[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.
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.
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.
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?
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:
Photo courtesy of KWIQ.com