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The steadfast third player in a ‘two-network town’

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TV5's transmitter and first studio complex in Novaliches, Quezon City. This is the former corporate headquarters of TV5 from 1990 until its transfer to TV5 Media Center in 2013.

Earlier this January, the Asian Television Awards gave TV5 chairman Manny V. Pangilinan (MVP) a special award for his Outstanding Contribution to Asian Television. This has much to do with the efforts of making TV5 a competitive player on Philippine television under his chairmanship.

“[This award] is a validation for a journey that — about a decade ago — many thought as foolish to embark,” Mr. Pangilinan recalled on his speech read by TV5 Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Jane J. Basas during the awards night.

“We invested as a third player in a two-network town at the crux of unpredictable and rapid seismic changes in content creation, consumption, and human behavior. It would not have been a worthwhile adventure though if we did not have moments of trepidation.”

Since its acquirement by MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., TV5 joined an industry ruled by few, yet it has grown into a network that serves as an alternative yet worthwhile choice for the viewing public.

Under a new management in 2010, TV5 picked up from its humble yet defining beginnings when ABC 5 became TV5 back in 2008. Unfazed by the country’s reigning networks, it stepped further by providing unique programming along with fresh talent.

The revamped TV5 identifies itself as the “Kapatid” (sibling) network, with a fresh lineup of programs encompassing news, drama, comedy, and sports. Most of these have actually made a mark among viewers, such as TV5’s flagship news program Aksyon; series like Pidol’s Wonderland and Midnight DJ; and reality/game shows such as Face to Face, Talentadong Pinoy, and the Philippine version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?.

Also, in its aggressive venture to be a competitive player among the “two-network town”, TV5 was able to get a large roster of talent that brightened up the network’s offerings. These include Maricel Soriano, the late Rodolfo “Dolphy” Quizon, Sr., Vic Sotto, Joey de Leon, Paolo Bediones, Ryan Agoncillo, and Amy Perez, among many others.

Its initial years as the “Kapatid” network has seen TV5 as a fine choice for entertainment. Nonetheless, it is also remarkable for its uniquely delivered news and current affairs through News5.

It was TV5 that launched the first news-oriented station on the FM band, Radyo5 92.3 News FM in November 2010. A year later, TV5 launched AksyonTV, the first 24-hour Filipino language news channel on free-to-air TV (UHF channel 41).

TV5 has also become a household name for sport, serving as the broadcaster of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) and the Philippine SuperLiga (PSL), among other major games in the country.

The network also carried many of the world’s big sporting events, such as the 2012 and 2016 Summer Olympics; 2014 and 2018 Winter Olympics; 2014 Summer Youth Olympics; 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia; and the 2019 Southeast Asian Games.

Furthermore, with entertainment being a quite difficult area to win among viewers, TV5’s focus have gradually shifted to sports as the network’s leadership transferred to basketball coach Vicente “Chot” P. Reyes.

It was under his helm that the network partnered with the sports broadcasting giant ESPN to reinforce TV5’s sports division as ESPN5.

With this tie-up, which was kicked off in 2018, TV5 integrates its local programming with ESPN’s large roster of live sports coverages, original productions, and studio programs. It also began airing the Philippine edition of ESPN’s flagship newscast SportsCenter.

Continuing this shift, TV5’s sister channel, AksyonTV, was later on relaunched as 5 Plus, carrying non-mainstream sport and sport-related content geared towards a younger audience.

These brave moves from TV5 in the recent years not only kept the network an alternative choice on local TV. It also helped the station move forward in spite of tough competition, as Ms. Basas, who took over as TV5’s CEO and president in 2019, noted.

“TV5 has improved on a year on year basis. In terms of losses, we have been able to manage the losses again because the decision to go into sports has actually allowed us to become more efficient on how we program the grid,” Ms. Basas, who is also the president and CEO of Cignal TV, was quoted as saying in a BusinessWorld report last October.

Nonetheless, an opportunity to make TV5 more engaging to the public is seen. According to Ms. Basas, the network currently plans “to really maximize the other blocks in our daily grid to make sure that it appeals to more and more customers.” Among these blocks, entertainment programs are the priority.

“Right now we do have the primetime dedicated to sports and that will stay. News will also have to stay at the current block, but everything else, from morning to late night, is open to entertainment,” Ms. Basas said.

With the franchise of the network recently renewed, TV5’s journey continues with the determination to remain relevant and be engaging to Filipinos. — Adrian Paul B. Conoza





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