television industry

After CNN PH closure, Manny Pangilinan’s TV5 launches RPTV on Channel 9

Isagani de Castro Jr.

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After CNN PH closure, Manny Pangilinan’s TV5 launches RPTV on Channel 9

PARTNERSHIP. Manny Pangilinan's TV5 launches RPTV on February 1, 2024 following the closure of CNN Philippines the day prior.

TV5 press release

(5th UPDATE/CORRECTED) RPTV, which airs on Channel 9 on free tv, will now be the dedicated channel of all PBA games. It will also air EAT...Bulaga and the news and public affairs shows of Raffy Tulfo and Ted Failon/DJ Chacha.

MANILA, Philippines – Filipino tycoon Manny V. Pangilinan’s TV5 has entered into a partnership with broadcast firm Nine Media Corporation following the closure of CNN Philippines (CNN PH), which used to air on RPN’s free tv Channel 9. 

In a press statement, TV5, owned by Pangilinan’s MediaQuest Holdings, announced that it had launched RPTV, the “newest free-to-air channel offering sports, news and entertainment.”

“February 1 marks another historic milestone in Philippine broadcasting as TV5 launches RPTV,” the television channel said. 

“The birth of RPTV is aligned with our commitment to elevate the standards of entertainment, sports and public service broadcasting in the Philippines,” said TV5 president and CEO Guido Zaballero. 

Under the deal, TV5 is a content provider to Nine Media through the latter’s airtime agreement with RPN, which uses Channel 9 on analog television.

RPTV will now be the new “free-to-air Home of the PBA.” It will air all PBA games live, including its 3×3 league, D-League, as well as “key sports offerings such as the PVL [Premier Volleyball League] and games of Gilas Pilipinas.” 

Based on the RPTV’s schedule obtained by Rappler, it will air PBA games, replays or live, from 4 pm to 10 pm, Mondays to Fridays, and from 3:30 pm to 10 pm, Saturdays and Sundays. 

RPTV will also air the noon show, EAT…Bulaga, the news and public service morning show of Ted Failon and DJ Chacha, and Senator Raffy Tulfo’s afternoon show, Wanted Sa Radyo

Here’s RPTV program schedule as of Thursday: 

Monday to Friday:

  • 6 am – 10 am | Ted Failon and DJ Chacha
  • 12 pm – 2:30 pm | Eat Bulaga 
  • 2:30 pm – 4pm | Raffy Tulfo’s Wanted sa Radyo
  • 4 pm – 10 pm | PBA

Saturday

  • 11:30 am – 2:30 pm | Eat Bulaga
  • 3:30 pm – 10 pm | PBA

Sunday

  • 3:30 pm – 10 pm | PBA

On analog tv, RPTV is available on Channel 9 in Manila, Cebu, and Davao; Channel 5 in Zamboanga, Channel 12 in Baguio, and Channel 8 in Bacolod. 

On pay tv, it is carried by Cignal TV, SatLite, GSat, and 300 cable satellite providers nationwide. It also streams live via Cignal Play’s OTT app. Depending on the area, RPTV may be available on digital set-top boxes Channel 19 and Channel 18.3. 

Nine Media, the company behind CNN PH, used to pay RPN, a former government-controlled TV network, at least P8 million monthly in airtime fees. Since opening in 2015, CNN PH had never been able to turn a profit. Its losses had ballooned since opening in 2015, including P107 million in 2022, leading to its closure on Wednesday. CNN Philippines’ website and social media presence were also no longer available on Thursday.

What the launch of RPTV means

RPTV appears to be Pangilinan’s accommodation of the PBA, after TV5 dropped last year the airing of live PBA games to put more focus on news and entertainment, especially after comedians Tito Sotto, Vic Sotto, and Joey de Leon moved EAT…Bulaga to the Kapatid network starting July 1. The trio had a bitter dispute with TAPE Incorporated’s owner, former congressman and ex-convict Romeo Jalosjos, on how to run Eat Bulaga!

Pangilinan is the Philippines’ biggest sports patron, especially to the Philippine national team, Gilas Pilipinas. He has three teams in the PBA – Meralco Bolts, TNT Tropang Giga, and NLEX Road Warriors. 

PBA games used to be carried live on TV5, but it got in the way of ABS-CBN’s popular teleseryes shown on TV5, which affected the Kapatid channel’s prime time ratings. 

Since PBA games generally rate well only when Barangay Ginebra plays, it was not bringing in enough advertisting revenues to TV5, which then thought it best to just give it up and look for other free tv platforms for PBA games. TV5 used to be focused on sports and news under former Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes, but this programming ended up as a big flop and forced the network to shift back to entertainment and news. 

In October 2023, TV5 entered into a deal with evangelist Brother Eddie Villanueva’s Zoe Network wherein the latter would air PBA games live on its A2Z channel starting in November 2023 for the PBA Commissioner’s Cup. 

Making sense of the PBA-TV5-A2Z basketball content deal

Making sense of the PBA-TV5-A2Z basketball content deal

Last December 22, TV5 also entered into a deal with Nine Media on airing the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Season 48 and E.A.T.…Bulaga on CNN Philippines’ weekend programmng starting January 6, 2024. This has now been expanded with the launch of RPTV. 

RPTV could improve the PBA live games’ and E.A.T.…Bulaga’s ratings, but perhaps only minimally due to RPN Channel 9’s limited reach. Since EAT…Bulaga moved from GMA-7 to TV5 last July, it’s ratings edge over TAPE’s now-renamed noon show on GMA-7, Tahanang Pinakamasaya, and ABS-CBN’s It’s Showtime has not been significant enough to advertisers.

RPTV also signifies the growing content of MVP’s MediaQuest Holdings, which allows TV5 to experiment with programming on free tv. On Thursday, RPTV aired a rerun of BuKo Channel’s gag news show BalitaOneNan starring comedians Alex Calleja as “Seph ‘Patola’ Balimbing,” Jervi Li as “Kaladkaren Dadilat,” Wally Bayola as “Migs ‘Reaksyon Man’ Mamaril” prior to EAT.…Bulaga

This pre-programming tack may be able to help improve E.A.T…Bulaga’s ratings. BuKo Channel is Cignal TV and APT Entertainment’s comedy channel. 

Whether the launch of RPTV will improve TV5’s and Nine Media’s bottomlines remains to be seen given that advertisers continue to put more money on digital platforms than on television. MediaQuest has been trying to make TV5 a profitable venture since acquiring it for P5 billion from ABC Development Corporation in 2009.

Television viewership has plateaued in recent years, even declined, especially after ABS-CBN lost its broadcast franchise in 2020. GMA Network’s GMA-7, with its stronger reach on analog as well as digital tv, now dominates the broadcast industry followed by Pangilinan’s TV5. ABS-CBN, meanwhile, has become a content provider to various platforms, including A2Z, GMA Network, and TV5. 

Aside from TV5, Pangilinan’s MediaQuest Holdings’ media interests includes Cignal, Philippine Star, BusinessWorld, Radyo5, One Sports, Sari-Sari Channel, National Broadcasting Corporation, Unitel Straightshooters, and Epik Studios. – Rappler.com

(Editor’s note: Earlier versions of this story reported that the agreement on RPTV was between TV5 and RPN. A MediaQuest/TV5 press release sent to Rappler on February 6 said the agreement is between MediaQuest/TV5 and Nine Media through the latter’s airtime agreement with RPN.)

FAST FACTS: The media industry’s struggles amid CNN Philippines’ closure

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Isagani de Castro Jr.

Before he joined Rappler as senior desk editor, Isagani de Castro Jr. was longest-serving editor in chief of ABS-CBN News online. He had reported for the investigative magazine Newsbreak, Asahi Shimbun Manila, and Business Day. He has written chapters for books on politics, international relations, and civil society.