Christmas in Our Hearts: The Essence of Christmas in the Radio-TV Sphere

[Requested by MJH]

IT’S EXACTLY 100 days before Christmas and by tonight, every newscaster will notify them how many days are left at the end of each program. They have not yet released their Christmas IDs until by November but surely, Christmas is closer.

Jose Mari Chan, our very Mr. Pinoy Christmas, has been busy guesting in every media outlet possible since September 1st, despite his advanced age at 76 years old. Although his popular holiday album “Christmas in Our Hearts” was released 31 years ago, it has become a melodic trademark associated with the four-month-long festive season.

The lyrics of the titular hit single are definitely not secular — that role goes to “A Perfect Christmas” — but religious.

Oh boy, there goes that ear-worming lines. Even if you remove the music, you’d still sing along as you read its lyrics. 

What role did this song’s lyrics play in today’s traditional media landscape?


Can Social Media Influence the National TV Sphere?

[Requested by MJH]

WHEN PEOPLE are asked about public relations (PR), they usually have mixed feelings about them in question — whether their products or services in a firm were favorable or not — as an adage goes: “Good or bad publicity is still publicity.” 

This holds in our national television industry.

Before the Internet, the reactions to the shows and networks that had just aired were published in print (in the entertainment section in the newspapers and specialty magazines) on the next issues. Then, there was the online world; for those who remember the early days of it, PinoyExchange comes to mind, and then, Friendster.

Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram grew in popularity and diversity during the previous decade (the 2010s). As a result, entertainment department executives from various TV networks and program producers were urged to include their Facebook pages and other social media handles on their title cards, fearing that they would be out of touch.

In some cases, they put the official hashtags (HTs) for each episode on the title card before the commercial break or on the left side of their screens (as the right is reserved for the station logo and the MTRCB rating).

As a result, some users can respond by tweeting with the corresponding HT. In the perspective of a social media marketer (whether working for a program or a TV network), they purposefully select praise tweets either from a specific network’s brigade or a die-hard fan and dismiss negative criticisms, even constructive ones, regardless of validity and substance. Others, on the other hand, use the same official HTs to gain clout.

Nevertheless, it’s the dynamic marketing mix for the 21st-century viewer.

We are now in the 2020s; a fifth of the current century has been passed and this decade is still relatively new. We’ve seen how last year’s twin events — a major player’s fall and a global pandemic — caused significant setbacks and pains in the industry, although social media survives and becomes a tool for protest and reform.

How did the surviving Two Major players respond? Can they be influenced in the new course of television history for the better or the worse?


For the 3rd time, PBA trounces the Olympics on TV5

The Tokyo 2020(+1) Olympics will be the bluest in history. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Games was postponed for a year and due to threats of mutating variants, no spectators — foreign or local — will be admitted to watch the action and to support their athletes. Some important traditions — from the opening, the competition proper and until the closing — are modified to prevent the spread of the virus.

NINETEEN (19) INDIVIDUALS — competing in 11 sports — form as one Team Philippines (PHI), as they aim for the first, elusive Olympic gold medal to cheer the country up in these gloomy times. 

The delayed Tokyo Olympics will finally open this Friday (July 23) amidst no spectators; albeit, preliminary competitions have started today for football and softball.

For TV5, this is the third time — fifth, if you include the Winter Games of Sochi 2014 and Pyeongchang 2018 — they acquired the broadcast rights through Dentsu. However, this has been again obscured because the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) has just tipped off its 46th season as they try to go back to normal as they can, despite the recent internal controversies and viewership dissatisfaction these past few days. 

Unlike the NBA, our most cherished domestic league seemed to disrespect or refuse to yield to the sacred period of this international multi-sporting event. (Recently, Team USA’s tune-up exhibition games have gone bonkers with some upset losses before the competition.)

According to our Monthly Media Survey conducted just last week, the respondents were nearly unanimous (88%) that the network prioritized PBA over this two-week-long international quadrennial (in simple terms: every four years) meet.

But they are not the only league that would crash them this year, it clashed with the inaugural professional season of the Premier Volleyball League (PVL) where they are playing in Ilocos Norte. Effectively, this is a juggling act for the sports department in the Reliance/Novaliches.

Before the 16 days of action in the Land of the Rising Sun officially begins, let’s take a glimpse of the two previous Summer Games TV5 has recently handled.


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?


[LGBT Month Special / Pitch] ‘Drag Race’ in the Philippines: Is This Fetch Going To Happen?

[AUTHOR’S NOTE: In honor of LGBTQIA+ Month, Timow’s Turf will publish a prominent show that you may or may not have heard of. If you’re not interested in pop culture or not comfortable about their community, you may sashay away from this post.]

I STUMBLED UPON an article from PhilStar Life last April that the Fil-Am drag queen Manila Luzon (born Karl Philip Michael Westerberg) participated in RuPaul’s Drag Race on its third season in 2011 and became a runner-up and continued to participate in two All-Stars editions. In that article, he wished that we could have our version. 

Let’s face it, we would have not realized the existence and awareness of that show without Netflix. 

In honor of a specific community’s Pride Month, we would investigate if his wish could ever be materialized.


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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The Road to NCAA on GMA and the Foggy Foresight

IMAGINE YOURSELF back in time in the office, long before COVID-19 destroyed the normal ways of life. It was January 2020. You and your officemate conversed at the water dispenser in your office pantry about sports coverage in the post-Mother Ignacia era.

You: “Pare, gaano posible ba mag-cover ng sports ang GMA?” [Bro, how possible will GMA cover sports?]

Officemate: “Kapag lumilipad ang mga baboy.” [When pigs fly.] (sips water from his mug) 

Unfortunately for the officemate, the Kamuning Network got a sportscasting contract and his reaction would’ve been spitted either from his mouth or his nose.

The Philippines’ National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is set to tip-off at least by next month (on June 13). In anticipation of their first domestic sportscasting foray, GMA has done much to promote the Grand Old League (thanks to bottomless windfall arising from the loss of their competitor).

As of this publication, GTV is airing the primer series, “Rise Up Stronger: The Road to NCAA Season 96” (presented by Martin Javier and Sophia Senoron) to mark their hype of the first full-time sportscasting foray of GMA Network (as a corporate entity) since the 1996 NBA Finals that crowned Michael Jordan from the Chicago Bulls as the MVP. 


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.


The Turf’s Thoughts on PBA Season 46

EMBRACING TECHNOLOGY IN THE TRYING TIMES | During the resumption of PBA Season 45 in the Clark bubble last -ber months, fans come to see their favorite teams from their computer screens.

THIS WEEK — on Friday, more specifically — will mark the 46th anniversary of our Liga ng Bayan, the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA).

The corresponding 46th season of this league will tip-off in 12 days (on April 18) as initially planned by the Board of Governors but that opening game could be delayed due to the COVID surge that forced NCR Plus still into Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ); therefore, we do know that it will not go into multiple seasoned venues in that geographic area (i.e. not in Araneta Coliseum, Cuneta Astrodome or even Ynares Center).

While the logistics of venues will be managed by the Board and they might go back again to Clark, others have concerns. What challenges and thoughts are we expecting for the nation’s professional league before it tips off?