television industry

TVJ’s transfer to TV5: Network’s weaker signal limits show’s free TV reach

Isagani de Castro Jr.

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

TVJ’s transfer to TV5: Network’s weaker signal limits show’s free TV reach

EB. Tito Sotto, Vic Sotto, and Joey de Leon, the mainstay hosts of noontime show 'Eat Bulaga' bid farewell to production company TAPE.

Eat Bulaga's Facebook

For people living in remote areas of the Philippines, Eat Bulaga's loyal viewers may have to shell out money to get entertained by the Dabarkads when the show starts on the Kapatid network first week of July at the latest

MANILA, Philippines – When Tito Sotto, Vic Sotto, and Joey De Leon’s (TVJ) new show airs on the Kapatid network, TV5, end of this month, June, or first week of July, many of their fans will have to decide whether to shell out money to get entertained by the Dabarkads.

Many of their loyal viewers in remote areas, from Aparri in Cagayan, northern Philippines to Jolo in Sulu in southern Philippines, will not be able to watch the show on free TV due to poor transmission signals.

“It’s a function of the reach of the transmitters,” Jose Maria Bartolome, a senior lecturer at the UP College of Mass Communication where he teaches broadcast communication, told Rappler. “TV5 didn’t upgrade its transmitters the same way as GMA did.”

As netizen Jeric Busa Polangco said following the transfer of the Dabarkads (Eat Bulaga! mainstays) to the Kapatid network, “That’s good. Kaya lang po mahina ang signal ng TV5 sa ibang probinsya, lalo na d2 sa Sorsogon.” 

(That’s good. But the thing is, TV5 has a weak signal in some provinces, especially here in Sorsogon.) 

“Question is, does TV5 have enough range in certain places where only antenna/local channels exists?” another netizen asked.

Defeated 2022 vice-presidential candidate Tito Sotto, who led the talks with Manny V. Pangilinan’s MediaQuest Holdings Incorporated, parent of TV5, said in an Inquirer interview that TV5 was already setting up new transmitters to improve its signals.

But the dilemma here is that the audience on analog television is declining, and it may not be worth spending a lot of capital for this equipment, Bartolome, a retired GMA executive and also a former TV5 consultant, also said.

“Will TV5 still invest in free TV if it’s already a sunset medium?” he said. “Young people these days don’t watch free TV anymore.” 

One indication of this is the declining reach of TV news, which fell from 66% in 2020 to 60% in 2022, according to the Reuters Institute’s 2022 Digital News Report . Instead of TV, more people are now getting their news from social media and traditional media’s websites via their smartphones, which reached 80% in 2022. 

In addition, the government had ordered all networks to shift from analog TV to digital TV, and the deadline was supposed to be this year, 2023. However, the slow rollout of digital TV has delayed the shutting down of analog TV transmission. Digital penetration has yet to reach 50% of households, according to National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) Ella Blanca Lopez.

Mahirap naman na i-shutdown mo tapos hindi pa digital-ready lahat. (It will be hard to shut it down when not everyone is digital-ready),” Lopez was quoted as saying.

Mataas-taas na ang penetration sa Metro Manila, pero sa ibang region hindi paMalabo pa po ‘yung sa provinces.”

(The digital penetration in Metro Manila is high, but not in the regions. It’s not clear yet in the provinces.) 

GMA Network Incorporated president and CEO Felipe Gozon had predicted this already years ago. He said in 2022 that people just can’t afford the set-top box needed to have digital channels on analog TV sets.

He estimated then that less than a third of Filipinos had digital boxes, and that “maybe 70% [of the country] is still analog.” 

“That [digital shift] is just a wish. What will you do with our millions of people who only have analog TV sets? You just cannot deprive them of the ability to receive transmission,” he told the news website,

No longer free

In the short term, at least, if Eat Bulaga! viewers are truly loyal, they will now have to spend to get entertained by the Dabarkads; it’s no longer going to be free.

Excluding the more expensive option of subscribing to cable TV, viewers now have three options, depending on whether these are available in their local area:

  • buy a digital TV receiver, also called a digital box
  • get a Direct-to-Home (DTH) service provider
  • watch the show via streaming platforms such as Facebook and YouTube.
Digital boxes

The cheapest option is to buy a digital TV receiver, the device that allows an analog television to receive digital transmission, also called digital terrestrial television (DTT).

When it still had its franchise, ABS-CBN was the most successful network in selling digital boxes, the TVPlus “black box.” These boxes still receive digital transmission although now, it no longer has ABS-CBN’s popular digital channels such as CineMo and Yey!. Second-hand TVPlus boxes are still being sold via e-commerce sites such as Shopee for P300. 

The Kapamilya network sold over 8 million digital TV receivers. For those who bought the TVPlus, it significantly improved ABS-CBN’s channels on analog TV sets vis-a-vis GMA’s. 

ABS-CBN’s digital box covered Metro Manila, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pangasinan, Rizal, Laguna, Pampanga, Tarlac, Benguet, Cavite, Metro Cebu, Cagayan De Oro, Iloilo, Bacolod, Davao and Batangas.

Another option is to buy new, but more expensive, digital boxes on the market.

There’s GMA’s digital TV receiver, Affordabox, which sells for P799. At least 2.5 million of these digital boxes have been sold by the Kapuso network since it was launched in 2020. As of March 2022, the following areas could be reached by GMA’s DTT signal:

  • LUZON: Metro Manila, Benguet, Ilocos Sur, Abra, La Union, Pangasinan, Bulacan, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, Quezon, Rizal, Camarines Sur (including Naga City)
  • VISAYAS: Bohol, Guimaras, Cebu, Leyte (including Tacloban City), Bacolod (and adjacent areas), Samar
  • MINDANAO: Davao de Oro, Davao del Sur, Davao del Norte, Misamis Oriental (including Cagayan de Oro), Camiguin, General Santos City (and nearby Polomolok), Sarangani (Alabel, Glan, and Malapatan only) 

TV5’s digibox is Sulit TV, which sells for P780 (one-time only, with no monthly fees). According to Sult TV’s Facebook page, their digital channels are available in the following areas: 

  • LUZON: Pangasinan, La Union, Baguio, Tarlac, Nueva Ecija, Bataan, Pampanga, Bulacan, Metro Manila, Batangas, Laguna, Rizal 
  • VISAYAS: Cebu, Bacolod, Negros Occidental, Iloilo, Guimaras
  • MINDANAO: Camiguin, Misamis Oriental, Cagayan de Oro, Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur, Davao City

There’s also Baron Antenna Digital TV Receiver, which costs P799. The following are among its supported locations: 

  • LUZON: Metro Manila, Benguet, Pangasinan, La Union, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Tarlac, Cavite, Batangas, Laguna, Rizal, Lucena 
  • VISAYAS: Bohol, Cebu, Leyte, Iloilo, Tacloban
  • MINDANAO:  Davao, Cagayan de Oro

Consumers, however, will have to first check whether digital channels are available in their local area, as well as the strength of the digital transmission.

Direct to Home (DTH)

For areas that can’t be reached by DTT, viewers can subscribe to providers that offer Direct-to-Home (DTH) satellite service. Consumers who will buy a DTH package will get a receiver and a satellite dish that has to be installed in a household.

Among the companies that offer these are companies such as Cignal TV and Global Satellite (GSat). ABS-CBN used to have a DTH service, Sky Direct, until the Duterte administration and the House of Representatives killed its franchise.

Cignal TV is the Philippines’ largest DTH satellite provider with around 4 million DTH subscribers. Many Sky Direct subscribers shifted to Cignal TV after ABS-CBN’s free-to-air operation was ordered shut down by the National Telecommunications Commission.

Cignal TV’s pre-paid HD Box costs P1,490 plus a minimum installation fee. Its prepaid Lite Loads now go as low as P30 valid for 2 days, where they can watch 73 SD channels, and 13 HD channels. 

Another major DTH provider is Global Satellite (GSat). GSat’s pre-paid unit costs P1,999 plus an installation fee. Its cheapest package has 42 TV channels and 14 radio channels with a monthly rate of P99.

TVJ’s transfer to TV5: Network’s weaker signal limits show’s free TV reach

Whether viewers will shell out this amount, especially if they are from the lower-income classes, remains to be seen.

Many Kapamilya viewers, especially in Mindanao, subscribed to GSat after ABS-CBN lost its frequencies.

Streaming platforms

The easiest option for Eat Bulaga! viewers is to watch the Dabarkads via streaming platforms such as Facebook and YouTube. Sotto has said they will continue streaming Eat Bulaga! on its Facebook page, which has 20 million followers.

But the question is whether there’s internet in their local area, and whether they’re willing to use up their data for two-and-a-half hours to watch the show. So far, thousands have said they will, at least, based on netizens’ comments.

“Sa youtube nalng po kayo mag ere ng Eat bulaga susunod po oami lahat ng tagahana nyu kahit sanang channelpa yan, #SolidDabarkadsForeever!” netizen Jehb Cosca Sarabillo said on Eat Bulaga!‘s Facebook page after TVJ announced they would leave producer-blocktimer TAPE Incorporated.

(Air Eat Bulaga! on YouTube. All of us, your fans, will follow you to whatever channel, #SolidDabarkadsForeever!”)

TV5/MediaQuest can also get significant advertising revenues from digital media as more companies go for digital ads, given the expanding reach of internet in the Philippines.  

Internet penetration in the Philippines has gradually risen in the past decade. According to digital consulting agency,, at the start of 2023, there were 85.16 million internet users in the Philippines, a penetration rate of 73% or nearly 3 out of 4 persons. There were 84.4 million social media users, equivalent to 72.5% of the population. Reuters Institute’s 2022 Digitial News Report puts the figure higher at 82% in 2022. 

Eight years ago, in 2015, there were 44.2 million active internet users in the Philippines for an internet penetration of 44%. There were 40 million active social media accounts in 2015, a penetration rate of 40%, said.

Similarly, polling firm Pulse Asia’s Ulat ng Bayan series of surveys found that Filipinos who rely on TV as a source of news declined from 94% in November 2020 to 91% in September 2021. On the other hand, reliance on the internet as source of news went up from 40% in November 2020 to 48% in September 2021, of which Facebook was the main source of news on digital media.  

Fighting Goliath

While TV5 works on these technical issues, it will also have to confront the Kapuso network’s steps in response to the loss of the Dabarkads. Being a publicly-listed company, GMA Network Inc. isn’t just going to just watch and see GMA’s noontime ratings take a hit. 

Already, GMA’s Sparkle Artists Center is lending blocktimer TAPE Inc. a hand, as it has been doing in the past, with the entry of its exclusive talents such as Paolo Contis, Buboy Villar, Betong Sumaya, and Cassy and Mavy Legaspi now acting as hosts of the noontime variety show. 

Defeated 2022 presidential candidate Isko Moreno was the latest addition to TAPE Inc.’s show after appearing on June 10, Saturday.

TVJ’s transfer to TV5: Network’s weaker signal limits show’s free TV reach

GMA can experiment with its noon programming on its free TV station, Good TV (formerly GMA News TV), such as putting soap operas or movies to get not-so-loyal Eat Bulaga! viewers to watch their other shows.

Maraming laro sa programming (There are many strategies in programming),” Bartolome said.

Comedian Joey de Leon, however, isn’t too worried about the problems they may face when their new show airs on TV5. When asked, for instance, about not being able to use the trademark, Eat Bulaga! on the Kapatid network, he said last week, “Hindi naman yun ang importante e, importante yung content. Pwede naman, Eat lang, Let’s eat! Importante yung laman.” 

(That’s not what’s important, what’s important is content. We can call it, Eat only, Let’s Eat! What’s important is content.) –

From Kapuso to Kapatid: Tito, Vic, Joey move ‘Eat Bulaga’ to TV5

From Kapuso to Kapatid: Tito, Vic, Joey move ‘Eat Bulaga’ to TV5

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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.