CNN Philippines

Timow’s Turf Midyear Report 2021

[Updated October 22, 2021]

ONE YEAR AGO today, the House of Representatives triggered a mercy shot on Mother Ignacia, completing the President’s premeditated plot that was four years in the making. The repercussions triggered around the national TV industry amidst the global pandemic. 

For GMA Network, it’s given them inevitable crowning glory and a free pass.

For TV5, it triggered the execution of the revival of local entertainment after four years.

For CNN Philippines, it signaled a pivotal moment for aiming for serious, in-depth news and current affairs.

For the state-owned and controlled media entities (PTV and IBC), an urge to change their paradigms and compete with them. 

But did it work out well?

We are now past the midpoint of 2021 — the first full year without the trailblazer, a time to restore from the effects of the pandemic and a resolution to adapt to better normal and reformation of their respective image. 

For the TV industry, is there life after Mother Ignacia? If so, how would we rate them?


The Influence of Masa and Beyond: Can There Be a Change in Primetime Landscape?

[Requested by MJH]

AFTER a hard day’s work and a light dinner, you decided to slouch on the couch or bed and turn the remote on and flip your favorite show on the small screen. Even if you’re working from home, you might need some time to be recharged and entertained.

This is defined as the prime time wherein adults are their main target audience. From the marketing perspective, prime time is where the shows have the highest rating and their advertising rates are a bit more than 100% than the daytime. Hence, a big deal for the business-minded.

In a universal consensus, primetime starts after the national newscast where the audience is mostly at home and ends before the late-night news. The Philippines follows such a convention — on weeknights, at least.

Philippine Primetime TV B.C. (Before Corona)

Since the 1990s, the two networks from South Triangle had been under a heated matchup. At the turn of this millennium, we got used to the present formula of three daily teleseryes after the 90-minute newscast and one Asianovela (divided for daily consumption) before the late-night newscast. For GMA, their primetime Asianovela runs from Monday to Thursday as they will not let go of their cemented Friday night institution, Bubble Gang.

Even for the past two years (2018-20), it was a fierce battle, when prime time began past 8 p.m., due to one of the noontime show’s lollygagging that could aid some Metro Manila commuters arriving at home to catch their favorite shows.

For weekends, after their respective newscasts, they’re dedicated to sitcoms (Saturdays), reality competition shows, drama anthologies (Saturdays) and a magazine show (Sundays). On Sundays, their primetime marked its endpoint with the late-night comedy talk show before the start of the looming workweek.

Under the New Normal

The fall of the most prominent TV network and the COVID-19 pandemic should’ve signaled the shift of the structure and the mindset of primetime TV, right? Well, not on weekdays but substantially on weekends.

In case you don’t know, Pepito Manaloto has ended its nearly decade-long Book 2 and won’t be back until the middle of July for its prequel. 

Mother Ignacia’s main cable channel and their blocktime on Channel 11 continued what they left during their 34-year-old free-to-air, standalone era; Kamuning didn’t change the weeknight structure but has separated shows for each day of the weekend. (At the moment, Catch Me Out PH on Saturday is suspended while on Sundays, beginning supposedly this Sunday, it would have been the premiere of Sing for Hearts but it is postponed and for the meantime, Sirkus will take its place.)

TV5’s Case

TV5, the Eager McBeaver of the mainstream free-to-air TV networks, tried to do differently than what the South Triangle Duopoly had ever done. (Hence, the recent jazzy, upbeat station ID here.)


From November 2020 to March 2021, they retried a new way in Primetime Todo with Paano ang Pangako? as the weeknight drama and the weekly drama on one particular day of the week that followed. The experiment lasted for three and a half months because they admitted behind the scenes that old habits die hard.

As of this publication, Channel 5 begins their weekday primetime earlier with Sing Galing and Niña Niño, where their combined timeslot is clashing against 24 Oras. Their newscast, Frontline Pilipinas airs an hour ahead of GMA’s renowned early evening newscast and lasts for an hour. Stepping into Perci Intalan’s shoes, the reason for their counterprogramming is that they knew that some people are depressed and annoyed with accustomed long newscasts especially on items over the gaslighting pronouncements from the Palace and the most obvious annoyance, exclusive showbiz news. When 8 p.m. strikes, the three teleseryes and one Asianovela of the once-competitor go on the air.

The aforementioned paragraph is applicable when no domestic sports (a.k.a. their sense of normalcy) are actively in play. Once the PBA — or imminently, the Gilas campaign on the last window of FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers — gets underway, Wednesday and Friday night schedules would be disrupted and missing one episode of the three crown jewels from Mother Ignacia — or bumping off due to overtime in the game — is unacceptable, especially to those loyal viewers taking the solace of refuge there. The revitalized network had no choice but to adjust the schedule of the league so that their blocktime shows would start on time. (Trendrod Box has comprehensively provided the scenarios on this.)

For the Weekend

Their primetime block is dedicated to game shows on Saturdays — almost a full strip — but there is one reality competition show every Sunday beginning this coming Sunday (June 13) with POPinoy.

Unlike GMA, TV5 cannot have a weekend newscast due to preemptive measures in case for the country’s professional basketball league. So how do we define weekend primetime there in Reliance/Novaliches? Their primetime programming will start on the second game of the traditional PBA doubleheader.

Primetime losing relevance?

Now that GMA has the invincible mandate on the free airwaves and its CEO Eugene H. Krabs Felipe L. Gozon continued to bang about the ratings during the annual stockholders’ meeting (ASM) last May 19, 2021, we could’ve called them out to stop that kind of obsession since:

  1. Their ex-chief rival is no longer on the common platform and thus, not the same reach as it was before; and
  2. Their new rival (TV5) is miles behind them. (According to their ASM, Kamuning is a bit more than 7.5 times the audience share than in Reliance. It’s like GMA is an unidentifiable gas giant while TV5 becomes the Earth.)

Bumping off the competition could’ve urged the Kamuning Network to have their currently produced teleseryes extend as they want and upgrade their equipment for future shows since they have a bottomless bottom-line like iced tea but the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic (primarily due to locked-in tapings) and the government’s predictably botched response forced them to limit their endless possibilities.

However, the premeditated end to free-to-air license to the once broadcasting behemoth, and the virtual giant refused to budge to those who demand better quality of their shows would just make viewers abandon or throw off their (non-smart) TV sets and move on to their laptops, tablets and smartphones to catch up on the missing episodes. Our monthly survey in April conducted that 12% of respondents said that their viewing habits have embraced to purely online and/or streaming since May 6, 2020; it may be too small but it could grow. 

Acknowledging the class system and individual preferences, some people at the expanding bottom of the pyramid (not all are on the poorest of the poor) neither have the access nor the time as those who loved to binge-watch on Netflix, Cignal Play, iQIYI or any video-on-demand (VOD) platforms. They may have to rely on their hard-earned digital TV receivers.

People who were still loyal to the fallen TV network but lived at that part of the pyramid had no choice if they captured just one channel after scanning their digiboxes.

The network executives of the monopolistic media entity should’ve known that. They were given over a year to reform and change their paradigm but they failed and unsurprisingly ogled so much on the bottom line and such proceeds will be invested in non-core business just like the former competitor has done. The scrappy one in Reliance/Novaliches tried.

In other words, the demographics and their preferences must be accounted for as with the current environment we all are harnessing.

Will the State-Controlled Media Show Up?

While I have tackled so much about GMA and TV5, I would’ve almost forgotten how the state-owned networks would’ve responded. (CNN Philippines is excluded for obvious reasons.) 

While PTV is flexible because the main star (a.k.a. He Who Must Not Be Named) has his live, unfiltered show from the Palace and the famous Lotto draw, IBC 13 will have a difficult matter (obviously, their organizational problems are chronic). Their weeknight primetime begins from 7:30 and ends at 9:00 p.m., which is just a half the duration of the mainstream, commercial channels.

Every Saturday since May 8, Oras ng Kings — an hour-long infomercial block that promotes the eponymous Kings Herbal Food Supplement — airs at late night as the last program before sign-off at midnight. After the (most essential) DepEd TV block, do you know how many runs of Du30 on Duty have been airing during Saturday night? Two times (non-consecutively) on the hour of 9 and 10 p.m.

On Sundays, they’re a cistern of government propaganda that was initially aired on PTV but re-aired for those who wanted to catch up. They signed off at 10:00 p.m. (almost the end of primetime) Alas, they only have one network-produced program (F.Y.I.) but did they click the public? Not even a single iota, especially to those belonging to the South Triangle-minded tribes.

But the question remains: Will they ever catch up with their giant counterparts with a very limited amount of time before we choose the next president (in which, he or she will appoint all the board members of that GOCC) next year?

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Focus OTT-ward: Cignal Play

[Requested sporadically by Miggy Tapuyao]

AS I believe in the post one and a half weeks ago, digital terrestrial television (DTT) might become “obsolete” for some media enthusiasts if our national roll-out and switchover are completed by the end of — or realistically, beyond — 2023. In their eyes and minds, streaming — once, the future — is the now embracing as a staple home entertainment in their living quarters and the escape route for the impatient under the prolonged lockdown due to the pandemic.

For TV5, they already saw the potential back in 2019 — a year before COVID languished and the premeditated fall of the broadcast behemoth. Originally, Cignal Play was exclusive for Cignal and PLDT subscribers; today, it becomes an OTT service for everyone.

According to our Monthly Media Insight Survey (MMIS) conducted last April 19-25, Cignal Play is the third most preferred OTT/VOD streaming platform to tune or binge-watch in with 39% after Netflix (77%) and the Other One (54%).

What is Cignal Play? Is there a grace period for free access? What are their new original series in store?


Crossing the Bridge of No Return, One Year After

(NOTE: This post serves as Quarterly Open Pit No. 16. Consider this as my candid confession post; it’s hard to hold your silence but this has to be done.)

The Bridge of No Return crosses the Military Demarcation Line (MDL) between North Korea and South Korea. The name comes from the final ultimatum that was given to prisoners of war brought to the bridge for repatriation. Once they crossed the bridge, they will never go back, even if they later changed their minds.

FIFTY-TWO TUESDAYS AGO, the Philippine media industry has inevitably crossed the metaphorical bridge of no return amidst the new normal. The landscape of television has shifted forever and many of us — including yours truly — will be remembered and be traumatized.

While some audacious politicians say they’re not affected by that. It truly did. It affected not just the mental health of both those who are laid off and those who remained with more heavier workload. It also affected the job prospects (not just for Mass Communication graduates but also for Electronic Communications Engineering) and felt the chilling effect of government agencies like the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) when it comes the overall progress of digital terrestrial television (DTT) transition and the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) on their revenue stream.

While some enforce callously for closure and healing (babang luksa) tomorrow after a year, its wounds are still fresh in their inerasable memories.

While the sore winners say it’s “no big deal,” it unfolded to be a consequential move, especially in the far-flung areas.

Since the start of this year (2021), I cannot utter the name of the former TV network or its corresponding nickname anymore — and I euphemized them —  because saying its name is a “mortal sin.” Not to mention, I glaringly omitted their programs and/or described them indirectly. (Reminder: I didn’t include their teleseryes because it’s not our policy, enforced before 2020, to tackle upcoming and ending teleseryes in detail.)

I have imposed a “Give Chance to Others” Policy; the answer of why I’ve done that will be tackled after.

Come tomorrow, they’ll celebrate this as the “Day of Thanksgiving” with prideful taunts on the other side while ignoring their errors. In this post, I’ll tackle two invectives you probably hear from them and how I appropriated them with the current progress.


Holy Week 2021: An Extraordinary Celebration for Our Country and for Our TV

Carlos “Botong” Francisco’s “First Mass at Limasawa” depicts the first Easter Sunday service on our shores half a millennium ago. This year marks our “Great Jubilee” of the Christian faith.

THIS YEAR’S Holy Week is extraordinary. It will mark the seven-day countdown to the Quincentennial Year (the 500th anniversary) of our Christian faith in the country that will start — rather than culminating, as initially planned — on Easter Sunday on April 4.

This sacred week of Christendom happens on the last four days of March and the first four of April. Therefore, the community quarantine status of the country for the coming month would be very critical but it has been anticipated by the IATF.

In the external backdrop, the daily COVID cases across the country recently went on the upward trend (the all-time high daily cases was recorded at 8,109 just yesterday). The dreadful variants made most of the vaccines (meagerly on hand) futile in terms of efficacy; one preferred and enforced brand is questionable due to incomplete salient data. This is more worrying than when the country initially responded back a year ago and we are already suffering the fatigue (We can call it the collective carrying of our crosses).

However, the extraordinariness behind this Holy Week is not just for its monumental commemoration — in which the key theme of Missio Ad Gentes (mission to the peoples) will be integrated — and the current external situation but also on the events happening on the small screens.

Here on Timow’s Turf, our mission is to chronicle what is confirmed and to guess closely what will happen in the coming week. (Jump ahead to get with the content.)


The News and Beyond: What’s next when FTA channels are gone?

[Requested by MJH]

CASUALTY IN SHAW BOULEVARD. An internal memo from CNN Philippines said that there will be downsizing in operations on March 16 due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

THIS YEAR would’ve marked the tenth anniversary of the free-to-air news channel experiment.

However, we witnessed almost two weeks ago that GMA News TV became GTV (despite the nearly completed transition). It took them a bit more than two years after TV5’s realization in their counterpart, AksyonTV (now One Sports). The story behind their slowest realization in Kamuning-Timog Avenue doesn’t need any further explanation.

Not only that, in ten days (March 16), CNN Philippines will start retrenching some of its employees due to the impact of the pandemic after their internal memo was released to the newser outlets last month. Before this moment, one edition of their newscasts was quietly axed. How unfortunate that as they will turn six years old when this will happen as last year, the channel from Mandaluyong was twice off the air when two different employees in their headquarters in Worldwide Corporate Center tested positive for COVID-19. However, the renewed naming rights that were bestowed to Shaw Boulevard will not expire until 2024.

At first, this specific genre in a particular radio-TV frequency spectrum was used to feed news and information for the middle to lower classes as those in cable and satellite for the highest and upper-middle strata.

GMA was planning for this on Channel 11 to replace QTV last February 28, 2011, but TV5’s Aksyon TV rolled ahead by one week and ran round the clock. A few days later, Solar Entertainment Corporation launched Talk TV on SBN 21, which was inaccessible for neighboring provinces.

A year later, Talk TV became Solar News Channel and introduced their own local newscasts — in English — so that viewers can get a straightforward, broadsheet-style alternative. (Filipino newscasts did not deliver until 2016 when Pinky Webb arrived.)

The year 2013 became a turning point for the genre as Aksyon TV stopped the 24/7 operation and began to dilute their sports content after the AKTV blocktime with IBC 13 expired. Meanwhile, Solar News Channel went up to VHF territory channel 9 — which became the home of successor channels, 9TV and now, CNN Philippines.

When digital TV receivers became newfangled and commercialized in the mid-2010s, Inquirer 990 Television was launched and used to be part of BEAM’s digital subchannel lineup. Like with the Forbidden yet Unforgettable Network, their franchise expired just last year when they were off the air due to the ongoing lockdown, leaving a gaping hole for the DTT novelty channel.

As of this writing, GMA, despite the dominance, has no pure news and commentary channel and they are facing a complicated decision if they’ll try again for one of the two vacant digital subchannels left in their lawful frequency. TV5 has One PH with its operations and programming under the control of Cignal TV and PhilStar Media Group since the start of this year. CNN Philippines has integrated cartoons from Cartoon Network on the weekend daytime when there is a slow news day before their news of operation downsizing happened.

What have we learned after this decade-long run? The experiment of news channels in the free-to-air analog sphere is not successful in the long run. They are not moneymakers as news and information spread faster online, despite consumer’s need for verification.

That being said, media pundits said that pure news channels don’t exist and every channel on the common platform has to profit. As such, they are definitely profitable in the cable and satellite (cab/sat) platform for 25 years and counting. This is why in Mother Ignacia and — for those who have obvious contempt with the former — in Reliance succeeded; Kamuning never took that opportunity and waited until social media adapts to livestream.

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Photo courtesy of CNN Philippines

Timow’s QuOP No. 15 | A Different Kind of Love

[AUTHOR’S WARNING: This blog post is NOT for the ABC readers: those who are aromantic, broken-hearted and/or close-minded.]


Today, it’s all about romance and love. For the second year in a row due to the pandemic, you might go on a date right at your home and watch your favorite romantic movies — it doesn’t matter if it’s serious or cheesy.

However, for this year, we will tackle a different kind of love. A love that can shock you at first or you have seen it a few times but in a different form: boy’s love.

A DIFFERENT KIND OF LOVE. This screengrab may be seen as familiar to you — it’s a TV series from Thailand called “2Gether.” For the newcomers, this is not your ordinary series because of the genre but why such a genre may not materialize here anytime soon?

Boys Love (BL) or yaois is a genre derived from the Japanese in the 1970s (literal translation: climaxless, pointless and meaningless) where two male characters expose their homoerotic relationships. The acronymous term BL didn’t popularize until 1994 (what a surprise, my birth year). I did not encounter that particular genre until I stumbled upon DeviantArt during my teen years (the late 2000s to early 2010s) where male characters of different shows (Western or anime) strut their mind-boggling love affair. (Same applies to fan fiction websites.)

Because of the longest time lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 11 months on and counting, you might have binge-watched the series “2Gether” from Thailand or some similar series on iflix or Netflix.

However, we do have our own versions that transpired last year. You may know the online series Gaya sa Pelikula and if you were lucky to purchase a digital ticket for the digitally-modified Metro Manila Film Festival during the preceding holiday season, you may recognize the film The Boy Foretold by the Stars.

However, have we done this on our local TV airwaves like on GMMTV? We have or we had; that’s on you to decide.

My Extraordinary, starring Darwin Yu and Enzo Santiago, aired just one episode on TV5 on one Sunday late night in September. However, it pulled out afterward never to be seen again on free-to-air TV and would rather continue the series on AsterisK Entertainment’s YouTube channel and on Cignal.

A feature by Chuck Smith on CNN Philippines last April proved difficult to get the BL series into the mainstream: it’s the traditionally conservative and “restorative” culture and issues with MTRCB. In that particular piece, the culture of our common teleseryes focuses at the end — on rebuilding the family and oneself — while BL dramas focused on the process of self-journey and coming-of-age.

Even if this hidebound paradigm gets in the way, it won’t be that easy to get through it as the network executives and the production company concerned have their mutual and final say.

In this case, GMA, despite their uninhibited creative juices now, can pitch their own BL series whatever they want, whenever they want. However, they won’t be able to do so now due to the list of stalled shows waiting to be produced with possibility and permission. (Moreover, DON’T EVEN EXPECT government-owned and religious-owned networks to produce a program in this fledgling kind!)

In short, free-to-air broadcasts and traditional theatrical releases are conservative to handle (therefore, a no-no); cable/satellite channels are pretty much in the middle but online is the most liberated and the most uninhibited platform.

What do you think about the BL series? Should it prosper or should it not?

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Photo courtesy of CNN Philippines / GMMTV

Allowing Foreign Ownership or Direct Investments in the Philippine Media

[Requested by MJH]

LORDING THE HOUSE. House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco is spearheading a radical plan of action for the recovery in COVID-19 and people are still getting skeptical about this.

EARLIER THIS MONTH, House Speaker Lord Allan Jay Velasco made a pronouncement on amending our Constitution as a path to recovery from the pandemic as Moody’s Analytics feared that our country will be dead last in bouncing back among Asia-Pacific nations. Currently, they are tackled at their Committee on Constitutional Amendments with a problem on which mode they’ll use.

Whenever people think of constitutional reform or in lesser syllables, Charter Change, they are automatically associated with “term extension” for incumbent politicians who do not much represent or do not earn the trust of the public.

However, the third person in the Presidential line of succession specified that the economic provisions (a.k.a. the 60-40 rule) will be amended. The intention to place such an amendment will be put to a public vote next year, alongside the Presidential election.

It may sound radical to you, dear readers, but not for those associated with constitutional reform advocacy groups. Allowing foreign direct investments of all industries (including mass media) is a stepping stone to bounce back our economy from the impacts of the pandemic (e.g. closures of small and non-essential businesses and repatriation of OFWs).

So how does this idea apply to our sphere of mass media?

Quick PH Media History Lesson

The South Triangle Duopoly was founded initially as radio stations in Manila and were operated by American citizens. This is due to the Parity Rights approved in 1947. When President Ferdinand Marcos got his 1973 Constitution ratified (with more protectionism clauses, including mass media) and let the Parity Rights expire the year after. From that point onward, this is where Felipe Gozon and the gang stepped in to get Channel 7 from Robert “Uncle Bob” Stewart (even though the founder stayed in the country until a decade after) and the unforgettable brand of Marcosian cronyism began.

To this day, the present (1987) Charter continues the prohibition of any foreigner or foreigner to own any percentage of ownership in mass media as stated under Article XVI, Sec. 11 (1):

The ownership and management of mass media shall be limited to citizens of the Philippines, or to corporations, cooperatives or associations, wholly-owned and managed by such citizens.

(The) Congress shall regulate or prohibit monopolies in commercial mass media when the public interest so requires. No combinations in restraint of trade or unfair competition therein shall be allowed.

This provision was invoked by GMA Network’s lawyers against TV5 in 2008, which soon resulted in Channel 5’s partnership with MPB Primedia to cease and handed over to the present reins of Manny V. Pangilinan’s MediaQuest.

At the tail-end of the preceding decade, President Rodrigo Duterte accused Rappler of the allegations of being not owned by Filipinos, which a year later lost its registration with the Securities and Exchanges Commission (SEC) for issuing Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDRs). The same accusation is thrown against the Six-Letter Media Giant by Congress last year that put their lease in life as a TV broadcaster to its consequential fate.

In this living zeitgeist of the challenged yet the globalized economy, they say, Nadine Lustre-style, that it’s “2021 na, not 19-copung-copung.” For Velasco’s case, they’ll append the wordings “unless provided by law” but constitutional reform advocates (even the most hardcore ones) wanted those provisions deleted altogether.

Removing the barriers of entry doesn’t mean a sudden — albeit, gradually — the hegemonic takeover of the nearest rising superpower than the traditional one but as an encouragement to challenge head-to-head competition between their firms and ours and a means to diversify our portfolio and sources of funding. (For a start, we can make amends with Southeast Asian neighbors.)


What Would Happen in Our Media?

Tackling the pros and cons of lifting economic barriers in all industries is cumbersome but we can tackle it in one specific industry: the media industry. How will this result?

First of all, we cannot undo the specifics that they agree upon. For one, we already adopted the digital TV standard, the ISDB-T from Japan, but it significant deficiencies. Like in the Land of the Rising Sun, we are in the Pacific Ring of Fire wherein earthquakes are prone in the world. In the originating country, they already made the technology of the Early Earthquake Warning System but we didn’t due to misunderstanding with involved stakeholders (e.g. PHIVOLCS, NTC and digital TV receiver manufacturers). Nevertheless, if any of their expertise stationed here, then we could have set a clear policy for the whole Emergency Warning Broadcast System (EWBS).

Operations-wise, liberalizing the economy could mean easier content distribution. For an anime fan, they want the latest anime to reach our shores (legally) as soon as possible.

The Networks’ Response

  • Had that Six-Letter Broadcaster continued with the lease of their life in the free airwaves, they would procure high-tech cameras and their transmission equipment would’ve gone into an astounding 4K UHD quality by now and everyone else would follow. *sigh*
  • GMA’s endless promotion of Voltes V: Legacy will finally be materialized when representatives of Toei Company get the checking and supervision in-site.
  • TV5, the network that aired last year’s Asian Television Awards, will probably take some cues and best practices from their continental neighbors.
  • For CNN Philippines, they will have an easier link with the headquarters in Atlanta and other worldwide bureaus.
  • PTV will easily make partnerships with public broadcasters around the world. (Good luck getting the audience though.)



Perhaps, the best case for raising economic liberalization is due to this news. In 30 days, Disney+ will enter Southeast Asian territory, specifically in Singapore and soon in their neighbor, Malaysia. And here at home, we all just wonder why and drool with jealousy and envy.



The mistakes of 2020, including the after-effects of the pandemic, will continue to persist this year and beyond if we don’t get a course of action and this is just one of them.

Of course, removing protectionist provisions doesn’t mean we have to go with the status quo as the reformists persistently believed. Pitching to make our country business-friendly is not a simple walk in the park if the leaders and representatives do not behave well, especially with the incumbent leadership. (No wonder, they wanted a shift to a parliamentary form of governance but that would be a story for another time.)

What do you think? Is it the best time to lift the restrictive economic provisions?

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Photos courtesy of House of Representatives of the Philippines and Walt Disney Company

The Hindsight That Was 2020: How the Surviving TV Networks Fared? (Part II)

[NOTE: If you haven’t read the first part of our year-ender, click HERE before proceeding.]

“If I knew back then what I know now. / If I understood the what, when, why and how. / Now it’s clear to me. What I should have done. / But hindsight is 20/20 vision.”

~George Benson, “20/20” (1985)

THE FIRST year of the New Decade is ending. When we began, this is a year that we expected a “perfect vision” or a show of ambition and surprises. However, we did not foresee an outbreak encroaching the world.

The COVID-19 pandemic puts a halt to the production of those things we looked forward to and puts precarious precautions on the essentials. Coupling with the premeditated fall of a prominent media giant, the surviving competitors fought rapaciously over broadcasting rights much worse than we initially thought or regained and repurposed.

In this two-part of the year-ender, how did the remaining TV networks respond? (NOTE: Let’s just pretend that ABS-CBN and the ZOE deal that forms A2Z are no longer relevant to discussions anymore because, well… you voted for it, you asked for it.)

In the second part, we will tackle the minor networks that garnered significant differences this year.

IBC 13

The real antipode to the fallen media giant regained prominence but not similar to its former glory nearly half a century ago. Instead, the neglected and utterly forgotten state-sequestered TV network was repurposed into a distance learning channel through DepEd TV from Monday to Saturday daytime. The biggest sacrifice, other than ending EZ Shop, is they have to pull the plug on El Shaddai after 28 years and the plan of SMAC Television Production’s Gen Z-hosted and performed noontime show.

In August, the worker’s union claim of perennial mismanagement was at a bad timing as it was eclipsed by the PhilHealth money heist. First, the reported amount of unpaid benefits since 2008 was P 278 million but that was just peanuts compared to PhilHealth’s P 15 billion. Second, PhilHealth’s theft has a much indirect effect on workers; public and private workers around the country are affected since we indirectly pay their premium contributions from our paychecks (they’re mandatory). Third, PhilHealth matters because of universal health coverage that any member would come to their aid when they get sick (especially with the lingering pandemic) as IBC is supposed to convey delivery of education and information.

While their broadcast franchise doesn’t expire until 2025, privatization is the obvious solution to end the myriad of problems but considering the current situation, the initiative couldn’t push anytime soon or worse, it won’t pursue anymore if DepEd TV becomes a permanent staple (which, in fairness, is a much better use of airtime than showing replays of government propaganda shows and home shopping but we’re in doubt over their financial standing).


The pandemic has introduced the daily Laging Handa public briefing since mid-March but it veered away from its intention from being an information handler when it comes to the virus into a front act for Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go.

One personality was no longer seen this year: Jules Guiang. The only dissenter in the roster of talents spilled his outspokenness on Twitter by comparing the labor issues of his employer and the fallen media giant which led to his consequential exit that exposed the true colors of Vasra’s broadcast and internal company culture.

During the budget hearing for the Presidential Communication Operations Office (PCOO) in the House of Representatives last September 10 (the same day the National Telecommunications Commission revoked the frequencies of ABS-CBN after an absence of a valid franchise), Secretary Martin Andanar wanted to compete with commercial broadcasters. Why now? Whatever happened to the fully-fledged public broadcaster promised in President Duterte’s maiden SONA four years ago?

Last December 5, PCOO inaugurated the Mindanao Media Hub in the President’s bailiwick in Davao City.

By this time, they are planning to air a noontime show with a working title, Good Laughternoon. The hosts are mostly from participants of Miss World Philippines and comedians who were formerly employed by Allan K’s two closed comedy bars (Klownz and Zirkoh).

CNN Philippines

This channel is barely changing operations-wise, other than the focus on the pandemic coverage and the entry of Rico Hizon. Twice the channel went off the air because of the presence of COVID-positive employees in their HQ in Shaw Boulevard, Mandaluyong and thus, they have to be disinfected.

During the U.S. presidential debates season, they are very interrupted due to daily issues here at home like the Speakership show and red-tagging personalities.

At the moment, no room for improvements has been recommended or formulated — even though they have slight drift (i.e. cartoons from Cartoon Network) from living up to its name for pure news and public affairs.

NET 25

Another prominent TV network that gained attention this year is this UHF TV network near Templo Central in Commonwealth.

During the dual period, they aired a talent show (Tagisan ng Galing) and a noontime show (Happy Time), starring Anjo Yllana, Janno Gibbs and Kitkat. Robin Padilla has two projects from this channel — Unlad: Kaagapay sa Hanapbuhay (an informative program) and Kesayasaya (a musical sitcom).

Two instances are arising from the fallout of Mother Ignacia: the entry of Vic De Leon Lima in their flagship newscast Mata ng Agila; and few versatile talents starring on their first teleserye Ang Daigdig Ko’y Ikaw.

Two prominent beauties came to this network: Emma Mary Tiglao joined the early evening newscast while PBA courtside reporter Apple David became one of the presenters of the breakfast show Pambansang Almusal.

Net25 has promising program offerings this year — even the contemptuous due to obvious religious alignment — but not everyone can reach this network. Despite being the pioneer network in our country’s digital terrestrial TV, they are barely accessible on the free and digital airwaves.

You have to rely on cable (depending on where you live) and on social media with a dependable internet connection.


For 2020, Solar Entertainment is eating their humble pies after losing the carriage disputes of NBA and the ambitious Easy TV offerings since last year. This year, ETC continued such feasting. This channel’s offering was intentionally targeted for feminine and young adult demographics; this year, it into a significant channel drift by adding an old Filipino classic film block called ETCinema and a Tagalog-dubbed Turkishnovela (Endless Love) in their ETCerye.


If a wanderer is portrayed as a digital TV channel, then Broadcast Enterprises and Affiliated Media (BEAM) fit the bill.

These past few years, their channel serves as a digital TV playground where they have no defined purpose than GMA or NET 25 — call it an experimental laboratory, if you will.

This year, two events transpired for that company. On July 30, their broadcast franchise was renewed for another 25 years after affixing President Duterte’s signature. Three months later, the Chooks-to-Go 3×3 tournament gets a dedicated subchannel from this network.

That Being Said…

The year 2020 will forever be an exceptional year and a turning point. EXCEPTIONAL, where the way of life is significantly different than before and a TURNING POINT, where one major player’s fall has made a domino effect on our media consumption.

Few things will be sure arising from the lessons of this sagacious year:

  • There will be an overall setback in terms of broadcasting innovation.
  • The analog switchover (initially scheduled for end-2023) will certainly push anew to an indefinite date.
  • This will signal a sudden acceleration of younger demographics (from the younger half of millennials onwards) abandoning free TV and move on to online streaming (e.g. Netflix, iWantTFC or Kumu) — after attending online classes or working from home.

To paraphrase a quote from Spanish filmmaker Antonio Banderas, people are not that patient anymore.

So what will 2021 bring us? We don’t know but we have crossed the bridge of no return.


I thank the 200+ Facebook users who like our Page, which total to 505 likes.

I thank the following people that defined 2020 for me: Miguele Torres, Rey Refran, Jayson Bustamante and Zyle Samuel A. Hernandez. I also want to thank Trendrod Box for being a complement to this one-man band of a project.

In Twitterlandia, Prof. Danilo Arao, Peter Cayton and JP Tanyag.

Have a healthy New Year. We shall reclaim!

This 2021, continue to like Timow’s Turf on Facebook

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A Different Christmas: The Traditional, Unofficial PHTV Holiday Programming Guide for 2020-2021

LONG BEFORE the surreal and baffling RC Cola commercial, a public service advertisement that forever etched the minds of childhood said that after a tumultuous year, the country needs a “different Christmas.” In that ad, the drawing of Santa Claus at the start was erased and replaced with significant details to become Jesus Christ.

That concept was made somewhere in December 1997 — at the height of the Asian financial crisis but the message remains applicable now with the global pandemic.

To our dear readers, this is the first Christmas of the new decade and yet, this is also the first under a new violent shift in Philippine television.

The events you always looked forward to during the Yuletide season might not happen this year. Despite that, the Turf’s tradition continues to chronicle the insights for the outlier.

This year, we will classify them into categories that will transpire from today (December 11) until January 3, 2021.

The Programming Situation Right Now

After a few years’ hiatus, the Christmas Cartoon Festival Presents on GMA is back, serving as a comfort show for kids and kids at heart akin to the Yule Log and classic holiday specials in the United States. On weeknights, Paano Ang Pasko becomes TV5’s first Christmaserye, as part of Primetime Todo (the third wave of the network’s local entertainment renaissance this 2020).

12.12 Sale Super Show

The two super shows from two leading e-commerce platforms (Lazada and Shopee) are in one national TV network — GMA. (Duh, do we even have a choice?) Tonight, Lazada — despite Kathryn Bernardo (a local brand ambassador but a Kapamilya) and Lee Min Ho (the regional ambassador) — will have a star-studded special counting down to the big day (in place of Bubble Gang?) while Shopee will go all out in the late morning on that big day before Eat Bulaga!

Two days ago, Kris Aquino — the other ambassador for Shopee — appeared on TV5’s Lunch Out Loud to win prizes for solid Kapatids. (Is that a hint for next Christmas that TV5 will take Shopee while GMA gets Lazada?)

Shows Ending

One local show will end at the two-week holiday period wherein they are generally not concluded. The local adaptation of the Korean drama Descendants of the Sun on GMA — whose production was stalled but resumed last November — will wrap up on the night of Christmas Day.


Categories in Concern

Entertainment Gatherings

Due to the community quarantine regulations under the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF), mass gathering events during the holidays — from network Christmas specials to New Year’s revelry — are forced to be canceled, downscaled or go fully virtual.

At this usual time, the annual Kapamilya Christmas special in Smart Araneta Coliseum would’ve drawn a spectacular audience with enthusiastic screams from fangirls holding up their fan signs as their favorite love teams performed. Now, the media conglomerate fell down and the Big Dome is dead silent. It continues in their Broadcast Center and will be aired online and cable on December 20 but not in A2Z. (Had it not for COVID-19, GMA could’ve done that in their own backyard while TV5 is still on revival mode.)

This year’s Giant Lantern Festival, which is the only live non-news telecast of CLTV, is scaled down digitally with seven barangays participating this December 16 (the first day of Simbang Gabi).

Meanwhile, traditional and the grandest star-studded New Year’s countdown on GMA, held usually on the grounds of SM Mall of Asia, may be forced to lock into their headquarters in Kamuning.

The 46th Metro Manila Film Festival

For the first time in 45 years, the country’s Yuletide film festival goes online through Upstream PH.

This year, they, three stars — Vic Sotto, Coco Martin and Vice Ganda — of opportunists are NOT coming to the very first fully digital iteration. The first one is a senior citizen, the second doesn’t have enough time to do so due to taping protocols and the last one didn’t finish the film on time despite the organizing committee’s approval. All of them impliedly realized that running movie houses below full capacity meant less revenue in their pockets as loyal fans can’t go out due to the fears of the virus. Not to mention, the last two lost their means to promote their wares had the contagion not happened.

Therefore, the lineup of 10 films (including four originally slated for what would have been their inaugural Summer edition) would be deemed the next best since the 2016 edition.

The two major events of the festival: the Parade of Stars and the Gabi ng Parangal (Awards Night) will go virtual. The Awards Night usually comes on the third day of the festival (i.e. December 27) is, fortunately, falling on a Sunday; it would mean TV5 has some free time on primetime (they can substitute Onstage).

Religious Gatherings

This is Quiapo Church last Friday (Dec. 4) for the final First Friday Mass of 2020. The devotees outside the church complied with physical distancing protocols. If this can be done, then what more from December 16 to 24? (Photo courtesy of GMA News / Danny Pata)

Even though the whole country is mostly under Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ) — Metro Manila is at a higher level (GCQ) — religious authorities still take no chance when it comes to dealing with the pandemic and religious gatherings including the unique tradition of Simbang Gabi.

In pre-COVID and the old Philippine TV network rivalry, ABS-CBN was the leading network when it comes to airing the novena Masses for those who can’t come physically to their local churches (in addition to the Christmas Midnight Mass and New Year’s). Now, under a limited reach and in fading memory, they cannot be aired on A2Z due to religious stipulations with Zoe Broadcasting Network Inc. but it can be done on their Kapamilya Channel on cable and satellite, it may be aired on Kapamilya Online Live.

For those who don’t have cable or satellite or the luxury of livestreaming but you own at least a digital TV receiver, TV Maria, under RJ DigiTV, is there to cover but often, their digital coverage (the signal and quality) is not satisfied. Therefore, TV5 must take the initiative but they have to go before the daily Word of God Network program or in substitution thereof, which in turn comes before Ted Failon and DJ Chacha sa Radyo simulcast (on weekdays) and cartoons (one Saturday). One can be determined through a hint in their movement music video, which is deemed sufficient as a Christmas station ID for the network.

In the Vatican this year, due to the severe second wave, you will neither see a jam-packed public audience inside St. Peter’s Basilica nor outside at St. Peter’s Square to see Pope Francis saying the Mass (early morning, Christmas Day, our time) and receive the Apostolic blessing later in the noon (7:00 p.m. local), respectively. Normally, CNN Philippines covers these two events live and GMA does it combined and taped-delayed before they sign off for their broadcast day. Will both networks continue the tradition?


PBA has just finished its 45th season with one conference — the Philippine Cup — where Barangay Ginebra San Miguel defeated TNT Tropang Giga in 5 at the AUF Sports Arena & Cultural Center in Angeles City (serving as the league’s bubble).

Meanwhile, NBA’s slightly reduced regular season (72 from the usual 82) will kick off on December 23 (our time) for the first time on the Kapatid network. The traditional Christmas Day games will continue with, fittingly, one game on the main channel as it falls on Saturday and another on One Sports.

Commemorations and Situations Re: the Country

Commemorations involving the country like Armed Forces Day (December 21) and Rizal Day (December 30) would be downscaled or be canceled. Generally, PTV is responsible for coverage as long as the main star — President Rodrigo Duterte — is present at the ceremony wherever he may be.

However, his focus will be the declaration of community quarantine status throughout the country for the first month of the New Year. This will likely be announced on the last Monday of the year (December 28) — during the weekly late-night session.

In the old normal, the primetime Lotto draws on the eve of Christmas and the New Year comes early so that PCSO employees and lottery agents can come home to prepare and to spend with families as no sales and draw are conducted the following day. Will this arrangement happen even in the new normal?


Year in Retrospect?

From December 26 to 31, a retrospect of this year would normally be made in certain programs as having a network’s year-in-review special on a Sunday night is a thing of the past. Given the heavily-defined circumstances that transpired this 2020, some programs (and some bloggers and other outlets) will be skipped but others (including us) will strive to continue.

For one, Atom Araullo Specials on GMA will present Dos Mil Bente this Sunday (December 13) afternoon but the saying “Expect the unexpected” will resonate with the two and a half weeks remaining of the year.


What We Can All Agree? What’s Next?

Despite our differences, we can all agree that this Christmas is not the same as it was before with our old habits and scenes we are used to like traffic rush, crowded malls and packed hangouts. Moreso, our TV landscape has the same atmosphere.

Can the next year’s holiday programming insights be better under the post-new normal arrangement? We’ll all see.

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Featured image courtesy of Gerd Altmann / Pixabay

Other photos are courtesy of GMA