ABS-CBN updates its digital lineup, adds new channels

Come July 30, ABS-CBN will unveil new digital channels.

Movie Central, Asianovela Channel, Jeepney TV, Myx, and O Shopping will be available via UHF 16 in Metro Manila, Rizal, Cavite, Laguna, Bulacan, and parts of Pampanga and UHF 36 in Metro Cebu.

This is seen as a response to Solar’s recent moves to make a profit off of DTT via their exclusive, subscription-only service through their Easy TV box and to respond to viewer requests to expand their offerings.

It was initally speculated ABS would use UHF 35 in partnership with El Shaddai’s DBS, but eventually decided to go their own way.

Unless our regulators take a firm stand on conditional access, expect DTT to be a new battleground in the ever-escalating feud between Solar and ABS-CBN at the expense of us, the viewing public.

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In my own words: SONA 2018

It’s the time of the year again where the chief executive will face the joint session of congress to address the nation on what achievements the government has accomplished.

While the other blog will just rant like a crybaby he truly is (and how he keeps parroting that “I told you so” line just to prove how right he was and how highly he thinks of himself, he’s getting on my nerves lately, I don’t know why, maybe because he’s taking his arrogance up a notch? Akala ko ba titigil mo na yang blog mo? Your Tagalog sucks by the way but your high-flown English doesn’t make you sound smart, it just proves how much of a know-it-all asshole you are, ciao!), I will provide insights that will be as balanced as possible.

This blog has rarely been active nowadays due to real life commitments, I’m a graduating student, and has lost interest in blogging because of a variety of reasons, and some potential backlash.

Two years ago, I was a staunch supporter of the administration, two years later, kung hindi naman tuluyang nawala, nabawasan ang suporta ko because of many factors. As a matter of fact, I even got on the nerves of some real life friends dahil paiba-iba na daw ang isip ko. In my defense, I’m putting my own principles first and I’m not thinking in purely black and white, that is critical thinking. Wala na ako dyan kung di ko man kayo makumbinsi, at least I made a point.

Another reason why I’m losing interest is that they’re not just that delivering on whatever they promised. I keep telling myself I’d rather talk about foreign politics because I can talk about it in depth without pissing people off. At natututo tayo. Federalism is trial and error with the method of government and the pacing of reforms, Chinese encroachment is overlooked, inflation and tax reform, you name it. But I don’t want to piss myself off and piss others off, all I care is that they build more trains. Sabi nga ng nanay ko, di ko naman hawak ang mga bagay na yan.

Need I say more? Di na siguro. Basta nababanas lang ako kay Timo, ay este sa isa dyan na saksakan ng yabang. Unlike that crybaby na di raw manonood pero ang lakas magmonitor sa coverage, I will watch but won’t pay that much of an attention, unless something urgent is brought up. Collective guilt mo mukha mo, Mr. Know-It-All. Someone must slap you with reality so you won’t have to pretend to be woke, di ka lang talaga mahal ng nanay mo. Umuwi ka na sa Cebu, ikaw yata long-lost child ng mga Chiong na napadpad sa Pampanga.

That’s enough for me, hanggang sa susunod kung gaganahan pa ako magsulat dito. Toxic na nga ang diskurso dito, dagdagdag pa ba ako?

Eleksyon na naman. At ang papanget ng jingle niyo.

Matapos na makailang beses na muntik hindi matuloy dahil sa pangamba na ang karamihan sa mga kandidato ay mga may koneksyon sa ilegal na droga, matutuloy na sa Lunes ang Barangay at SK elections.

At mayroon akong napapansin. Na karamihan sa mga jingle ng kandidato ay base sa mga nauusong kanta. Bboom Bboom, Naradang, Hayaan Mo Sila, Dahil sa ‘Yo ni Iñigo Pascual, Despacito, at marami pang diba. Naka-full blast pa with kasamang pa-tambol pa.

Napakabaduy, ang laking pansira. Wala ba kayo ibang maisip? Pwede naman kayo gumawa ng sarili niyong jingle diba. Pilit nakikisakay sa uso. Baka may iilang natutuwa pero karamihan nababanas.

Kung sana lang bawing-bawi sa plataporma at palakad ano?

Well, kahit di pa ako botante (kahit nasa legal na edad na ako, sa 2019 na lang ako boboto), di ko pa rin maiwasan na maglabas ng saloobin bilang Pilipino. Napakagulong pulitika. Sige na nga, sana naenjoy nyo to. Kung may iba pa kayong experience, comment lang kayo.

GMA finally catching up on digital presence

As of today, we have received information that GMA Network has finally expanded its digital terrestrial television (DTT) presence in the regions, with GMA Dagupan now seen over DTT Channel 38 (617.143 mhz, overlapping with UNTV 37’s Manila frequency).

 

Here is the post from DTV Pilipinas confirming the news.

GMA Dagupan’s digital feed can also be seen in Pangasinan, Tarlac, Benguet, Nueva Ecija, which is also covered by analog channel 10.

As opposed to ABS-CBN’s Luzon relays, it also has the advantage of simulcasting regional programming, such as Balitang Amianan. ABS-CBN should be able to simulcast their regional programs over their DTT relays in Luzon as they have better regional infrastructure.

We also expect in the weeks or months to come for GMA to activate their DTT towers in Cebu and Davao, as they have planned it for the year. This can also be seen as a preparation for their upcoming DTT product.

What if: Sampaguita and LVN during the early days of Pinoy TV

With the growth of Philippine TV impacted by the early decisions of the proponents of Philippine TV and the imposition of martial law, one couldn’t help think of what the possibilities could have been.

For those familiar with DZAQ-TV’s beginnings, in that they went to such extreme debt because of high costs of importation of equipment, because of a lack of content as they relied on borrowed embassy material and interspersed live programming, and the short-term thinking of Tony Quirino (in putting up the station in such a hurry so it would become an achievement of his brother’s administration, October 23 was close to the November 1953 elections), what if they considered to employ the help of the country’s two biggest movie outfit?

Taking into account how television in the United States got to where it is today, that is tying up with the biggest film outfits (Paramount, 20th Century Fox, MGM, Disney), what if the proponents of the first TV station in the country had the same thoughts, and maybe the dynamic of Philippine TV was somehow different from what it is now?

We may never know, but we can’t help think of the possibilities.

Leave your comments here if you somehow agree with this possibility.

On DTT encryption and the future of DTT in the Philippines

To our readers, you may have noticed that DTV Pilipinas has spoken out against the increasingly widespread practice of conditional access on digital terrestrial television, as it limits viewers’ choices of programming and forcing them to purchase network-branded products for the sake of loyalty and maximizing their bottomline.

This practice has been initiated by ABS-CBN when they unveiled their TVplus product in 2015, this is presumably to fast-track the transition to DTT and has the advantage of exclusive channels, although it lacks the other features of other boxes such as HDMI capability. It has since sold around 4 million boxes, and since it is still available at a limited scope (which is Mega Manila, Central Luzon, Northern Luzon, Western Visayas, Central Visayas, Northern Mindanao, and Southern Mindanao), maybe it is time for them to rollout their DTT service on other areas, as they must have made lots of money, right?

Then came Solar with their own dongle which is yet to hit the market. They have made their cable channels available on DTT, yet only if you purchase their product. This could be a way for Solar to get even with ABS-CBN as a result of the carriage disputes surrounding NBA coverage, but Solar must have forgotten that DTT is supposed to be free TV and NOT cable, right? This only adds to the confusion, thanks to ABS-CBN’s marketing which says, para kang nag-cable na walang monthly fee. Inaalaka tuloy ng tao na para ngang cable, eh hindi naman!

Let’s not forget GMA Network’s long-promised dongle, and has since changed its configuration to add encyrpted channels to its lineup. They may be forgetting that they have yet to expand their DTT footprint in regional areas, like Cebu and Davao, as they have promised, right?

With the major networks busy at commercializing DTT, other networks have begun embarking on expanding their footrprint to benefit viewers and markets longing to enjoy benefits of the new emerging medium. Globe-affiliated BEAM has already added Iloilo and Baguio to their digital footprint (in addition to Metro Manila, Cebu, and Davao) while state-run PTV began conducting tests in President Duterte’s hometown of Davao City. The Manila Broadcasting Company has also began to broadcast via digital in Metro Cebu (which I will look forward to watching via my DTT-capable phone once I return there for another vacation, God-willing), and local station eMedia began broadcasting in Zamboanga, not to mention Kakampi TV’s broadcasts in Digos City and Tarlac.

In a short span of two years being an enthusiast of digital terrestrial television, I have since monitored the developments in our ongoing transition, whether a new market or station has began broadcasting, or whether we will be able to complete the transition ahead of timeframe we have set, which is the year 2023, especially since September 2017, when INC TV and NET 25, the television networks affiliated with the Iglesia ni Cristo, of which I’m a proud member, began broadcasting on DTT after a few years’ absence despite being one of the trailblazers in bringing ISDB-T, which is the DTT standard we use, into the country, alongside then NBN-4. INC TV and NET 25 also holds the distinction of being able to broadcast two high-definition channels in a single frequency (though the Adventist-affiliated Gateway is also able to do such through Hope Channel and GNN). The improved picture quality is a huge boost in the Church’s propagation efforts so I will root for the expansion of the Church’s digital TV broadcast in other areas as well, though it is for the Church Administration to decide.

Looking back, with the widespread practice of encryption and the sale of network-branded boxes, they seem to be looking for short-term benefits like profits over short-term gains. Naysayers may still argue, baka gusto mo malugi or other type of defense, well, other countries may also practice encryption, but not as brazen as this! DTT is free TV, contrary to claims over somewhere over there which we will not mention. DTT’s advantage of more program choices must not be exploited for profit, as it hampers the long-term benefit for viewers and the industry in general. The boxes may be helping in fast-tracking expansion, but detrimental in the long-term.

The government and other broadcasters disadvantaged by the practice must join forces, in order for the practice stopped, for the benefit of the viewing public.

INCTV and NET25 on digital television

Screengrabs taken from our TVplus box

Since the early part of January 2018, INCTV and NET25, the television arms of the Iglesia Ni Cristo through the religious-oriented Christian Era Broadcasting Service International (which also operates DZEM 954) and the more secular-oriented Eagle Broadcasting Corporation, has began broadcasting on full 16:9 in standard definition for both analog and digital television, including cable and satellite. This is after the Church-affiliated television stations restarted full-time broadcasts on digital television on September 5, 2017.

It may also be noticed that INCTV has already been broadcasting on both HD and SD on digital television since December 2017, and while NET25 has also converted to 16:9 on standard definition, its HD version, which arguably has better quality than its SD counterpart, is yet to be seen, as for now its frequency still carries 3 subchannels.

May it also be remembered that both channels have been testing the ISDB-T standard during the wee hours (12:00mn to 4:00am) since 2015, with six subchannels (2 high-definition channels, 2 standard-definition channels, and 2 one-segment channels), as the frequency (channel 49) was being used by INCTV on analog television since 2012 until September 2017, and with this INCTV transferred its analog signals on channel 48.

INCTV and NET25 can be seen on digital television via channel 49 (683.143 mhz) in Mega Manila. Hopefully, an expansion of its signal reach as some viewers complain they are not able to receive its signals and the conversion of INCTV and NET25 to full high-definition with the elimination of the SD feeds, if not expansion to other markets like Cebu, Davao, or Baguio for example would materialize, as the digital TV signal with clear HD quality would be a great boost in the propagation efforts of the Church.

ARC Bids Farewell

After almost a year and a half of broadcasting, the ABS-CBN Regional Channel, along with sister channels Hero TV and Tag, has ceased broadcasting due to “a change in business directions”. In this piece we will discuss the various reasons why such a promising channel closed down.

Lack of programming choices

When this channel opened up, probably most of us (me included) were expecting the entire library of ABS-CBN Regional programming, alongside occasional live programming such as festival coverages and simulcasts from the regional stations, but those haven’t materialized. Also noticeable were the never-ending repeats of dubbed movies, magazine shows, MOR programs, and the airing of select TV Patrol editions.

Lack of support from the mother station

ABS-CBN Regional is also noticeably one of the least prioritized divisions of the network. When the main channel 2 is airing most of its programming on high-definition, the regional stations remains on standard definition. Also noticeable that when TV Patrol relaunched its graphics on July 2016, the rollout was slow. Even until now, TV Patrol Tacloban is still using the 2013 graphics.

Lack of distribution

ARC was only present on Sky Direct, Sky Cable and Destiny Cable Manila, and select cable providers, if any. Add to that a lack of advertiser support, these factors contributed to the channel’s demise.

This was ABS-CBN’s second experiment in having a channel broadcasting regional content, after the Sarimanok channel. ABS-CBN should be able to learn a lesson in this experience, and other networks should seize the opportunity and create a similar channel which will not fall into the same mistake.

A game pitch

We would like to use this opportunity to pitch an idea: a political simulation game where players are given the chance to run the Philippines through different scenarios, either during the Philippine Revolution, Philippine-American War, Commonwealth era, Japanese occupation, the post-war period, the Marcos years, and the post-EDSA administrations.

The players will also have the chance to play one of either the historical figures (like Bonifacio, Aguinaldo, Quezon, Magsaysay, Marcos, Aquino, etc.) or represent political parties as fictional figures (with the Nacionalistas, Liberals, Lakas-CMD, the old Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas-1930 or the more prominent Maoist CPP, and the like).

Players will also have the chance to navigate through economic and domestic policy as well as foreign policy and chart the course for our country’s development.

I am making this case because of my apparent craving for political simulation games and the disappointment that I don’t have the chance to play my own country, as well as other simulation games which requires you to pay, and in this case I would like the game to be free.

To our developers out there, I do hope you to consider this game pitch, not just for myself, but for everybody else.

With 72% of MM homes with DTT, it’s time to expand

A recent ABS-CBN News reports shows that as much as 72% of homes in Metro Manila have digitally-enabled TVs, i.e. those with set-top boxes or built-in tuners. With those figures, maybe it’s time to consider a massive expansion to the regions? 

Source: http://news.abs-cbn.com/business/10/04/17/72-in-metro-manila-watch-digitally-enabled-tv
In this article published by ABS-CBN News linked above, it shows that as much as 55% of homes without cable TVs have used their product ABS-CBN TVplus.

With these figures in mind, and with ABS-CBN hitting their targets (with 3.6 million boxes sold), ABS-CBN should probably start to consider setting up more markets for their TVplus, with the Metro Manila market becoming more saturated and other markets with digital TV presence (like Cebu, Davao, Cagayan de Oro, Bacolod, Iloilo, Baguio, surrounding provinces of Metro Manila) deserving more program choices.

The networks should set up in meeting the five-year period the NTC has given them to complete the transition, as more and more viewers being more aware and more regions waiting for their areas to be finally served, as digital TV offers clearer quality at par with cable or DTH compared with analog.

In this year alone, many developments have happened in Metro Manila. Light Network has  shut down its analog signal, Solar Entertainment increasing it power output, the MCGI launching their Truth Channel, a mystery channel appearing at channel 35, and the Iglesia ni Cristo-owned Net 25 and INC TV finally restarting digital broadcasts, while the regions are still stuck with ABS-CBN channels. 

In light of these developments, we should now start focusing in other markets and increasing coverage, it is much preferable if we meet targets in completing the transition ahead of schedule.