What I would do if I were GMA boss

Last week, this blog and Ralph Domingo’s From the Tube discussed and enumerated GMA Network’s present and persistent problems which aims to debunk their never-ending claims to the leadership of the ratings game in Philippine broadcast television. (to fantards reading this thinking na may pinapanigan kami, sorry na lang kayo.)

This time I would like to enumerate my plans if given the chance to run the network, and probably to that effect finally giving substance to claims of being number one.

End the blocktime agreement with Zoe, and relaunch GMA News TV

In 2004, GMA Network and Jesus Is Lord Movement-owned Zoe Broadcasting entered into a long-term airtime lease agreement wherein Zoe retains ownership to the franchise of Channel 11’s frequency while GMA leases its airtime and manages its marketing.

The deal was put into effect when GMA launched QTV which was originally intended to a female audiences. Despite good programming and decent ratings (even clinching the 3rd spot in the short term), high costs and low returns finally put a dent in its performance.

Hence, in 2011, QTV ceased operations and was relaunched as GMA News TV. Initially a promising station as it draws on GMA News’ wide resources and its recognizable Serbisyong Totoo brand, in the end it ended up as a disappointment with its inaction during select special events coverage and the notable inclusion of non-news related programming, along with the inclusion of sign-on and sign-off hours.

A possible solution to this problem is finally abandoning the VHF band and instead relaunch GMA News TV (maybe rebrand it simply as GMA News) on digital television and online. GMA will tap on the great potential of digital television with its clear, crisp signal and even make use of the Emergency Warning Broadcast System (EWBS) and Broadcast Markup Language (BML) features to the benefit of the viewers. We’ll also make use of the internet to further expand GMA News TV’s reach, as more people consume news content online and on the go, and because it is on the go. This is what CBSN (CBS News’ online news channel) is doing.

As for the present format of “GMA News TV” (or former Q), we can revive it on DTT by launching GMA Life TV in the Philippines.

Enter into a strategic partnership with Solar

GMA Network’s partnership with Solar Entertainment is present during Sen. Manny Pacquiao’s boxing matches as well as select special events, including the just-concluded Miss Universe 2016, but we would like to expand it into a long-term agreement, most especially during sporting events, given the high costs of procuring the rights to broadcast international sporting events and producing local sports properties.

I’d like to see GMA and Solar to team up in acquiring the rights to broadcast the PBA, Philippine Super Liga, NCAA to name a few local sports events but we’ll also acquire the rights to broadcast FIBA, the WWE, and others.

To further expand our presence in cable, maybe acquire a 50% stake in Solar and give the Tiengs management positions in the new GMA.

Revitalize the regional and radio networks

In 2015, GMA cut back its regional operations in an effort to save costs. As a result, the stations in Iloilo, Ilocos, Naga, and Cagayan de Oro were downgraded while the originating stations in Dagupan, Cebu, and Davao limiting its original programs to daily newscasts. This severely affected GMA’s presence in the regions.

GMA under our management will once again kick-start expansion efforts in the regions and extensively promote ourselves. We’ll expand the production of local in-house programming and even launch a channel on DTT focusing on regional programming. By contrast to ABS-CBN Regional Channel, this GMA regional channel will be similar to the American broadcast networks devoting time to regional and national programming.

As for radio, we will rebrand DZBB as GMA News Radyo, once again drawing from GMA News’ wide resources and providing GMA News TV a complementary medium. We could possibly retain Barangay LS but maybe rebrand and reformat it as something else.

Massive overhaul of programming

Our GMA’s programming will greatly deviate from its present grid. GMA will stop trying to imitate whatever ABS-CBN has to offer and instead counter everything ABS-CBN and TV5 has to offer.

Our GMA will spearhead weekly programs, a daily news-talk program on primetime, a talk show on Saturday night, a transfer of Bubble Gang to Sundays, and some other changes to programming.

We’ll fire Lilybeth Rasonable and appoint Tony Tuviera and Malou Choa Fagar as replacement content officers. We’ll entrust production to some of GMA’s directors (Mark Reyes, Dominic Zapata, and others).

Other improvements

To better improve the stars’ quality and to protect them, we’ll get directors Bb. Joyce Bernal and Jose Javier Reyes. 

GMA will also get greater access to financing by occasionally borrowing from banks and ensuring they’re paid on time and invite possible investors like Ramon Ang, SM, and Globe.

We’ll finally launch an online streaming service to be dubbed GMA Online so everyone can enjoy programs anytime, anywhere without ever relying on pirate sites and YouTube. This also has livestreaming of Channel  7 which the present management refuses to do.

GMA Records will promote original Filipino music not only in Tagalog but also local languages like Cebuano. GMA Films will be tapped to produce made-for-TV movies, and also improve GMA’s international television channels.

These are only some of what I propose or intend to do with GMA, if only given the chance. Maybe this will give the present management ideas on how to improve themselves before they decide to sell. There’s not much we can do about it, but who knows? Let’s see.


GMA needs rehab (#NumberOnePaMore)

Towards the end of the previous year I promised that I will make a piece on the present state of GMA Network, with their incessant claims to leadership despite the opposite. (Only in Mega Manila. You have a major problem in the provinces. Di kami may sabi nyan.)

(Please lang GMA, tigilan niyo ito.)

Ralph Domingo’s From the Tube did his piece already with the major points perfectly elaborated (labor issues, retrechments, the reluctance to invest on talent and digital broadcasts, et al.) I will just have to add mine.

There are only two things that can substantiate their claims. One is their clear signal thanks to the Tower of Power, and second is its news department which by far has received many accolades (that said even in news they have problems. Saan ka ba naman kasi nakakita ng news channel na may Koreanovela at pelikuka, diba?).

There is also this unforgivable practice of converting their programs to standard definition despite the use of high-definition cameras. Ang panget kaya tignan. We’re in the age of transition at napapag-iwanan kayo!

No livestream, no focus on DTT, cringeworthy concepts, worst of all, GMA boasts of the worst fantards. Inggit? Di niyo lang kasi tanggap ang totoo. 

What needs to be done here? GMA has to sell NOW. Try to renegotiate with Globe, Ramon Ang, enter into a strategic partnership with SM, Solar, or APT.

Or just maybe..

GMA’s stocks are sold for just around P6 per share. Bili kaya ako ng stocks? Malay niyo naman. Hehe

I rest my case. Soundtrip muna.

UPDATE (10-23-18): Hindi pa kayo marunong mag-ingat ng artista. Tignan niyo, nawala na si Regine.

Ang nakakairitang telco system sa Pilipinas

Ano mararamdaman mo kapag nakaranas ka ng sobrang bagal na internet at sobrang bagal na customer service? Tapos yung ikaw na ang naperwisyo ikaw pa ang pagbabayarin? Nakakainis diba? 

That exactly was our experience. Common knowledge naman sa atin na ang internet sa Pilipinas ay isa sa pinakamabagal sa Asya pero isa rin sa pinakamahal. At marami sa atin ang nagtitiis na lamang sa free data no wonder kung bakit nagkalat ang mga kung anu-anong bagay na nakakasira ng utak. Yung feeling na pinagtutulung-tulungan tayo ng major telcos (Smart, Globe, PLDT, Sky)

Noong 2014, nagswitch kami sa SKYbroadband dahil nabagalan kami sa internet ng PLDT. So far so good naman ang speed, kahit minsan bumanagal din. 3mbps for 999. 

Fast-forward at ito na ang major turnoff. February 2016 nang magdecide kami na pag-isahin na lang ang cable and internet connection namin para isahan na lang. Upgraded pa ang cable plan namin para at the same time nakakanood kami in HD (Super Saver 1299 siya noon, 2mbps na net at free 549 cable plan).

Hanggang noong December 2016, biglang nawala ang internet namin. Dun na lang namin nalaman na may utang daw kami. P10,711 ata yun. Paano nangyari yun? At bakit namin babayaran yun? Huli na raw kami nagbayad noong Dec. 2015 pa daw. Supposed to be pinuputol na within 2 months. Eh nakapag-internet pa kami hanggang nung December ng isang taon? Makakapagmura ka talaga ng malutong. 

Yung isa pang nakakainis yung follow-up ka ng follow-up pero wala namang nangyayari. Isang buwan na huy! Tapos malalaman mong hanggang sa hindi “settled” ay di nila aayusin yun? Sila na nga tong nakaperwisyo sila pa maninigil? Rebate naman dyan oy. 

Sobrang naiinis ako halos itsa-itsahin ko na ang router at napapagalitan na ako ng nanay ko dahil baka madagdagan ang bayarin dahil nasira. At sa kakapa-follow up ko ay pati pangalan ni Duterte nahihila na dito. (Lopez may-ari ng SKY diba? And SKY is a sister company of ABS-CBN. Lagot!) Ewan ko na lang sa mga Globe at PLDT users dyan baka ganyan din experience niyo.

Di lang dito natatapos kalbaryo ko. Ngayon nagtitiis na lang ako sa tig-50 na load ng SMART. One day, 40 mb. Ang kunat. Tapos ubos na agad.

Dagdagan mo pa ng sobrang kunat na tig-30 minutes na free WiFi ng Globe. Sa SM o sa ibang lugar free 1 hour. 

Yung ang bagal-bagal na nga, ang kunat-kunat, mahal pa babayaran mo (sa Singapore nga P1,500 50GB na eh). Tapos kapag nagkaproblema, aabutin pa ng isang buwan.

Pag di pa nagbago sitwasyon dito, ay ewan ko na lang. Pero di ako magrarant ng ganito kapag ok pa internet namin eh ano? Wala eh, inano kami ng billing eh. Akalain mo, paano ka magkakautang ng ganun kalaki eh di naman lumalabas sa bill? Tas para i-reconnect pababayaran sa inyo?

Kainis na ah. Ang tagal. 

My Take: How to effectively counter a potential ouster plot

With social media abuzz with the so-called #LeniLeaks, i.e. the supposed exchange of messages between journalists working for 2 respectable media institutions, leaders of overseas Filipino groups, and the office of the second highest position in the land. If these are verified, as some top Duterte apologists (Thinking Pinoy, Sass Rogando Sasot, and others) allege, there is indeed a serious plot to remove the duly-elected president and reinstate the old political establishment, again evoking the narrative of a “fight between evil and good, democracy vs. dictatorship”. 

Before I start, let me be clear. I have promised myself to remain silent and keep my views to myself and a select few to avoid getting involved in this increasingly bitter discourse. And both sides (dilaw and DDS) are playing a sinister game. I just want to stay in the middle and go on with my life. 

Now, in the event these plots are put into motion, I will offer myself to put up a resistance to these plots. Here are those: 

  1. Go out and be involved. They were able to organize people to get out on the streets during protests against the burial of former president/dictator Ferdinand Marcos. Personally, I’m opposed to the move but there’s nothing we can do. (It really was meant to be in opposition to Marcos but some placards have strayed from the original motive.) You may be laughing at them because they were only able to mobilize some 5,000-20,000 people. But counterprotests of so-called “Duterte Youth” gathered only 8-10 people, giving them the impression “they are only many in cyberspace but do not even turn out when the time comes.” This is time for you to prove them wrong. If you are truly concerned for the welfare of this country and if you do not want an ouster plot to materialize, get out there.
  2. More media exposure. You are enraged your voices are not being heard by mainstream media yet you still get their news from them. It’s time we have to develop state media (PBS & PTV) and support alternative outlets which you feel will hear you. At the same time, you have to be extremely vigilant, be careful of the news you consume because these may be hoaxes or meant to distract you (like those click-bait fake news sites). They have access to international media (CNN, The Guardian, BBC, others) and you’re enraged they’re not listening to your side of the story and their reports do not reflect your genuine sentiments. Should they not listen, you have Channel NewsAsia, Russia’s RT or Sputnik, or China’s CGTN. They might listen.
  3. If the ouster plot materializes, give them a headache. If ever the succeed in this plan to oust the president, you should recognize they have disrespected the your mandate. 30 years after the EDSA revolution and 2 Aquinos in Malacañang yet you have failed to reap the fruits and only benefitted the political establishment, yet the same establishment would want to take it away from you. Engage in civil disobedience and show them you will never let this pass.

Personally, I have given Robredo the benefit of the doubt and even dismissed the claims she cheated her way to the Vice Presidency. I even hoped she would be sincere and be as hardworking as the President, she is willing to set aside personal differences to have a working relationship, but subsequent events proved me wrong. In my personal opinion, we wouldn’t even be in this mess had Alan Cayetano successfully convinced people he would make a good VP. Moving back, I always had the suspicion the “yellows” will try to devise a plot to remove President Duterte from office but I don’t think it will ever push through because it would be so stupid and tantamount to political suicide. With 8 out of 10 Filipinos giving their support, that is according to a recent survey by Pulse Asia, and the number of achievements within 6 months, and much of the people losing trust with the Liberal Party, and with Robredo having a rather lackluster performance (despite efforts showing the opposite), this will give them a very hard time in convincing people the president has to step down. They have nothing to blame but themselves on why we ended up in this situation.

In light of these developments, we have to stay vigilant because it will get more interesting as time goes by. Whether these allegations will be confirmed or not, this will further stain the credibility of the vice president and the Liberal Party by extension. Best hopes, this never pushes through, if they do, all we have to do is resist.

Note: As much as I wanted to avoid openly speaking out to avoid being caught in the political crossfire, I think it is best to speak out as these events are not helping the country. Despite some reservations over the President’s present policies and his brash manner, I still maintain my support and will not accept any attempt to reverse the verdict of the people expressed in the May 2016 elections. I will maintain an assertion we will not be caught in this mess if Alan Cayetano was able to pull off a victory which sad to say he did not. The only way for one administration to succeed if his second-in-command comes from his team. The US maintains a joint-ticket in elections, presumably to avoid these situations. Bongbong Marcos would have been a great vice president and appears to be willing to set aside differences but given the association with the Marcos name and efforts to abstain himself from responsibility over the atrocities committed under his father’s 20-year presidency he would have a hard time. The Liberal Party very much symbolized the political establishment and only have themselves to blame on why people resorted to populist tendencies, as is the trend across the world. 30 years since the EDSA revolution and the restoration of democracy but people have failed to reap the fruits of their newly-restored freedoms and felt it only benefitted the establishment, and this frustration gave rise to people promising swift solutions, and any attempt to reverse this in the guise of defending democracy will only be seen as an attempt at restoring the old establishment which is already in the process of being dismantled, at least in the eyes of those supporting Duterte. In this modern era where emotions trump thought, we must share a mutual responsibility in restoring this, as it will help us all. For both sides, let us not be blinded by fanaticism, instead be guarded by rationality and make sure it doesn’t violate our principles. It’s tiring. 

New friends, new partners


(The Russian Navy anti-submarine ship Admiral Tributz, as photographed, docked in Manila for a four-day goodwill visit. Photo courtesy of CNN Philippines.)

One of the first major stories of the year is the  four-day goodwill visit of the Russian Navy in Manila in an effort to expand contact and relations. This has culminated a long-standing effort of the Duterte administration to seek closer relations with the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China amid worsening relations with the United States.

Highlights of the visit were the demonstration of Russian Marines of their capabilities and skills and the press briefing held by Russian Ambassador Igor Khovaev in which he stated Russia’s intentions to aid the Philippines in its efforts to curb terrorism and maritime piracy. Russian Navy Rear Admiral Eduard Mikhailov, who lead the delegation meanwhile expressed wishes that the Philippines could conduct joint military exercise and the Philippines is free to decide whether it can pursue cooperation with either Russia or the United States and that Russia will not interfere with our decisions.

What are we going to get from this?

I see an opening of wide opportunities. The Philippines will be able to project itself as an important player in the Pacific region, the Russians seeking closer relations with Asian countries such as China and Japan as it seeks to develop its Far East regions and as a result of tensions with the West.

The Philippines will be supplied with modern military equipment in considerably cheaper prices rather than relying on second-hand equipment from the United States. We can even arrange with the Russians to have those weapons produced locally, which requires of course intensive investment.

Third, this can be seen as a sign for all players in the South China Sea to pursue a path of peace. Russia has close economic, political, and military relations with China, maintained a naval base in Vietnam, has close relations with India and Indonesia, a key player in the North Korean nuclear talks, and seeks to sign a formal peace treaty with Japan 70 years after World War II.

This will create a win-win situation to the best interest of everyone in the region. Besides, Russia have said it should not cause the traditional allies of the Philippines a huge deal of concern, and what is being offered is not a formal alliance.

In light of these developments, we must say hello to our new partners and wish us the best of luck. Spasibo and salamat!