begin?

It all began after Cory Aquino’s funeral. MMK aired the two-part story of the couple on what would have been the former beloved President’s 77th birthday in January 2010.

Due to the airing, netizens criticized the airing as an indirect platform for their unico hijo, Noynoy Aquino to victory in the polls. At that time, certain personalities were active in the network during the period like Korina Sanchez (spouse of his running mate Mar Roxas) and obviously, her sister, Kris. However, not all personalities in the network endorsed him such as Willie Revillame and Dolphy who endorsed Manny Villar.

When Noynoy won the Presidency at the inaugural automated elections, Ricky Carandang and Manuel L. Quezon III from ANC became part of the Palace’s communications team. (The latter was responsible for making the Official Gazette in touch and informative with social media.) Thus, the weekly anthology series every Saturday became a tool to propel certain candidates into victory.

The year after (2011), a YouTube creator named PinoyMonkeyPride published a series of animated videos repeating buzzwords against the network as it was owned by “oligarchs” and their story “biased” in favor of the then sitting administration.  It may have paved the way for netizens’ inspiration to create their fan pages and blog sites to hate the then-President and its actions wholeheartedly. Their accusations, however, were a mix of truths and baseless claims; it did not pay much attention in the general social media news feed but it escalated as the next presidential election approaches.

During the last days of the election campaign in 2016, this particular network aired attack ads against two candidates in two separate positions. One of them was paid by then-Senator Antonio Trillanes IV (who ran for Vice President but eventually placed dead last) attacking then-Davao City mayor. The other ad is by then-Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares (who at that time ran for Senator for the first time) who attacked against then-Senator Bongbong Marcos (wherein the latter ran but almost won the vice presidency).

After the clear and vindicated victory, the new President persistently made sporadic accusations against the network — from taking unauthorized loans from the Development Bank of the Philippines, unpaid ads and unpaid taxes despite being not true in their annual reports. These soundbites have been relayed over the cyberspace, without fact-checking and hearing the other side, and simply accepted them as gospel truth.

ABS-CBN in the 2010s

Casting aside the political colors, the 2010s on ABS-CBN made significant differences in their programming operations.

Free TV

Through cunning exploitation of absolute advantage, this network broadcast their acquired international franchises of competition shows and freely create their deviations for teens and kids like The Voice and Your Face Sounds Familiar, just to name a few.

As reality competition shows became all the rage and expanded back-to-back on weekend primetime, it pushed game shows obsolete. Regardless of that trade-off, those shows have repetitively been hosted in circles by what the Turf called, the Trinity: Luis Manzano, Billy Crawford and/or Robi Domingo. Speaking of game shows, their selection of players shifted to exclusive, non-committed stars in order to avoid defection to another network. (which became the Turf‘s first breaking point) Nonetheless, both types of shows have injected some comic relief for ratings.

Vice Ganda became the face of the network in the past decade as we see him every day of the week —  at least, on It’s Showtime and on Gandang Gabi Vice (sometimes, he performs on ASAP). His incorrigible, panlalait style of comedy has influenced his co-equals with their fans continuing to tolerate him. In the late part of the decade, his jockeying antics on their live noontime show continued without a sense of time (which became another turning point).

Throughout the past 10 years, this network was responsible for boosting up the “love team manufacturing and enhancing” industry. From their conception at Pinoy Big Brother, they ventured out into drama and anthology and without a doubt, it was successful. It’s no wonder that the reboot of Wansapanataym lost its zeitgeist as a fantasy anthology with moral lessons like the first incarnation into a springboard of kalandian. (Thank goodness, they ended it last September.)

With unified MTRCB ratings fully implemented since 2011, their network’s teleseryes were mostly classified into the SPG territory. The starting times of teleseryes every weekday shifted to pre-noontime since 2012, beginning with Be Careful with My Heart.

In 2013, during their 60th anniversary, they forge a deal with CJ ENM to broadcast O Shopping as an overnight blocktimer. It almost fills up ABS-CBN’s round-the-clock schedule except on Tuesday.

In 2014, Studio 23 became ABS-CBN Sports + Action (later shortened as S+A). In the same year, late-night newscast Bandila reported a mysterious flesh-eating disease in Pangasinan, which turned out to be false.

In 2015, their encrypted set-top box, ABS-CBN TVplus was introduced in the market and were sold hot like hotcakes; as of this publication, it sold 8.9 million units and just last year, they launch their mobile version, TVPlus Go, for commuters. On that same year, Boy Abunda’s The Buzz pulled the plug — putting an end of an era for weekend afternoon showbiz scoops. Meanwhile, FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano premiered and still is the successful teleserye in weekday primetime.

The following year (2016), another TV program genre was put into the dustbins of history as Luv U was the last teen-oriented program to broadcast. Children’s programming (including cartoons and anime) was downgraded into one meager slot on free TV every Sunday morning as the rest were migrated to Yey! (their exclusive digital sub-channel)

In 2019, after 14 years, kiddie-casted sketch comedy show Goin’ Bulilit pulled the plug.

Cable Operations

Because of the trend of cord-cutters — wherein cable subscription is dropped in favor of cheaper or reasonable pricing of the promised offerings on video-on-demand platforms — ABS-CBN discontinued these cable channels within the decade: ABS-CBN Regional Channel, Balls (replaced with Liga), CgeTV, Hero (became a Web portal), Lifestyle (became Metro Channel), Tag (in favor of Cine Mo! and Movie Central) and Velvet.

Radio Operations

In 2013, the network unified the FM branding as My Only Radio (M.O.R.).

Other Ventures

ABS-CBNmobile, their exclusive mobile service provider, did not last that long; the service ran from 2013 to 2018.


 

If we were to step into their shoes, what will happen if ABS-CBN’s core broadcasting operations suddenly gone? Will their competitors replicate the success of all or certain aspects of Mother Ignacia? That will be discussed further in Part 2.

Timow’s Turf Opening Salvo for 2020: New Decade, New Uncertainty in PH Traditional Media


[WARNING: This outlook post contains visceral and offensive insights from the author’s perspective. We called a spade a spade and read at your own risk.]

THEY SAY the hindsight is 2020, yet, we are just getting started with the New Year.

While we transition into the new decade (rolling over to the year ending in zero), it must, therefore, sense a new chapter, a new paradigm, a new mindset, a new phase.

In this special opening salvo, we focus on the outlook of the traditional media not just for the head of the decade but for the next 10.

Television

In three years, the National Telecommunications Commissions directs that all TV networks must be fully digital transmitted. In other words, it’s not a “sana all” but a “dapat all” by 2023.

This is the latest deadline set in all of Southeast Asia. Brunei already shut their analog transmission in 2017, Singapore and Malaysia recently shut their analog transmission last year, Indonesia will have their analog system switched off completely by 2022. While Thailand has no clear deadline set, they will be certainly ahead of us.

The truth is: This challenge can be done easier on national television networks than regional ones like CLTV 36.

Hence, this year should mean serious business or they might have to adjust to another 10 years.

March 30: Mother Ignacia’s “Day of Reckoning”

Media professionals and enthusiasts are going to be vigilant leading to this particular date of the year. It may sound like a random calendar date but this is the day when ABS-CBN’s 25-year franchise to operate their telecommunications facilities from Congress expires.

Throughout the years, there are constant objections of non-renewal with a litany of both valid and false reasoning made by the die-hard supporters of the current Duterte administration and non-supporter skeptics.

Influential names in business are sprouting to invest to ensure a renewal of this embattled media conglomerate such as Dennis Uy, the Villar family and reportedly, Manny V. Pangilinan (from neighboring TV5) — though his media empire will not be involved. They are trying anything that forces the Lopezes to divest and/or to lose control in the boardroom.

By this time, many are imagining the landscape of our media industry without ABS-CBN for the second time. How will the 8.9 million sets of their TVplus function? Will their broadcast properties — including the Soundstage in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan — be willing to lease or rent to any entity (including their rivals)?

Sure, there will be lessons to be learned before their competitors and all these and more will be tackled on a separate, comprehensive, upcoming post.

 

GMA at 70

This year, the Timog Avenue Network will celebrate its 70th corporate anniversary.

Among the programs offered this year is the return of Sen. Bong Revilla with Agimat ng Agila — the potential replacement for Daig Kayo ng Lola Ko due to Gloria Romero’s compromising health or Dingdong Dantes’ Amazing Earth.

However, Revilla’s return to the small screen happened last September when his movies were pitted against FPJ on ABS-CBN on Sunday afternoons.

This news drew ire of the netizens and rightfully so, especially for fellow Kapuso talent, Janine Gutierrez.

The bottom line is this: It is a reflection of our collective soft, forgiving and forgetful culture (that leads to the combined damaged culture) when it comes to politicians — especially who is an exclusive actor by day job — with a tainted track record of corruption. In other words, the network cares about money over the implied consequences of morality and common sense.

Meanwhile, another series to watch out for in 2020 is the local remake of Voltes V.

In fairness to the terms of digital television testing, they are reportedly stable and clear in moving objects like a bus but it remains unclear for the stationary areas. The supposed encrypted apparatus as a response to TVplus is yet to be released in the market, despite the trademark registration. While the analog signal remains good, not all programs that air there are Full HD compatible.

 

The 5 Network

With Jane Basas steering on the ship, she pledges to return with entertainment programming this year.

While Cignal’s exclusive channels will get an improvement — particularly with the launch of the Buhay Komedya “BuKo” channel (under a partnership with APT Entertainment) this Q1 — their plan on the main free-to-air channel remains vague (i.e. no specific programs or genres).

Such vagueness is nothing new since it tends to be broken because they prioritize sports, due to the influence of her predecessor (Chot Reyes) and her superior (Manny V. Pangilinan). It will happen when the Tokyo Olympics in July when Dentsu, the exclusive rights holder of the Games in the Asian continent, taps this network as our country’s official exclusive carrier.

Yet, this network has not given a hint over digital television tests and they aren’t serious in making some of their running programs in Full HD.

 

Other Networks

CNN Philippines’ brand licensing agreement has extended until 2024. While the flagship American company is on the cross-hairs due to the hostile political climate (especially the formalization of the impeachment trial against U.S. President Donald Trump and the presidential election), our domestic counterpart was mainly due to recognition and acceptance by the general public who are tired of sensationalism rendered by major commercial networks. (Albeit, I shouldn’t forget that there are some people can’t be pleased due to the “impure” programming composition.) In terms of digital broadcasting, this channel’s broadcast can be rendered on Full HD.

While government media entities will not change their pro-incumbency and pro-executive editorial orientation, PTV’s DTV tests are low signal but rendering on 1080i.

In the past year, IBC 13 tried to be relevant again with new programming from SMAC Television Production and enhanced by bagging three PMPC Star Awards after a 12-year drought. Yet — with all due respect — the privatization process becomes a running gag. In their recent developments on that issue, PCOO Secretary Martin Andanar said that it will happen after the tax clearance and “when their franchise is renewed.” Based on their related legislation, their franchise will expire in 2025 (three years after Duterte will no longer be the tenant of the Palace); from that year on, it would mean the process would go back to square one and it won’t get done. In fairness to the terms of digital tests, they are currently on test broadcast, rendering in standard 480i.

 

Radio

While digital television is lurking on the horizon, the same should have been done for radio (HD Radio); unlike TV, no deadline is set for radio. So far, 10 out of 26 FM radio stations in the Metro Manila market has tested this endeavor.

DZIQ 990: Another Target

The Philippine Daily Inquirer’s radio station DZIQ 990 was officially launched on September 9, 2010. Their teleradyo counterpart is aired on May 9, 2016, as a digital subchannel of BEAM TV.

In recent years, it became a high target due to the perceived news angle against the current presidential administration. In retaliation, the government forced to sell the paper’s owners (the Prietos) in Mile Long property in 2017 and Ramon S. Ang would later buy out the paper. But this was far from over, the BIR slapped a complaint against the paper for tax deficiencies with the previous joint venture with GMA on INQ7.net and a few days earlier from that complaint, Victor C. Agustin, a former contributor of this broadsheet and one of the hosts of Cocktales in then-Aksyon TV, files a syndicated estafa against the Prietos.

The losses accumulate due to the complicated episodes surely affect the future operations within and beyond the print. Hence, we go back to their radio operations where it is shortened to 12 hours a day.

Unlike in Mother Ignacia, their franchise expiration is not much in the buzz on online forums and on social media. The Congressional franchise of Trans-Radio Broadcasting Corporation, the company behind DZIQ, is set to expire this July 6.

Other Radio Stations

For Manila Broadcasting Company’s group of radio stations, this will be a challenging year for recovery after the dreadful fire in Pasay City last October.

Just a few days ago, Crossover 105.1’s signature smooth jazz format was put to a stop around the airwaves after 25 years but they are still playing on their app. It signaled a full move to Internet radio. (It’s a plot twist.)

While the lessons at 105.1 are learned, neighbor DWLA-FM 105.9 MHz (we’re not using their current branding to avoid further jinxes) has to as the previous decade harnessed four (?) R&Rs (rebrandings and reformats). Perhaps, the resolution we can give to them is to stop their indecisiveness and desperation and realize their mistakes and shortcomings. The eyebrow-raising question is: Will they ever learn at all?

 

Conclusion

We don’t know what’s in store for this year and the rest of the 2020s as the timeless adage goes, “The past is history; the future is a mystery; today is a gift and that is why we call it a present.”

To end this opening post, let Princess Elsa sing the sentiment:


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Photo courtesy of KWIQ.com

The Filipino Decides 2019: The Post-Election Wrap


EVERY COUNTRY gets the government it deserves.”

This is a famous quote, apparently attributed by Joseph de Maistre, everyone has heard after the results came in and the Philippines is NO EXCEPTION last week.

Despite joys and inspirations fawning over the local races, everyone knew already what happened over the national count. Unfazed, shocked and enraged.

Come July 22, they will be duly seated in a leased part of the GSIS Building in Pasay City. Soon enough, they will move to their very own world-class edifice in Taguig.

On this note, we will tackle over two sections: the coverage and the agenda.

Coverage

Our coverage insight were almost right on the nose as we published last May 12.

Both ABS-CBN and GMA have rendered an outstanding competition over augmented reality. Once again, the former does simulcast with S+A but the latter has not done so with GMA News TV (for their last time under VHF channel 11). Amidst the doubts, TV5 finally covered.

When the transparency server were stalled at 0.4% during 8 hours after the poll closing, ABS-CBN seems to make the most of their time by airing their usual primetime teleseryes but GMA stayed on persistently. Both in the South Triangle Duopoly remained overnight while TV5 signed off for a moment until their server is updated once again.

For Media ng Bayan, it was a disappointment that their coverage were resorted to a “talk show” format. Well, what do you expect over a state-owned media consortium that cannot acquire and employ better presentation technology — at par with commercial counterparts — due to procedural red tape?

The Agenda

Now, for that hard part to digest. What’s in store for the incoming (18th) Congress?

  • Primarily, the Constitutional reform. Last week’s election might the last to considered as a midterm and on this running Charter. Unless a finalized form of federal charter will be resolved and presented, there may be some legislators who have obvious self-interests and/or reservations that could object some salient provisions.
  • The other main legislations: the restoration of death penalty, lowering of minimum age of criminal responsibility and the TRABAHO bill (a.k.a. TRAIN 2).
  • Martial Law in Mindanao. With the clear numbers in both houses, the declaration under the said island group are extended every year with a breeze up until 2022.
  • The solid defense of China’s trespassing of our seas and complete, permanent trade-off of its patrimony. It can be a done deal since they have the numbers to ratify a treaty with the adversary.
  • Last but not the least is ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal. This incoming Congress will take on this issue, which will expire come March. Although it’s for the legal ownership, operation and maintenance of telecommunication facilities, the signal of non-renewal might mean that the national media industry should prepare for the instantaneous change of competition.

What about the promises of the People’s Broadcasting Corporation bill (replacing PTV) — as promised on the President Duterte’s maiden State of the Nation address — and IBC’s privatization process? The former may be reintroduced if it failed to passed on the outgoing Congress but the latter is not as it would be answerable by the Presidential Communications Office during the budget interpellation on both Houses. If both did not prosper within the time period, it shouldn’t be surprising at all.

Conclusion

That being said, we carved up on what we chose that we cannot take it back (don’t say we didn’t warn you). That was our endgame and it is not as expected as what was in the movie.

Our results reflect what we are and we have no choice but to embrace them, whether we voted for any of them or not.


The Filipino Decides 2019 is hereby wrapped up.

Regular season begins on June 1 as the Sweeping Through the 2010s continues next week for its third episode. Anyway, article requests can now be entertained.


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The Turf’s PHTV Insight for Holy Week 2019


[NOTE: This post will be updated as more developments come in until Saturday, April 13. Observers and recorders during this week are already designated and they already know what to do.]

Christ in Gethsemane.jpg

Christ in Gethsemane, Heinrich Hoffmann (1886)

DESPITE our committed projects this year, the Turf is finally here to herald the insights for this Holy Week.

This respite serves as an opportunity of rest, reunion and self-reflection during the scorching heat. On that period, it is an unsurprisingly annual opportunity for maintenance of rail transits in Metro Manila — one of them will suspend its operation due to the degraded condition.

This is also the time of the year when a media monitor criticizes their subdued programming (read: sleeping) while here and the other parts of the world are on fire when they need certain attention (whether it is about their leaders’ antics or threatening natural disasters).

Main Points

  • During the Triduum, free-to-air channels, particularly on the VHF, have subdued and special programming or they can sign off (CNN Philippines is on during cable but not on FTA). There are no newscasts but are supplied with longer news advisories.
  • Aside from subdued program schedules on free-to-air channels, advertising is also limited during the Triduum (expect, the ad nauseam repeat of Nissin, Executive Optical, etc.). In addition, no political ads are allowed to be aired on the first two days minimal but the networks would do it all three.
  • Sectarian-owned UHF networks don’t usually sign off (save UNTV for the first two days). In some of their active newscasts during the period, the term “Holy Week” is considered taboo to utter for certain denominations and is substituted with another.Year of the Youth.jpg
  • The year 2019 is designated by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines as the “Year of the Youth,” as part of the Quincentennial in two years.
  • This might be ABS-CBN’s last, as their franchise will expire next March that coupled with President Rodrigo Duterte’s consistent tirades and pledge to object their renewal with varying (and mostly, absurd) justifications.

Chronological Order

Palm Sunday (April 14)

The rest of the networks will continue with their usual schedule while the NBA Playoffs begin, which is no big deal for current rights holders (S+A and BTV).

Fr Jerry Orbos

Fr. Jerry Orbos, who inspired the faithful with his Moments column every Sunday in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, is present every year during the Palm Sunday recollection on PTV.

The annual live family recollection from Meralco Theater in Pasig, organized and sponsored by the Mission Angels, will still broadcast on PTV 4. The main celebrant, Fr. Jerry Orbos will show up this year and we are certain that he will make an anecdote in light of his recent diagnosis of stage 2 lung cancer and the subsequent chemotherapy last November. (We hope to God to give him strength throughout his endeavor.)

The Weekdays (April 15-17)

Variety Show’s Response

Noontime entertainment shows would steer aside their primary purpose for a more serious (and sometimes, wholesome) Lenten drama.

For Eat Bulaga, the progenitor of this initiative since 1981, their annual presentations this year come with a twist; the posts in social media (from their page, the Dabarkads or their staff in TAPE) have hinted that their offerings are shot in Mountain Province, in General Santos City and in Japan.

For transparency purposes, the Dabarkads were drafted on which assigned day they will be stared.

Maureen Wroblewitz

Asia’s Next Top Model 5 winner, Maureen Wroblewitz, is admitted as a Dabarkad in Eat Bulaga last year. This means she will show her prowess in drama acting for this year’s Lenten special.

Tito Sotto is inclusive in the draft but he will not join due to his stint as Senate President.

Anjo Yllana, who is eligible for his third consecutive term as councilor for the 5th district in Quezon City, did not run this year — his brother, Polly, will. Thus, he will act on Holy Tuesday. Had he done so, his exposure during the campaign period could violate the Fair Elections Act.

For Maureen Wroblewitz, this is her debut — her first time — to shine in such drama acting. She will be with Anjo for “Biyaheng Broken Hearted.”

It’s Showtime will do likewise sans the transparency process. Their Tawag ng Tanghalan segment will be recorded; thus, they would end at their original (non-normalized) time of 3:30 p.m. On the other hand, Wowowin, their essentially one-upped rival, will obviously not partake.

Primetime

As always, newscasts on these days will cover the exodus from the Metro and the traffic situations in ports, expressways and thoroughfares of attractions.

At this moment, no teleseryes are premiering or wrapping up during this week. Pinoy Big Brother Otso is now under the first merged batch chapter but the question is: What will happen to them during the next three days when they are not on the air?

Paschal Triduum

Last year, Shalom’s Live 3-Day Retreat was supposed to air on IBC 13 but they decided to shift their broadcast to YouTube at lesser or no cost. Will they continue with their new platform this year or go on parallel with the old and ongoing rehabilitating network?

The services during the Triduum (i.e. The Mass with the Washing of the Feet, the Veneration of the Cross and the Easter Vigil) from SVD are broadcast on ABS-CBN.

Maundy Thursday (April 18)

Last year, TV5 reaired the previous day’s edition of SportsCenter Philippines but they did not cover anything throughout the holiday. It is more likely to follow this year.

Max Blanco and BF

Maxine Blanco, the 19-year-old UST student who succumbed to bone cancer, will be the subject of the interview by Fr. Orbos. The special will be aired this Maundy Thursday on ABS-CBN (before the Mass of the Lord’s Supper).

At 4:00 p.m., Fr. Orbos’ interview of Maxine Blanco, the struggled 19-year-old University of Santo Tomas student who succumbed to bone cancer last March 23, will be aired in the special “My Suffering is My Offering” on ABS-CBN.

By this evening, GMA would run with the best of Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho.

Good Friday (April 19)

TV5 (and its sister channel, 5Plus) is off throughout the day.

For the past few years, before the 7 Last Words, GMA airs the annual special of Power to Unite. Recently during the preceding quarter, the aforementioned religious program of Sis. Elvira Yap-Go is aired on IBC every weekday morning — which is deviation of what previous broadcasters, PTV and TV5 had practiced every week — as part of the revitalization under the auspices of the network president, Ms. Kat De Castro.

Would PTU continue their annual contractual obligation with GMA or be done at the same time with IBC?

At noon, the Seven Last Words will be discussed in detail for three hours. We should expect these discourse to emphasize or introduced by the youth (see the aforementioned main point).

On ABS, they will be delivered live at Christ the King Mission Seminary (exclusively under the Society of the Divine Word/Verbites) while GMA delivers it also live at Santo Domingo Church (exclusively under the Order of Preachers/Dominicans). IBC 13, which is solely taped and inclusive to any religious orders, already announced their 32nd annual iteration before Lent begins.

From midafternoon, the Jesuit Communication’s annual Holy Week tradition on ABS-CBN continues with “Sumasampalataya Ako,” presented by Cardinal Chito Tagle.

By near evening, CBN Asia presents, on their 25th anniversary, their Holy Week special: “Kublihan” on GMA.

Black Saturday (April 20)

As malls and some establishments opened on a regular schedule, religious programming in the morning and afternoon on that day are no longer present until the evening.

UNTV signs on again.

ABS-CBN’s NBA SabaDOS will not be aired this year; thus, this day will serve more of a movie house.

TV5 will resume to its original programming but there would be neither any games to exhibit nor SportsCenter Philippines.

By tonight, APT Entertainment will wrap up all the Lenten dramas for the year on GMA. This year’s drama is titled “The Journey,” starring Alden Richards and Max Collins.

While ABS wraps up the set of Triduum services, GMA’s last annual religious telecast is on the Way of the Cross from the Colosseum (spearheaded by Pope Francis) as IBC usually go overnight with El Shaddai’s Easter Vigil.

However, inside sources report this year that El Shaddai will deliver the healing message from Bro. Mike Velarde followed by the Liturgy itself.

That being said, ABS will not sign off throughout the early morning as they segue into O Shopping.

Easter Sunday (April 21)

Everything will be back to normal with some exceptions.

The Holy Week special from Bro. Bo Sanchez’s Kerygma TV that aired on ABS-CBN* will be re-aired on IBC.

At noon, ASAP and Sunday PinaSaya are usually pre-recorded since some mainstays are still on vacation. When they come back, the live performances resume next Sunday.

At 4:00 p.m., the Easter Mass in St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican will be covered live on ANC, CNN Philippines and PTV. The Urbi et Orbi message and blessing immediately follows; CNN Philippines will continue to air this before delivering the first evening newscast since the Triduum. GMA will carry this as their last program for their broadcast day.

By this evening, IBC will usually wrap the broadcast day and this whole week with the inspiring sermons and hymns of joy and praise from the special edition of “Music and the Spoken Word.”

For ABS-CBN, it also marks the start of the new competition show — Idol Philippines — the third network to hold the Idol franchise and the second franchise to transcend three networks after Family Feud.


~ We hope that the observance of Holy Week will be in splendor and in serenity. ~


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Photos courtesy of CBCP News, Philippine Daily Inquirer, GMA Network, ABS-CBN