television industry

Speaker Romualdez expands media business, launches digital TV channel

Isagani de Castro Jr.

This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.

Speaker Romualdez expands media business, launches digital TV channel

NEW. House Speaker Martin Romualdez launches a new digital TV channel, Prime TV Philippines, on May 27, 2024.

Isagani de Castro, Jr./Rappler

(2nd UPDATE) DWPM 630, which airs ABS-CBN’s radio content, can now be seen on Prime TV Philippines digital television via the Ayalas' BEAM TV frequencies

MANILA, Philippines – House Speaker Martin Romualdez is expanding his media business with the launch of a digital television channel. 

Prime TV Philippines (not to be confused with Amazon’s Prime Video streaming platform) started its digital TV broadcast on May 27, Monday, as announced by DWPM Radyo 630, a station of Romualdez’s Philippine Collective Media Corporation (PCMC).

Based on announcements on DWPM, which uses the previous 630 AM frequency assigned to ABS-CBN for its TeleRadyo, the new digital channel can be seen in the following areas:  

  • Metro Manila, Cebu, Davao and Zamboanga – Channel 31
  • Naga – Channel 32 
  • Baguio – Channel 26
  • Iloilo – Channel 26

These channels use the digital frequencies of Broadcast Enterprises and Affiliated Media Incorporated (BEAM), a broadcast company wholly owned by Bethlehem Holdings Incorporated, an investee company of Ayala-led Globe Telecom Group Retirement Fund. 

Prime TV Philippines is also available on the Lopezes’ cable television, Sky Channel 21.

DWPM used to be aired only on AM radio 630 and later on YouTube, but it can now be seen on Prime TV Philippines, which also also now airs ABS-CBN’s flagship news program, TV Patrol.

Under the Media Serbisyo Production Corporation (MSPC) joint venture between ABS-CBN and Prime Media put up in mid-2023, ABS-CBN is a content provider while Prime Media handles the distribution of content. PCMC, the company that owns DWPM Radyo 630, licenses content from MSPC.

Prime Media is a subsidiary of Romualdez’s holding firm, RYM Business Management Corporation. It uses the broadcast franchise of PCMC.

FAST FACTS: Romualdez’s Prime Media Holdings Inc.

FAST FACTS: Romualdez’s Prime Media Holdings Inc.

PCMC is a media organization founded by Romualdez in 2008. It got its franchise to operate radio and television stations in Eastern Visayas during the Arroyo administration when the 14th Congress passed Republic Act 9773. On December 21, 2020, the 18th Congress amended PCMC’s franchise from regional to national, allowing it to air beyond Eastern Visayas. PCMC operates FMR or the Favorite Music Radio station, which now has stations all over the country. 

The politics of radio: New station DWPM Radyo 630 is born

The politics of radio: New station DWPM Radyo 630 is born

Prime Media has been bankrolling the operations of PCMC. In an interview with the Manila Standard, also owned by Romualdez, during the launch of FMR’s “main office” in 2021, Romualdez called FMR “one of the fastest growing radio and even TV broadcast company.”

When DWPM 630 was launched in June 2023, Prime Media later said it was only for radio. DWPM was a lifesaver for ABS-CBN’s TeleRadyo, which closed down due to financial losses.

Last April 23, ABS-CBN signed a partnership with the Philippines’ richest person, former senator Manny Villar’s ALLTV on the airing of some of its Kapamilya entertainment shows and its flagship news program, TV Patrol, on its former free tv Channel 2. Villar took over ABS-CBN’s Channel 2 frequency in 2022. The new partnership with Villar basically revived ABS-CBN’s Jeepney TV on ALL TV.

Like then-House majority leader Romualdez, Villar’s daughter, Camille, was one of 70 members of a House panel who voted against a new franchise for ABS-CBN in July 2020.

Politics of radio

Prime TV Philippines was launched with only over four months left before aspirants start filing certificates of candidacies (COCs) in the 2025 mid-term elections, which will be from October 1 to 8.

Prime TV Philippines uses the 2016 senatorial campaign colors of Romualdez – blue and orange – the same colors used by PCMC, DWPM, and Radyo 630 in their social media accounts. Romualdez failed to win a Senate seat in 2016.

Screenshot from Prime TV Philippines Facebook

Romualdez is believed to be being groomed by his first cousin, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., for the 2028 presidential elections, in case there is no successful shift to a parliamentary form of government. The House Speaker trails badly in pre-election presidential surveys.

Traditionally, radio has played an important role in discussing politics, local issues and local news, Jose Bartolome, senior lecturer on broadcast communications at the UP College of Mass Communications, previously told Rappler.  

Bartolome said radio has been an important venue for national and local politicians who want to court voters, especially the masses who still depend on this medium for news, information, and entertainment such as radio dramas.

Competition for advertising revenues has been very difficult for radio stations, as ad spending for radio has declined significantly, with around 75% of free-to-air ads going to television, and ads and ad campaigns on digital media rising. Making these ventures profitable is now a tall order. –

(Editor’s note: This updated version clarifies the relationships between Prime Media, ABS-CBN, and DWPM Radyo 630, and Media Serbisyo Production Corporation. Media Serbisyo is the joint venture company between ABS-CBN and Prime Media, not DWPM Radyo 630. DWPM Radyo 630 is owned by Philippine Collective Media Corporation, which airs ABS-CBN’s radio content.)


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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.